Tag Archives | stainless steel bottles

Litterless Lunch Solutions

I’ve been asked for my opinion on what is the best litterless lunch solution for back-to-school and with so many great options it comes down to each lunch solution being compatible with different foods a family enjoys packing. I have several lunch containers from reviews over the years so I thought I’d photograph different combos and share with pictures rather than descriptions – sometimes a visual is more helpful. I do have a few rules I stick to with packing any food for my children (and self) so I’ll list these before the pictures:

– I don’t use plastic. I don’t care if it’s BPA-free, phthalate free, recycled, etc, etc. At the end of the day, I don’t trust plastic or want it near my children’s food.

– Ditto on the plastic for water bottles. I also don’t use aluminum water bottles that have liners. I trust 18/8, stainless steel bottles and these are what I use for myself and children. On hot days, I include a couple of ice cubes (made from stainless steel ice trays) into their bottles to keep water icy cold. This is a great trick for back-to-school and keeping water delicious.

– Stainless steel is my favorite reusable material for back-to-school lunches. I like using single walled stainless steel systems for most days – I find it keeps food at just the right temperature. Ice packs, etc. normally aren’t required. To keep food hot however, double walled stainless steel is needed. All thermos systems I’ve seen that keep food hot, have a bit of plastic around the top. I tried out the Laptop Lunches system from Organically Hatched and like the size for when I pack soup or leftovers for the kids.

– With lunch bags I’m sticking with organic cotton. I wrote an article months ago about non-stick diaper bag liners and discovered some brands contain teflon. It’s really turned me off of lunch bags – no knowing what they are insulated with. I love the Graze bags…I used them all last year when sending kids with a hot lunch and needing somewhere to put a stainless steel utensil.

– I love tiffins. They are my #1 system because I’m very rushed in the morning and don’t have time to work within the set confines or spaces that other systems offer. They are air-tight, fun for the kids to use and we’ve never lost a piece because kids can’t close the system unless the containers, lid, and latch are ready to be secured. I’m also making more items from scratch for lunches so these foods tend to be larger in size and won’t fit into traditional systems. Also note that tiffin is the name for a style of system – it’s not the brand name. There are many different suppliers making tiffins, I can only vouch for and recommend the tiffins sold via Green Planet Parties.

– Encourage your school to only be using reusable products for food, snacks, and lunches. If you’ve been asked to provide plastic sandwich bags with your back-to-school supplies, supply a few cloth bags as an alternative.

Now here are some pictures!  First up, you know it’s going to be tiffins. Here are two pictures so you see how a full apple (or larger whole fruit) can go in the top container because the lid is domed. This picture also shows how you can easily partition a container to separate fruit, veggies, etc. – I use parchment paper.

This sized tiffin is recommended for preschool to all elementary school aged children for back-to-school. A light-weight system that gives plenty of options with three roomy containers.

The next most common question I get asked with back-to-school is how to transport hot food (soup, left-overs, stir-fry, etc.) with back-to-school. In order for food to stay hot you need to have a double walled system. I picked up a Laptop Lunches thermos from Organically Hatched and it’s very roomy, stainless steel, and will grow with your child because it’s not marked with commercialized characters. It’s great to have a lunch bag to accompany a thermos because normally you need a side container of fruit, cutlery, and a cloth napkin to include. I used my Graze organic cotton lunch bags for this all last year when bringing left over Shepard’s Pie for my kids or soup. I love knowing they can be composted when they are tattered and torn. Here is a picture of this system:

My last visual is for parents that love to pack multiple smaller, separate containers for back-to-school. You’ll definitely need a lunch bag to keep them all together. I know parents love the lunchbots. I’ve had them leak on me before, so I tend to gravitate to a container that has clips and a silicone ring; this usually means that it’s airtight. You can find lunchbots here and greentainers (with clips) here:

For tips on navigating through greener back-to-school shopping, check out these articles:

Limit Your Food Packaging: Make Your Own Granola Bars

Save Money & Green Back-to-School Supplies!

How To Bring Green & Healthy Values Back-to-School



Are All Stainless Steel Products Created Equal?

