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Welcome to our latest guide to eco-friendly lunch boxes. Packed with facts and figures, here is an explanation along with the pros and cons of some eco-friendly lunch box options available online!
Ending an eight-hour workday can be tedious, but as every elementary school kid says, lunch can help. A good lunch box will make your valuable outer packaging crisp, cool, organized and safe. For those who like to keep lunch with them to go to school, to work, to the park or to the beach, the lunch box is an important requirement.
However, you no longer have to use plastic bags for lunch or to pack wraps and sandwiches. In particular, it is now possible to make some more serious efforts to develop environmentally friendly products. Every reusable lunch container is better than a disposable plastic box. By switching to non-plastic lunch containers, you can avoid adding millions of tons of hazardous plastic waste to our landfills and the ocean.
Furthermore, switching to an environmentally friendly lunch box can help to reduce the amount of plastic and promote environmental sustainability. There is no better time to switch to a more sustainable lunch box than this one!
Our Top Picks
In this guide, we tested number of lunch containers, including lunch bags, insulated boxes, bento boxes, and metal and plastic food storage containers. We make sense of what makes a lunch box a great choice for you. We believe the best eco-friendly lunch boxes should be free of all toxins that damage your health or the environment.
The basic requirements are: being spacious, easy to carry, good design, water proof, easy to clean are some secondary features that should be looked upon. Considering all these we’ve picked some lunch containers/snack bags that are a great choice when it comes to health safety and design.
As a preview, the top 3:
GRUB2GO Premium Bento Lunch Box
CCidea Simple Waterproof Insulated Large Adult Lunch Tote Bag
Tote Bag with Shoulder Strap
Types of different Eco-friendly lunch box materials
When you are planning to reduce the output of plastic waste, you can consider several types of environmentally friendly food containers. Choose the type that best suits your lunch.
If your regular lunch is a wrap or a sandwich, your needs will be different from the need for salads or other portable items that you might worry about dropping. There are different types of eco-friendly food containers. Choose the type (bag, bento box, etc) that is best for you.
An eco-friendly lunch box may contain the following materials:
- Stainless steel
- Waxed canvas
Differences between disposable and reusable food containers
Disposable lunch containers are comparatively more expensive over time (as they are disposed of). You throw away roughly 6 cents in trash whenever, you dump a non-reusable lunch box. They may include harmful chemicals such as biphenyl A (BPA), phthalates, PVC, lead and other heavy metals. Toxic chemicals like BPA and lead generally have a negative effect on our health and cause environmental pollution in landfills.
People usually opt for disposable brown bags for their own convenience, however these bags cannot hold any type of food, thus not an ideal solution for a warm lunch.
On the other hand, reusable lunch containers are eco-friendly, and do not contain any harmful chemicals. As they can be used again and again, they are inexpensive and cost us less money over time. Besides, the absence of toxins they help keeping the food fresh and healthy. Moreover, proper washing and care can help maintain the quality of food.
Lunch Bags v/s Lunch Boxes
Lunch bags are easier to carry, especially for kids. Insulated lunch bags are typically designed to keep the food warm with a temperature of 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below. They may be inexpensive but they are not breakable (as is the case with certain lunch containers).
Most lunch boxes lack the temperature maintenance (temperature of each lunch box varies according to their material) which does not allow bacterial proliferation. Lunch boxes have different small compartments for extra storage of food. We believe that a softly insulated lunch bag is the best choice for a cold lunch. Un-insulated metal or plastic lunch containers are not ideal, but they are certainly better than paper bags.
It is worth remembering that every insulated lunch container and bento box should be washed with warm water and detergent after each use (pick an environment friendly one if you can).
Best Eco-friendly Lunch Boxes
#1. GRUB2GO Premium Bento Lunch Box
This GRUB2GO is a premium lunch box. The 2021 Model is 70% Bigger. It includes a Bamboo Chopping Board Lid. One Carry Bag comes with the lunch box. It has 2 Dividers, Utensils, and one Sauce Container. The bento box is made of plastic and is available in black color. The new design is larger than the classic one, keeps your food fresh and helps you control serving size.
It contains two air-tight containers, you can use one or both at the same time, so it provides you with some flexibility.
The lid is made of stylish bamboo, but the plastic part is also toxin-free food grade material without any BPA, PVC, or vinyl.
- Larger than other 40-ounce products
- Airtight spill-free container
- Solid bamboo tools (double cutting board)
- 2 sections, can be used together or separately
- Tasteful combination of minimalist design and traditional Japanese style.
- Free bag, to carry food with you
- Includes utensils and sauce container
- Microwave, dishwasher and freezer safe
- No color options are available
- Hard to take of airtight lid
#2. 3-in-1 Stainless Steel Bento Box
The Bento box has a new anti-crack design (2020). This stainless steel lunch box can hold your favorite lunch without splitting in the corner. It has changed a lot from the original Bento Green Lunch box; it can save your perfectly packaged lunch without wasting it and it comes with a lifetime warranty! Stainless steel lunch containers are among the safest picks.
