The weather says summer. The calendar says school. And parents countywide are figuring out how to pack lunches in sustainable ways. If you have kids at school in the Bay Area, you have likely been educated on the need to avoid single-use plastic – here are a few homegrown products we discovered that do the job.
Crafted of platinum silicone (derived from sand), the see-through bags from Emeryville’s Stasher are dishwasher-, oven- and microwave-safe and seal tight, too.
U-Konserve makes reusable sandwich wrappers and stainless steel containers that are a mainstay in local lunches. A new line of straws in silicone and stainless steel (with or without the nifty cleaning brush) and insulated containers expand the idea of what reusable can be.
The leakproof, glass- lined, stainless-steel bottles from Morgan Hill’s Purist Collective keep drinks and other liquids hot for 12 hours. We like the new 10-ounce size for pint-size appetites. Choose from sippy or handle tops.
The pretty blue bento box from San Francisco’s Pottery Barn Teen is BPA-free and dishwasher-safe and fits perfectly into myriad modern washable lunch bags.
Now, what to put in them…
We get it. Packing a healthy, waste-free lunch for your kids every day is hard. Even our editorial staff gets tired of 100% home made meals–the cleanup! The cooking! On those days when you just can’t, there are new products that make lunch fun for your kids and easy for you. Even better, these lunchbox foods are (mostly) sustainably packaged, upcycled, and good for you and the planet.
Located in Burlingame, Brainiac Kids yogurt cups, drinks, and tubes are boosted with a “BrainPack,” a blend of Omega-3 DHA, Omega-3 ALA and Choline for brain health and strains of probiotics that help keep your gut and its biome in good working order. Corte Madera resident and co-founder Mark Brooks notes the company’s commitment to sustainable packaging. “We’ve partnered with TerraCycle on our applesauce pouches, which will be launching this August,” he said. “And Ingenuity Brands is in the process of obtaining our B Corp certification to ensure our business meets the highest standards of social and environmental performance.”
San Francisco’s Regrained developed a line of SuperGrain+ bars that upcycles millions of tons of high-protein, high fiber grain generated by the brewing industry. Known as edible upcycling, the process returns grain headed for the trash bin to the food cycle, eliminating waste and maximizing the grain’s energy for food. he nutritious potential of brewer’s grain (BSG) and upcycling it into delicious snacks, such as our SuperGrain+ bars. Their new Regrainery is under construction in Berkeley and a revised, 100% compostable package is slated for release in 2020.
Siren Snacks co-founder Elizabeth Giannuzzi of San Francisco took to clean eating after a chronic autoimmune condition diagnosis. The protein bites come in kid-friendly flavors like birthday cake (which even has rainbow sprinkles) and cookie dough with a hunger-curbing 12 grams of protein and 8 grams of fat. “All of our products are handmade in San Francisco,” Giannuzzi says, “and we are working on transitioning to sustainable (and fully recyclable) packaging at the end of this year.”
Plant-based artisan dairy company Kite Hill in Hayward recently launched Kite Hill Kids. So far, the line includes probiotic-packed yogurt tubes in two flavors, strawberry banana and mixed berry. Though the tubes are not recyclable, they are BPA-free.
Perhaps recognizing that 73% of Americans consider a company’s charitable work when making a purchase, Berkeley’s Once Upon a Farm, which makes squeezable, cold-pressed, organic smoothies (and in which the actress Jennifer Garner is co-founder), is a certified B Corporation. The company also works with the Ron Finley Project to provide access to urban gardens and real food for underserved communities in Los Angeles.
This long-running cheese company in (duh!) downtown Sonoma is best known for their Sonoma Jack but a new line of cheese crisp bars blends the company’s cheeses with brown rice and oat bran for a crunchy snack high in protein and calcium. Though Sonoma Creamery’s packaging is not recyclable, the Parmesan cheese crisp bar seems perfectly suited for adult snack bags, too.
This article originally appeared in Marin Magazine as “Power Packed“.
Christina Mueller is a long-time Bay Area food writer. She hails from the East Coast and has spent way too much time in South America and Europe. She discovered her talent as a wordsmith in college and her love of all things epicurean in grad school. She has written for Condé Nast Contract Publishing, Sunset, and the Marin Independent Journal, among others. She volunteers with California State Parks and at her child’s school, and supports the Marin Audubon Society, PEN America, and Planned Parenthood. When she is not drinking wine by a fire, she is known to craft excellent edibles and spend time with her extended family.