These Lovely Lunch Bags Are Made From Recycled Plastic

rü wants to do for lunch bags what Swell did for water bottles, making eco design desirable.

lunch bags by rü

rü (used with permission) 

It's hard to find an eco-friendly lunch bag. I know this because I've tried. There are a few innovative designs that I've written about over the years here on Treehugger, but for some reason the idea of a sustainable lunch bag has never become mainstream in the way that other portable products have, such as insulated coffee mugs and water bottles.

This is unfortunate because a great lunch bag is a game-changer for so many reasons. It saves money, boosts nutrition, eliminates plastic waste, and is so incredibly convenient that, after buying one, you'll wonder how you ever survived the workday without a handy supply of food stashed under your desk.

Perhaps the world is simply waiting to hear about . This company, whose name is short for "re-use," is based in Vancouver, British Columbia. It creates beautiful minimalist lunch bags from recycled polyester fabric that's made from post-consumer plastic waste and old water bottles. Company founder Scott Whitly told Treehugger that the fabric meets OEKO-TEX Standard 100 and is made from GRS gold level certified yarn. "We work with a local distribution company who sources the material from vetted partners in China and Taiwan." 

The goal is for the entire bag to be made from recycled materials, but rü has yet to achieve that with its buckles and webbing. Whitly said, "We've secured a recycled buckle for future orders and we're currently working on sourcing webbing." 

The bags are made in Vancouver and have an impressive 3-gallon capacity. The roll-down top means they can be easily adjusted for size and, when empty, rolled up into a compact cylinder "the size of a wide smile," as the website boasts. Combined with some lightweight fabric sandwich bags, everything can be stashed away in a briefcase or clipped onto a purse at the end of the day, meaning one less bulky thing to carry on the commute home. 

Just as impressive as the recycled fabric is the fact that rü bags are machine washable – exactly how a lunch bag should be, but usually is not. Say goodbye to gross bacterial colonies taking root in the hard-to-reach cracks and crannies of your lunch bag. 

lineup of rü lunch bags
rü (used with permission)

"Why focus on lunch bags?" I asked Whitly. Because it's so beneficial, he said, both personally and environmentally, and then offered a list of excellent reasons:

  • Bringing lunch to work saves so much money. Depending on where you live, you could save $1,000-$3,000 per year. Whitly wrote, "I had a personal financial crisis a few years ago and I was floored by how much money I saved just by packing a lunch every day." 
  • Bought lunches are often unhealthy. The Canada Food Guide recommends preparing more food at home in order to eat a healthy diet. 
  • Buying lunch every day is wasteful. If you buy a small meal and a drink, you could go through numerous single-use items (usually plastic) and a pile of napkins with each meal. "Packing lunch every day saves untold thousands of disposables every year."

's aim, Whitly said, is to do for lunch bags what Swell did for reusable water bottles – "to have a conventional, boring item, and then reinvent it to fit peoples' lifestyles and reflect their personalities."

I'm in favor of investing in any product that can cut down on superfluous waste and encourage people to eat more healthily, which is why I am happy to tell readers about rü. The bags are lovely to look at, come in a wide range of colors and patterns (I totally want the banana one), and the fact that they're made in my home country of Canada makes them all the more appealing.

Check out the full product lineup here. For other eco-friendly lunch bags, check out Modern Picnic's Luncher and Life Without Plastic's Clean Lunch Bag.