When Elliot lost his bumblebee mini backpack/lunchbox in December, we looked in lost and found but it had disappeared into a black hole in his elementary school. So we bought him a replacement Star Wars "May the Force Be With You" vinyl lunchbox - Thermos brand. Inside the lunchbox a note claimed that it had no traces of lead - a reference to the lawsuits filed by the Center for Environmental Health (CEH) against makers and retailers of soft vinyl lunch boxes that can expose children to harmful levels of lead. Of course he loved the Star Wars lunchbox and never lost it.
Last week, I left his lunchbox on the kitchen table with food in it and discovered in the morning that something (a raccoon? a tiger? a Norwegian rat!!!!) had ripped open the vinyl siding and shredded the zipper and gorged on the rotting food inside. Sadly, the force was not with the lunchbox, it did not survive the vicious attack. Needless to say I was disturbed, I shrieked a few times in disbelief. Bad mommy, I made things much worse. Elliot was really traumatized. We left the house and went to whole foods for breakfast. We called rodent control later that day. We hadn't closed up a few holes inside the house after the remodel and that's how they got in, but that's another story. So now I'm on the hunt for lunchboxes again.
I don't think I'm going to go the vinyl route again. In Mothering Magazine they recommended avoiding the following three plastics:
#3 (PVC/phthalates; hormone disrupters)
#6 (polystyrene/styrene; human carcinogen)
#7 (polycarbonate/bisphenol-A; hormone disruptor)
Here are my two front runners for new lunchboxes:
Cool Tote Lunch Bags are free from lead, and the lining is made of nylon which is very safe. As you may know, nylon is even used to make toothbrush bristles. We choose nylon because it is much more durable than vinyl, and it is easy to wipe clean every day so there is no buildup of bacteria from left over lunch materials.
Asiana West Junior Lunchbox
Insulated construction designed to keep warm foods warm and cold foods cold. These stylish, lightweight, compact containers are built tough and great for meals on the go, or for general-purpose storage for just about whatever you might want to use them for. Great for children’s school meals and snacks. Available in 3 bright colors, each with a removable compartment divider. 7” x 5” x 3”. - $17.95 each