The 7 Best Plastic-Free Lunchboxes of 2022

Our top pick is Life Without Plastic's stainless steel container.

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Lunch in a wooden bento box

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As a planet, we’re drowning in plastic. Each year, we produce around 300 million tonnes of plastic, an amount equivalent to the weight of the entire human population of the Earth. As plastics begin to disintegrate, they break into tiny particles known as microplastics, which can infiltrate waterways, the soil and even our bodies.

Replacing a plastic lunchbox or single-use plastic bags for an alternative material is an easy way to reduce the amount of plastic in your life. Look for alternatives that use natural materials, such as FSC-certified bamboo, or easily recyclable metals such as stainless steel—which has the added benefit of being practically indestructible. 

We researched the market to bring you this list of the best plastic-free lunchboxes.

Best Overall: Life Without Plastic Stainless Steel Rectangular Airtight Food Storage Container with Bamboo Lid

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Life Without Plastic Stainless Steel Rectangular Airtight Food Storage Container with Bamboo Lid

Life Without Plastic

This simple and elegant stainless steel lunchbox comes with bamboo lid. Whatever your lunch of choice, you can throw it into this container, which has a silicone seal around the lid and a silicone band to ensure it stays on securely, even when upside down in your bag. 

Holding up to 40 ounces of food, it’s a decent size for lunch and is smart enough for the office. It’s oven-safe and dishwasher-safe. The stainless steel container can be recycled, and the bamboo lid composted, at the end of this lunchbox’s life, although we think you'll get many years of use out of this box.

Best Budget: Ekobo Recycled Bamboo Go Rectangular Bento Lunch Box

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Ekobo Recycled Bamboo Go Rectangular Bento Lunch Box

Courtesy of Goodee

Bring color to your lunch break with this versatile bento box from non-toxic dishware pioneers Ekobo. This lunchbox is manufactured using a process that transforms waste into a reusable product: the sawdust produced by cutting chopsticks and flooring from FSC-certified bamboo is combined with a food-safe binding resin to make the company’s signature BIOBU bamboo fiber eco-composite.

This results in a sturdy little box that is dishwasher-safe and can be used again and again. The dyes used color each container are also food grade. It comes five bright and eye-catching colors, and features a removable divider.

Best Leakproof: Ecolunchbox 3-in-1 Splash Box

Ecolunchbox 3-in-1 Splash Box

Courtesy of Ecolunchbox

Find space for a three-course meal in this reliably leak-proof steel and silicone lunchbox. A two-tiered container fits 27 ounces of food, while a snack container can nest inside or stand alone for added space, giving you all the room you need for a satisfying lunch on the go. 

The containers are made from rugged stainless steel, which can be recycled without any degradation to the metal. A silicone lid fits securely for a snug and leak-proof container that’ll work with soups and other liquids. Silicone isn't the most easily recycled material out there, but it is more durable than most plastic, as well as being more resistant to different temperatures, and it makes an effective seal.

What’s more, as a company, ECOlunchbox have helped reduce the amount of plastic used by hungry adults and kids across the planet, and avoided the equivalent of 47 million pounds of trash — or 1,466 homes’ electricity use for one year — entering the environment. 

Best for Kids: PlanetBox Rover Stainless Steel Lunchbox

PlanetBox Rover Stainless Steel Lunchbox

Courtesy of The Tot

So many lunchboxes designed for kids are made with unsustainable materials, but that's not the case with this stainless steel lunchbox. Five compartments mean you can provide plenty of choice for even the pickiest of eaters, while two smaller leak-proof containers with food-grade silicone lids store liquids or wet foods. 

But the real reason your kids will love this lunchbox is the array of eye-catching magnets that can be attached to the outside and removed when it goes into the dishwasher. Choose from many different designs like unicorns, a family of dinosaurs, or even classic cars.

Best Bento Box: Bee Greener Shop Personalized Eco-Friendly Bento Box

Bee Greener Shop Personalized Eco-Friendly Bento Box

Courtesy of Etsy

These cute bento boxes are available in three pastel shades. Two layers provide ample room for your meal, while a fork and spoon are also included so you can dive straight in. 