- It is larger than most bento boxes.
- It has 3 parts with snack boxes
- 3 separate areas for perfect planning of your dishes.
- The lunch box is made of 100% stainless steel,
- No color options for kids
- Relatively high price
- Snap-locks may be too strong for young children
#3. By Caleb Company Green Bento Boxes For Kids Lunches
This set of three bento containers allows you to prepare a family dinner or plan a few days in advance for a child. A quick-lock sealing lid keeps food fresh and undisturbed, makes it an ideal salad container.
There is one large and two removable compartments to help you personalize your food, so you can use or lift the bowl to make sure your food fits perfectly. Owing to the hermetic silicone sealant cap, you can put liquids into the container without worrying about leaking. Textured edges at the bottom prevent slipping and make it easier to hold the box.
They can hold 39oz and can be safely used in microwave ovens, freezers and dishwashers. The durable eco-friendly plastic is transparent, yet less vulnerable than glass containers.
- Spacious; 3 bento containers
- Quick-lock sealing lid
- Microwave and freezer safe
- Hermetic silicone sealant cap
- BPA-free, eco-friendly, food-grade plastic
- Dishwasher safe
- Available in only one color
#4. TreeLen Insulated Tote Bag
The insulated lunch bag is made of high quality, environmentally friendly nylon material. The inside is insulated allowing you to preserve the temperature of any hot or cold meal.
The bag opens in 180 degrees making it super easy to access the contents. The size is ideal, not too big, not too small, yet quite spacious inside. It holds its shape well and has a side pocket for cutlery, table mat or other stuff.
The bag is easy to clean as well thanks to it’s material and the large opening angle. It has a durable zipper and the material is quite strong, too.
It’s a women’s bag by definition, but it’s modern design and color makes it suitable for both men and women. It is well suited for bringing eco-friendly lunch to the school or office. Packing healthy snacks for day walks, beaches and sports or outdoor activities.
- Made from environment friendly material
- Thermal insulation
- Modern design
- Easy to clean
- Short handles
- Only one color available
#5. Waxed Canvas Insulated Lunch Bag from TriCloud Sports
This one is suitable for both men and women. It’s a lightweight bag, made of eco-friendly stain resistant waxed canvas. The bag is insulated, can keep food and drink warm (or cold) for hours.
The material is waterproof heavy duty waxed canvas that makes it a very durable choice on the long run. It also allows easy cleaning from both in and outside.
This lunch bag has enough space to accommodate the desired lunch, canned food, fruit, water bottle, snacks. Suitable for work, outdoors and travel.
It’s a multi-purpose waxed canvas lunch bag, you can use it as an ice bag, lunch bag, shopping bag or snack bag for long distance travel. Thebag weighs only 0.75 pounds.
- Made of eco-friendly material
- Easy to pack and clean
- Durable, sturdy finish
- Suitable for men, women and children
- Handle stitching is not very strong, may need to be reinforced after long use
Final verdict – which is the best
The GRUB2GO is a premium lunch box and well-suited for all needs. Its eco-friendly material is worth the money. We acknowledge its sleek design and added features of extra compartments and the bamboo board has made it to our final recommendation. Its added features make it a versatile lunch box, help to keep your food fresh and manage your serving size. It’s also an ideal eco-friendly gift, if you run out of ideas.
No matter what type of food box you use, it should be non-toxic, durable, stain-resistant, easy to clean and maintain. Food boxes and food storage containers must also be airtight, and closed compartments must prevent food spillage. Instead of wasting money on disposable bags make sure that you invest in eco-friendly lunch boxes and lunch bags which is a good way to reduce costs, live a healthier life and also to save the planet.
Open Questions about Ecofriendly Lunch Boxes
Why BPA free?
Lunch Boxes should be BPA free just like anything that is in direct contact with food. Studies show that BPA (Bisphenol A) can cause infertility, cancer and metabolic disorders. 
How often should you wash reusable lunch boxes?
Reusable lunch boxes should be washed every day, ie. after every use. A mild detergent and a fresh cycle with cold water can help you wash your lunch boxes. You may check the tags and washable instructions before cleaning. It makes sense to use some eco-friendly detergent if you can.
Why reusable lunch boxes are better for the environment?
Every reusable bento box is better than a disposable plastic box. The best choices are non-toxic, biodegradable or non-plastic lunchboxes, you can avoid adding millions of tons of hazardous plastic waste to our open landfills and the ocean.
Are eco-friendly lunch bags insulated?
It depends upon the type of eco-friendly material. Generally, fabric lunch bags are insulated, keep the food hot and are free from PVC/ PBA.