The Lunch Pail (Bag, Bottle and Tote): Fun, Fashion and Function

by Laura on October 25, 2009

in Tools

As a society, we have come to depend upon a variety of convenience foods. It is a fact that is most evident in our lunchrooms. Single-serve containers, plastic bags, aluminum foil, wax paper, juice boxes found in our kids’ lunch pails are all disposed of en masse on a daily basis.

It has been estimated that on average, a school-age child using a disposable lunch generates 67 pounds of waste per school year. That equates to 18,760 pounds of lunch waste for just one average-size elementary school.

Yikes!

After hearing something like that, I am quick in taking stock in my lunch-packing and ask myself, what am I doing to contribute to that number. (To learn more about what you can do at the school level, visithttp://www.wastefreelunches.org/)

For the past two years that I’ve been packing lunches for Grayson, I’ve been using the Kids Konserve lunch kit. Filled with reusable stainless steel containers, a clever biodegradable Food Kozy for sandwiches, a cloth napkin and placemat. It is so enjoyable not having to buy plastic bags or aluminum paper foil to use when packing his lunch.

To meet the growing demand for products that allow us to reduce waste, and do good for he environment, manufacturers have stepped up their lunch box offerings.

For instance, Aladdin has created the Aladdin Sustain product line, which is produced using on average 25 percent post consumer recycled plastic. “Use of post-consumer content is what can really make an impact on the environment,” explains JoAnne Anderson, consumer marketing manager forPMI Worldwide, which markets Aladdin products. “This is what fills our landfills and taxes our resources.”  The Aladdin Sustain products include a Snack Container, which is perfect for pretzels and other snacks, as well as a very handy Salad Set.

Hand in hand with the importance of packing a waste-free lunch, comes the awareness of the types of materials used to make their food storage and lunch packing options.

If I think back to my lunch box, I can remember its wonderful smell. You know, that plastic smell that all your new toys had. Back then, that plastic smell represented joy – a new toy or belonging. Today, that smell makes me cringe.

In the past few years, news of BPA, phthalates, lead and PVC in toys and other products that we, and our children, come in close contact with (including lunch boxes), has led to a change in the way consumers are viewing these portables. Now they’re looking for alternatives to the traditional lunch packing options which may be constructed using these ‘poisonous’ materials, and seeking alternatives that are not only healthier for the environment, but for their own family’s health.

“Not only has the overall awareness and importance of packing a waste-free lunch grown, but the consumer is much more savvy and now also taking in to consideration what sorts of materials are used for their waste-free food storage and lunch packing options,” explains Chance Claxton, co-founder of Kids Konserve, a line of reusable food storage options for waste-free lunches

“Consumers are looking for key phrases such as BPA free, Phthalate Free, along with Lead- and PVC Free when choosing lunch kits,” she adds. “We also use food-grade 304 stainless steel. It truly is the safest stainless steel to use for food. And in the end is recyclable!”

Countless companies like Kids Konserve are in the constant search for the best eco-friendly materials available as well as options that are durable and provide solutions for packing many different types of lunch and snack foods.

A Personal Statement

Even with all the attention to the waste-free, BPA- and Phthalate-free options, style will never go out of style. Back when I was a kid, whether it was Tony the Tiger, Barbie, or Power Rangers, what donned that lunch box we carried was perhaps one of the most important parts of our back-to-school purchases.

For me, it was a white, plastic covered box (with Dawn dolls on the cover), with a glass-lined Thermos that my Mother would beg me not to drop. I remember the joy I had while proudly carrying that to school. It truly was my own form of personal expression.

“Personal expression is still a very important factor for kids and adults when choosing lunch containers,” explains Betsi Schumacher, spokesperson for Thermos.

To that end, the company continues to offer a host of licensed characters on their lunch kits as well as a collection of more fashionable lunch kits to appeal to a broader range of consumers, from ‘tweens to adults. As well, the company’s recently launched FUNtainer line of thermal food jars and bottles decorated with the likes of Hannah Montana, Hello Kitty and High School Musical, has proven to be a great way to give kids the ability to express their own personality.

For the adult, the Raya line from Thermos is a more fashionable collection of lunch coolers, totes, and sling pack lunches. “Consumers are looking for different styles, that match their personality as well as give them greater functionality,” adds Schumacher.

Aladdin has also stepped up the game in fashion. The company’s new Artist Series includes bowls and travel mugs donned with works from artists including Catalina Estrada and Emily Martin. And, if you don’t find the just right design for your personal expression, the Blank Canvas mugs are ideal. The line of insulated mugs comes with a blank sleeve that let you display original artwork, photos, even the beloved sticker collection.

Whether it is the brown-paper lunch bags, plastic baggies or the unnecessary packaging of single-serving foods, our continued addition to convenience foods adds billions of tons of trash to landfills each year. By adopting a waste-free lunch lifestyle, we are making a conscious choice to reduce consumption on a daily basis. In the long run, everyone will benefit – your family and the environment.

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