What we love the most about these bento boxes is the fact that they’re handcrafted using wheat straw, which is made from the offcuts of harvested wheat grain. Not only are these boxes biodegradable, but they’re microwave-safe and non-allergenic. To further reduce your carbon footprint, the company also offsets their CO2 emissions by supporting social and environmental projects around the world.

Best Steel: Happy Tiffin 2-Tier Tiffin Lunch Box

Happy Tiffin 2-Tier Tiffin Lunch Box

Courtesy of Happy Tiffin

Asian countries know a thing or two about transporting a tasty lunch, which is why this two-tier, stackable tiffin container is designed to keep your meal in the perfect condition until it reaches its final destination. A leak-proof and airtight domed lid ensures that there’ll be no spills en-route, either. 

The food-grade stainless steel from which these containers are made means they’re dishwasher-safe and easily cleaned — and, unlike some plastic counterparts, won’t stain or retain any colors or odors. As a result, each time you use them, they’ll look like new. Although stainless steel is extremely durable, it can also be fully recycled and turned into something brand at the end of your tiffin's life.

Best Wooden: Kozy Sweet Home Acacia Wood Bento Box

Kozy Sweet Home Acacia Wood Bento Box

Courtesy of Etsy

Who’d have thought lunchtime could look this good? We’re not even talking about the food!

Made from the extremely durable hardwood, acacia, this luxuriously chic wooden bento box is handmade for a truly stylish finish. Hand-wash only, this lunchbox is likely the most luxurious of its kind that you’ll own. 

Two tiers and multiple compartments allow you to divide up your meal, while the box comes with a spoon and fork carved from the same polished wood. As the acacia is 100% natural, no two boxes are the same thanks to their own unique grain patterns. Thanks to its fast-growing nature, acacia is considered highly sustainable wood. Not only does it grow without fertilizer, but it can thrive in almost any type of soil, and without the need for pesticides.

Final Verdict

For a leak proof lunch, pick up the steel and silicone lunchbox from Ecolunchbox. If you're looking for a more kid-friendly lunchbox, check out the PlanetBox Rover.

What to Consider When Shopping for a Plastic-Free Lunchbox

Material 

You know you want to avoid plastic, but there are also pros and cons of other materials. 

Stainless steel does require energy to make, but around 60% of all new products made are done so from reclaimed and industrial scrap metal, significantly reducing its environmental impact. Bamboo is another material that can score highly when it comes to sustainability. Silicone—despite existing in a bit of grey area when it comes to being considered a plastic or not—is far more durable and considered a worthy alternative to more readily used plastic, and makes for good seals.

Size + Portability

It’s good to have a clear idea of how you will be transporting your lunchbox. Consider if you need handles, or even a strap. Or if you’ll be placing it in a handbag or backpack, it’s a good idea to check the dimensions before you buy something, to make sure the box will fit. 

Seal + Compartments

Think about the foods you usually pack for lunch, and the ones you want to pack. If you’re just bringing a simple sandwich, you might not need a tight seal. But if you have saucy dishes, you’ll want something that keeps liquids in—so look for silicone or rubber seals. 

Additionally, if you like to pack different snacks and keep them separate, or if you have a child who doesn’t like to have their foods touch each other, you’ll want a box with little compartments. However, this style may be a little less flexible, so one or two bigger compartments may be better for other styles of meals. 

Why Trust Treehugger?

Going plastic-free is all about swapping materials that pollute the environment and our oceans for those that have a far greater impact. We’ve done our due diligence when it comes to finding alternatives that we think are better for the planet and which are a worthwhile replacement for ubiquitous plastic. 

Author Steph Dyson has spent the past few years focusing her efforts on radically reducing her plastic usage, swapping out items from her across her day-to-day life with more environmentally-conscious choices. She believes all of us can take small steps to making our planet a more sustainable place.

View Article Sources
  1. Schwabl P, Köppel S, Königshofer P, Bucsics T, Trauner M, Reiberger T, Liebmann B. "Detection of Various Microplastics in Human Stool: A Prospective Case Series." Ann Intern Med. doi: 10.7326/M19-0618