As if we parents didn't have enough to worry about! Not even the kids' lunch boxes are safe!! What do you need to know — and what's my secret tip for getting kids to actually reuse a safe, environmentally friendly lunch box like the one pictured here?
What You Need to Know: Research commissioned by the Center for Environmental Health in Oakland, California showed that the lining in some kids' lunch boxes contained high levels of lead. Lead can harm children even in minute amounts because it hinders brain development and can cause a variety of behavior and other developmental disorders. Children may be exposed to the lead in lunch boxes if they eat food that's been exposed to the box directly or if they handle the boxes and then put their hands in their mouths.
Because you can't tell by appearance whether a vinyl lunch box may contain lead, CEH advises parents to avoid buying vinyl lunch boxes altogether. You can test any vinyl lunch boxes you already own using a hand-held lead testing kit. If your hardware store doesn't carry one, you can find one from LeadCheck. Better yet, pack your kids' lunch in a safer alternative:
•Reusablebags.com sells organic and regular cotton bags, "Lunchbugs" cloth lunch bags,
•World of Good offers a hand woven reed lunchbox and is committed to fair trade.
•Mimi the Sardine sports fun, vinyl-free water-proof lunchbags (like the one pictured above) online and in Whole Foods stores in the Northwest and Southwest.
•Progressive Kid offers EarthPak bags made from two, "upcycled" two-liter plastic bottles.
•Laptop Lunches makes a bento box sectioned off to hold fruit, cookies, a sandwich and drink.
Pack food in reusable containers, too:
Pristine Planet offers a variety of reusable stainless steel jars with lids.
Thermos sells stainless steel containers for hot or cold food.
Sigg offers more than a dozen stainless steel reusable drink bottles in designs ranging from cool to cute.
Get more great ideas from WasteFreeLunches.com.
What's my secret tip to get kids to bring home lunch boxes, drink bottles, and refillable containers instead of "accidentally" throwing them in the trash?
Put a deposit on them! Let your kids earn a nickel, dime or quarter every time they return their lunch containers for refill. At the end of the month, they can use the money they've earned for a special (eco)something just for them, or to make a donation to a cause they care about.