Lead as you know is toxic, which makes it surprising that it is in lunchboxes and backpacks. PVC is toxic as it contains phthalates and lead so it’s important for lunchboxes to be lead-free. And BPA is the hormone disrupting chemical found in plastics whose toxic effects have been hitting the news and blogs for the last several years. Kids are going to be touching the lunch box with their hands, then eat their food with their hands, so it is important for your child’s lunchbox to be free of these nasty chemicals.
Before purchasing a lunch box for your child, read the label. Make sure it is not made of PVC. Stainless steel, nylon, polypropelyne or cloth are much safer materials. Look for tags that say PVC-free (NOTE: PVC-free means the lead levels are below the amount deemed “safe” by a government agency). You also want to avoid BPA if you are purchasing a water bottle or food storage containers.
Here is a list of BPA, PVC and lead free lunch boxes.
Citizens Pip You can customize your lunch box with accessories — separate food compartments, stainless steel bottle, cloth napkins, fork/spoon set, and of course the lunch box itself!
The Cool Tote is a replacement for the traditional brown bag. It’s made of nylon thus lead and other toxin-free.
Crocodile Creek. Traditional lunch box style that is well-made and have very cute traditional style, zippered lunch box and kid-friendly designs.
Laptop lunches are good for those who don’t like their food to touch. There are little compartments for separating food.
LL Bean has a critter lunch box line that is really cute and lead and PVC-free. They would be great for a tween who wants something stylish without licensed characters.
LunchBots stainless steel containers. Several types to choose from. Does not have a bag though.
The Lunch Pak by Fleurville is a backpack design, but does have a handle to carry like a traditional lunch box. They also offer a lunch buddy which is more of a traditional lunch box style. (Note: 2 years ago they said their lead levels were “undetectable.” When I called this week, they said their lunch boxes were all lead and PVC-free. Slightly leery here, but they said they lead/PVC free, so they are on the list.)
Munchlers look like zoo animals and they fold out into a placemat, which is great. They are insulated and come in several designs including a yellow tiger, white dog, green bunny and pink panda. My daughter has the white dog – very cute.
PlanetBox is by far the most pricey, but it’s a very cool system. It’s a bento-style box of stainless steel that is dishwasher safe. You can customize with cute magnets. The deluxe set has 2 dipper bowls and a carry bag that has a place to store a water bottle and little extras. The main drawback is the hefty price: $59.99, plus almost $11 in shipping. However, it is something that is sure to last for years.
Lunchopolis is another zippered, traditional style, no-nonsense lunch box. The lunch box lining is aluminum which I don’t care for. Also available are BPA-free containers and water bottles.
Kid Konserve is a similar to Citizens Pip’s customizable lunch box system. You can get ala carte or as a system.
Thermapod is another similar concept to the laptop lunch.
ZAK Designs offers several licensed character insulated lunch boxes that are lead free and lined with PVC-free material. Note, they just mention “PVC-free lining” so leads me to believe the entire lunch box may not be PVC-free. But a phone call to ZAK confirmed they are entirely lead-free. Wal-Mart and Target carry Zak lunch boxes.
ReusableBags.com has a whole section also dedicated to lead, PVC, and BPA-free lunches. I bought two ACME lunch bags — one to carry bottles in for my son to daycare (it fits three Dr. Brown bottles) and one for me for the milk I pump for him at work (it fits six medela bottles).