In search of a waste free lunchbox
So I thought I’d do a bit of a round up on waste free lunchboxes for those of us who aren’t at the lunchbox stage yet, or who are looking to make a switch or maybe like me you just haven’t gotten around to getting a lunchbox at all and end up carting endless amounts of containers everywhere.
There are lots of lunchboxes on the market which allow you to pack food in without needing to be wrapped in anything. I’m going to do a quick rundown on the top 3.
The Yumbox/Bento Box is a plastic lunchbox which has separate compartments where you can place different types of food. By far the best thing about the yumbox is that it keeps your food totally separate so it doesn’t all smush together (speaking from some experience here).There is even a tiny spot for dips and sauces!
The yumbox is readily available and advertise that they contain no lead, BPA, phthalates or PVC. The downside to the yumbox is that it is well….plastic. As many of us know once a piece of plastic exists it exists forever, it doesn’t break down and will leech chemicals back into the earth once disposed of. Plastic is also known to leech chemicals into food over time, some of these are known endocrine disrupters (disrupts the bodies natural hormone level).
I can’t find a definitive answer if the yumbox is recyclable, as I don’t have one I can’t check either, but I’m going to assume at this stage probably not, but still it is a waste free option which is always a plus in my book.
The goodbyn lunchbox is a bento style lunch box, but it doesn’t have as many compartments as the yumbox, usually only 3 separate compartments. Goodbyn’s are not leakproof like the yumbox so you can’t have anything like dips in there with your carrot sticks. The best thing about the Goodbyn though is that it is already made from recycled materials and can also be recycled once they are at the end of their life.
Silicone is often touted as a much more environmentally friendly alternative to plastic. Silicone is a hybrid material similar to plastic except that it is more stable at temperature fluctuations, does not react with food and drink and *shouldn’t* leech any chemicals into your food. Silicone is odour and stain resistant, doesn’t wear the way plastic does and will not harbour bacteria as it has no open pores. In short silicone is much more durable than plastic. The only downside to silicone is that like plastic it is not biodegradable and recycling it can be tricky as it cannot go in your local council recycling bin but needs to be sent to a specialist recycling centre.
Stainless Steel Lunchboxes
Non Toxic and 100% recyclable stainless steel lunchboxes just might be the winner here. Although they will be heavier than their plastic and silicone counterparts they will last pretty much forever. They aren’t usually leakproof either so no dips or sauces for these babies.
The other thing I like about stainless steel, is that the industry itself is green. Stainless steel uses scrap metal as its primary raw material , with up to 70% of the product coming from recycled material. Increased efficiency in process technology has also decreased the amount of energy required to manufacture stainless steel.
Even if stainless steel is not recycled and it does find its way to a landfill or disposal site, it will have no detrimental effect to the soil or groundwater.
A Stainless steel lunchbox will set you back more than their plastic or silicone counterparts but considering how long they will last and other potential uses they can have the cost is more of an investment.
So while it’s great that there are so many lunchboxes out there that encourage a waste free lunch, for me personally not all are created equal. At this point in time I’m going for the stainless steel lunchbox for the win. I’ll be interested to see if any made from rice husk hit the market soon. This would be cool, a waste free lunchbox made from leftover rice products that is lightweight AND biodegradable, totally winning in my book.