Increasingly, parents are waking up to the realization that there is no safe plastic. “BPA-free” and even “plant-based plastics” can still release toxins that mimic hormones in the body. The safest bet for your child is the same thing now that it is always been: truly stable products such as glass, stainless steel, cotton, and beeswax. Luckily, more companies are realizing this trend in the parenting market—including some great, sustainably-oriented Canadian options—and are delivering safe, green, and stylish options. The great thing about using more stable materials—like stainless steel—is that they can be thrown in the dishwasher or used with hot items without the worry that it will release more toxins. (That’s one of the problems with plastics: they can release toxic plasticizers when they are heated, left in the sun for long periods, or filled with acidic items.)
My favourite healthy, green (and waste-free) lunch box options
Onyx makes stainless steel supplies for every kitchen need: from ice cube trays to popsicle makers; straws to airtight leftover containers in all sizes. Best of all, this Vancouver-based company makes sophisticated lunch containers that appeal both to children and grown-ups. My favourite is the tiffin-style, double-walled (insulated) tiffin which can come with two to four stackable layers. The tiffin containers work well for parents like myself who believe the perfect lunch is something hot and leftover from dinner the night before. I also love two innovative additions they offer: a stainless steel ice-pack and a stainless steel hot rock. The round, stainless steel “hot rock” manages to actually keep soup hot all the way until lunch in either a water-tight tiffin or a lunch bot wide-mouth thermos. Perhaps even better, the design of the tiffin doesn’t rely on any rubber gaskets so there is nothing to get all mouldy and gross and nothing to replace after a year. Give it a try and read our glowing review.
Lunch bots make stainless steel bento boxes with bright coloured stainless steel lids that come with either one, two, or three internal dividers. They are just the right size for a sandwich and healthy side. They also make an insulated containers with a wide mouth so that it is actually possible to see what’s inside there and for your child to navigate his spoon inside to eat his soup without spilling it all over his shirt, again. I find these much nicer and easier to use than any other thermos-style container. On the other hand, I also find that after a year their effectiveness at actually keeping the food hot and fresh until lunchtime is greatly diminished. Granted, I haven’t tried placing the rubber gaskets which would probably help a lot, but is extremely annoying to do from Canada.
And for inside the lunchbox or bag
Both plastic sandwich bags and plastic wrap are hard to reuse and are culpable of releasing plasticizers. Instead, in my house, we use the Canadian made and infinitely useful GoGo sandwich/snack bag and Abeego beeswax wraps.
GoGo bags are made from 100% cotton and have an organic option and not only are a cute and handy way to transport apples or a sandwich in a lunch bag or box of your choice, but in my experience actually keep the apples from browning and keep the sandwich fresh longer than if they were in a ziplock bag or just put directly in a lunch box. I love these bags! Read our review.
The Abeego beeswax wraps are traditionally designed canvas coated in safe beeswax and make a lovely alternative to plastic wrap that can be reused for a year. These make a great hostess gift too. Read our review.
Life Without Plastic is a Canadian-based online shop that both makes their own stainless steel lunch options and carries many of the other above mentioned options as well. They also carry such splendid lunchbox options as canvas lunch bags, thermoses, stiainless steel straws and more. This was among my very favourite online stores for household goods and green kid basics even when I lived in the US. Shop their lunch box and food storage options now.