Dabawalla Bags

Soon kids will be back at school eating lunch out every day of the week until next summer. That’s between 172 and 180 total lunches to pack in a regular school year. Just think of how much waste can be reduced by switching to waste-free solutions! Here’s how to get a green start on the school year, with five fun lunch options.

With its funky TV-tray functionality and 2-piece simple design, Seattle-based Goodbyn is the new lunch box on the block. Think about a deep pocket BPA/phthalates-free lunchbox that your kids can customize with stickers. Snap on the lid and you’re good to go. “I love that it saves trash and they actually help me pack a healthier lunch–I can see what is there and what should be there,” says a customer about her Goodbyn boxes.

Laptop Lunch System

Directly inspired by the popular Japanese bento boxes, Laptop Lunches was created by Santa Cruz moms and features containers of different sizes in a rectangular case, some with thermos lunch gear too. Get the kit that comes with a little recipe book or subscribe to the online newsletter for monthly meal ideas. The big plus? Laptop Lunches sells custom ice packs to keep your kid’s food cold until lunch time as well as insulated totes.

Soft to touch and cool to carry, Seattle-based Dabbawalla Bags are incredibly popular amongst the younger school set. While the fun designs are irresistible, parents like that they’re an easy and stylish lunch solution (with no loud character figures in sight – phew!). Easy to carry, easy to open, these insulated lunch bags are made out of eco-sponge and are machine-washable. Fitting a good size lunch, they keep it cool through the day.

ReUsies Sandwich and Snack Bags

If you’re looking for durable alternatives to Ziploc bags, look no further than the cloth-lined leak-resistant Seattle-based ReUsies for your sandwiches and snacks. Just pack the sandwich/snacks, close it with Velcro and send it to school. Red Tricycle readers score 10% off plus free shipping if you purchase 3 or more bags. Good through 9/30/2010 in the US.

Last, for a revamped old school look, the Palo Alto-based LunchBots offers stainless steel lunch containers with colored stainless steel lids, some with inside partitions, to hold your kids’ lunch and resist rough treatment. No more crumbled cookies!

Now, you may be wondering: which one’s right for me? The good news is, you can check parent advice and look for deals on Green my lunchbox, an online campaign whose Facebook page helps parents navigate the world of waste-free options, featuring tricks, studies and products for waste-free lunches. The brainchild of two Marin County moms who co-created Fabkins cloth napkins for kids, Green My Lunchbox offers its members discounts or weekly sweepstakes to win hot products on the market.

Why wait? Get on the green lunch wagon, play with your food and enjoy!

Laure Latham