SafeMama Picks Safer Lunch Box Alternatives

Filed Under product finds, PVC Free 

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Crocodile Creek Lunch BoxIt’s hard to believe that back to school shopping is in full swing. I suppose that having a toddler makes it feel as we still have a little longer until summer is officially over, and if it’s anything like last summer, we have until at least November. I’m not complaining….much.

But for those of you that have school aged kiddos, you’re probably counting down the days until school starts. And let me say, I’m with you in spirit.

We’ve gotten quite a few requests from SafeMama™ readers out there regarding lunch boxes. Conventional lunch boxes from your local discount chain are most likely constructed of PVC and riddled with lead paint. You’d think after a year of listening to nothing but lead paint recalls and phthalates in PVC, these chains would get with the program. But unfortunately, I think we’re far from seeing any sort of resolution on their part. So we set out to find a few alternatives for you that don’t suck entirely. All options are free of lead, phthalates, PVC and BPA.

For a good soft lunch box, I discovered Crocodile Creek. (shown above) These might be a good alternative for kids who are geared towards licensed characters. They have a large selection of cute designs for both boys and girls. You might be able to find these in your local Whole Foods, which is where I discovered them, or you can order them directly from their website.  Added 6/10/09 This is a SafeMama Top Pick… I’ve been using one for my sons preschool all year.  Its durable and cute and still going strong.  Love our lunchbox!

Next up we have Laptop lunches. These are a bento box type of lunch box and one of the more expensive options that we’ve come across, but they’re really appealing to kids that like things organized and presented in an appealing way. Bento is the Japanese tradition of a boxed lunch. Which is where the food is divided into its own little compartment. All of laptop lunches options are made of polyethylene and polypropylene. You can order Laptop Lunches directly from their website. (Note: The small emblem on the bag and the name tag do contain PVC but the company is looking into silicone alternatives.)

One of my favorite options are Munchlers lunch bags by Built NY. Munchlers are adorable totes that are shaped like animals and open up fully to create a place mat. These run a little on the small side, so for those who might need a little more space, there’s also a wearable lunch bag available. All bags are made of polyethylene and can be ordered directly from their website.

Finally, we came across the Cool Tote, a soft lunch box with a fabric outer cover. These totes are shaped more like your brown bag, except it has an adjustable shoulder strap. With three different sizes and 50 different fabrics to choose from, you should be able to find something for just about every kid. All lunch totes also come with an 8oz freezer pack. You can order Cool Totes directly from their website.

We haven’t come across a safe alternative yet that has any sort of licensed characters, which might pose a problem for the kid who HAS to have Lightning McQueen or Dora The Explorer, so if you do happen to find anything that satisfies those who are going through an obsession with their favorite character, drop us a note and we’ll be happy to add it to the list if it meets the criteria.

Update 8/6/08: A couple of SafeMama™ have tipped us off with a few other suggestions.  Licensed character lunch boxes to the rescue!  ZAK! Designs has quite a few licensed characters, all of their lunch boxes are lead and PVC free.  There’s no store locator, but I would check your local discount chains and grocery stores.  My local grocery store has tons of ZAK! products. Update 9/21/09: A SafeMama reader sent in the following email to us:  I read your article on safer lunchbox alternatives.  It mentions that ZAK! Designs lunchboxes are all PVC free and that isn’t right.  I just ordered a ZAK! Spiderman Lunchbox and the tag inside says it contains 30% PVC. I guess this is a good lesson in making sure that your child’s lunchbox actually says lead and phthalate free.  You can also call the manufacturer if you’re not sure.  Shame on ZAK designs!

L.L. Beans critter lunch box series is also free of lead and PVC.  And they’re also way cute!

Posted by: Statia on August 3, 2008