At this time of year, our family is in full-swing lunch-packing mode. We’ve had to reinstate the habit, forgotten over the summer, of getting our daughter’s lunch packed for preschool before we leave the house at 7:15 every morning. Hopefully, we get most of it packed up the night before. The routine of doing this over the past 3 years has left me feeling extremely uncreative when it comes to lunch content. There are a lot of good suggestions online, including some by one of our team members. However, there is one aspect of lunch I’m attempting to follow more strictly this fall: limiting the use of plastics in food containers, and making sure I know what’s in the ones I can’t avoid.
The Packed-Lunch Conundrum
Even in plastics-conscious San Francisco, I still see a prevalence of plastic containers holding kids’ lunches. I get it. Plastic is an easy solution. It’s lightweight, unbreakable, and you can see what’s inside (unlike stainless steel). I see the temptation—I worry that my daughter might throw her bag and break a glass container, or on some days she might not even open one of the stainless steel containers and explore what’s inside. However, I know that the scary ingredients we worry about in plastics could still be in there, leaching into my child’s food, even with the news about new and “better” plastics now available.
The Truth About BPA-Free Plastic
Many parents (including my own) will assure me that it’s okay because they only buy “BPA-free”. Sadly, despite this clever marketing, BPA-free products may not necessarily be better. Bisphenol A (BPA) is being removed from many consumer products, such as household plastics and the linings of metal cans, because of concerns about the chemical’s potential to disrupt the endocrine system. Many manufacturers have replaced it with a chemical known as bisphenol S (BPS). There are also additional bisphenols being created and put into production without being tested for long-term health effects. These products are then often labeled as “BPA-free” and presumed to be safer. However, some scientific studies show that BPS is no healthier than BPA. In some cases, it seems it could even be worse. Read more about the science behind BPA alternatives in our article, Why BPA-Free Products Aren’t Any Better.
I finally found a solution that works. Our Bento Box uses plastic in a way that isn’t harmful. The top & outside is plastic to keep it light & durable, but the inside where the food sits it is stainless steel. The plastic used is rigorously tested to ensure it’s not only free of bisphenol A (BPA) but also, BPS, phthalates, melamine, nitrosamines, lead, PVC, & biologically harmful chemicals. It was created by the only plastic bottle brand we trust, ThinkBaby. Now my daughter’s food isn’t sitting on plastic, the container can’t break, and she’ll actually open it, since she can see what’s inside!