photo thefuturistics @ flickr.
Recently I declared I'd never buy a $40 Kids Konserve lunchbox for a kid no matter how many sustainable bells and whistles it had. The price seemed unsustainable.
But it got me to thinking - and TreeHuggers on the lunch box forum thread seemed to agree - it's not all that easy to find a lunch box that meets all these criteria - as green as possible, not too heavy, sturdy, long lasting. As I was still thinking $40 was too steep for the Kids Konserve, I set out to put together a kid's (or adult's) lunch kit that met all the above criteria. Hit the jump to read about the search and the surprising results.My criteria for the lunch kit were as follows: all reusable components (i.e. no paper bags), no plastic, and under $40. That no-plastic requirement in the end sank my efforts.
Laptop lunchbox handy, but doesn't meet all the criteria
There are some good lunch box concepts out there - the Laptop Lunch system was one of the first to turn up in my search, and it meets the not-too-heavy criteria and does make eating at a picnic-style table really steady. It has it's own insulated carry bag, which for some climates is quite important. But to me the plastic (as well as the nearly $40 price) made it a no-go.
The next find was the great variety of Japanese-inspired bento boxes at the E-bay bento store. I'm so drawn to these bento boxes (secret Hello Kitty fetish alert!) and the prices and selection are great, but for me the massive amount of plastic again makes this choice ultimately a no go.
DIY lunch boxes, how much does it have to cost?
Instead, I turned eventually to the two-tier tiffin box as my base lunch box. The tiffin runs about $15 on the net and can probably be tracked down in mid-sized towns for less. It's more money at To-Go Ware ($18), but their version looks high quality and can be broken down to a single tier, a plus - and To-Go Ware's "sidekick" tin for sauces or yogurt, that's a real deal-maker. A less-expensive single tier tiffin is here.
Armed with To-Go Ware's stainless steel tiffin box, I still felt the need for some extra containers. I really love the stainless tins at Kids Konserve, but at 4 for $15 my budget would start to get blown, as I have neither cloth napkin nor drink container in my kit....yet. Instead, to cut down on costs, I find Crate and Barrel glass containers for $6, and have two nifty IKEA glass containers from my own cupboards that are the perfect size and have a rubber lid edge so they stay closed, but are a bit on the heavy side. I'm now at around $25.
On to the drinks and napkins. I really don't want to put my drinking liquids in anything but a Klean Kanteen. The adorable, 12 oz. sippy Kanteen is...$18! Budget blown. And I haven't even added the $30 (for five) super-cute Happikins reusable cloth napkins which come in their own nylon pouch and have space for hand-written Dry Erase notes!
Back to Kids Konserve
So, I make my way back to the Kids Konserve site, a bit reluctantly, and chagrined. While this doesn't mean that it isn't possible for all of us to put together a great lunch box kit assembled by what we may have on hand (like the IKEA containers, and your own Klean Kanteens). But it does mean that if you have to start from scratch, the price for the Kids Konserve offerings maybe is not as off the charts as I had first hypothesized.
When I get to the Kids Konserve site, I'm slightly mollified by the new designs the company has introduced since I wrote about the original product. I peruse the product catalog, and, yes, there it is...the cutest kid-sized tiffin for just $20. Well, not just. It's still a lot. But by using my own stuff (including my own cloth napkin) I can put together the lunch kit of my dreams! Via:
The Laptop Lunchbox Reduces Waste, Saves You Cash
Kids Konserve: A Pricey Lunchbox But a Priceless Concept
The Green Lunch Program: Destined for the Masses?