Ever wondered why you can purchase a stainless steel bottle or lunch container for very low cost at some stores ~ then you see others at double the price?  If you think certain web sites or stores are simply trying to gauge consumers, you’ll be interested to know that the stainless steel grade is affecting the cost.  It’s a topic I’m interested in because I’ve always wondered what the difference in stainless steel grades are. Is it quality?  Are all grades safe?  I got some answers to these question when I started communicating with mompreneur Carolyn,  owner of the estore The Tickle Trunk.  She’s been nice enough to write an explanation for Mommy Footprint readers and it helps shed some light to these questions. Her mission for starting this company was to offer parents a full-range of stainless steel products, but at different steel grades and therefore a full spectrum of price-points.  Not everyone can afford to replace plastic products with high-end stainless steel so her goal is to offer choices.  Thanks Carolyn for this helpful information.  The section of her article “so how to choose’ is awesome…a great read for confused consumers like myself.  Check out this fantastic option for lunch storage container with a sandwich and fruit compartment for only $7!  This is the place to shop for food storage options!


Different countries use different names for the various grades of stainless steel. For example ’18/8′ the most commonly used grade of stainless steel is also known as ‘304’ in the North American AISI grade distinction system, or 1.4301 in the European BS EN 10088 standard. So products that have the exact same grade of stainless steel may be labeled differently depending on where they were manufactured. As mentioned the most popular type of stainless steel is the ‘300’ series which is austenitic, and so is not (or only very weakly) attracted by a magnet. The 300 series is made up of Iron, a maximum of 0.15% carbon, a minimum of 16% chromium and a sufficient amount of nickel and/or manganese to retain an austenitic structure. For example, the most popular in this series, ‘304’ or ’18/8′ stainless steel means that there is 18% chromium and 8% nickel. 304 or 18/8 stainless steel has excellent corrosion resistance.

The 200 series is also austenitic. More specifically, ‘201’ is made up of 16-18% chromium, 3.5-5.5 % nickel, 0.15% carbon, and 5.5-7.5% manganese. The 200 series is a high performance stainless steel, which is cheaper due to the substitution of manganese for a portion of the nickel that is found in the 300 series. The 200 series has a higher tensile strength than the 300 series, which allows it to be thinner. It has slightly less corrosion resistance than the 300 series.

The 400 series is ferritic, (or magnetic) and martensitic (very hard). Again, more specifically, type ‘430’ or ’18/0′ has 16-18% chromium, 0.75% nickel, 0.12% carbon and 1% manganese. It has a reduced corrosion resistance which is improved by having a highly polished or buffed finish. The 400 series is also easier to machine than the 300 series, lowering manufacturing costs.

So how to choose?

‘304’ or ’18/8′ is one of the best grades on the market. Only ’18/10′ claims to be of a better quality. If you are looking for something that will last a lifetime, this is it. However, the ‘200’ series is slowly catching up to the 300 series in popularity due to the high cost of nickel. It is only slightly less corrosion resistant, and the fact that it is stronger, therefore items can be thinner, also makes it much cheaper. ‘430’, or ’18/0′ stainless steel requires a bit more attention. It is the least corrosion resistant of the three, so it requires a bit more maintenance. For example, it should be dried after washing, not left to drip dry. This does not mean that ‘430’ will fall apart. It will last just as long as the other grades of stainless steel if looked after. This is a great option for lunch boxes that might not make it home. It will still be upsetting if it gets lost, but not as much as some of the other, higher priced grades.

We want everyone to have access to plastic alternatives. That is why we have chosen to carry many different types of stainless steel products. We like to give options. A parent should have the choice to pack a child’s food in a safe container, and not have to worry about breaking the bank.

All Tickle Trunk’s products are responsibly made, our suppliers are all verified, and our products are tested for contaminants and toxins. All of these grades of stainless steel are safe to store your food in. If properly cared for, they can last a lifetime.



Back-To-School Green School Supplies

It’s time to start thinking about back-to-school and when possible, I’d like to add some green supplies to my list. The Laptop Lunchbox is first up….what a great product!  Here are some ideas to assist your back-to-schooler!

Green Lunch Boxes and Water Bottles:

The Laptop Lunchbox– This is the greenest lunchbox you’ll find and it’s practical.  If you have a child that eats sandwiches and enjoys an assortment of snack items, this would be a great back-to-school investment!  You can eliminate plastic bags, plastic wrap, and plastic containers by sending lunch in one of these American style bento box. They also come with real flatware and a cloth napkin can be put inside it too. Help yourself pack healthy and environmentally friendly meals for your children.

Klean Kanteen Bottles. Either the 12oz or 18oz bottles work great for school age kids.  The 12oz size can fit into even the smallest of lunch boxes. These stainless steel bottles are available everywhere and are my favorite water bottle because there is no plastic liner, no plastic replacement straws, and they can go into the dishwasher! 

For those extra pieces of fruit or snacks for after-school activities, send along a cotton lunch sack from Ecobags.  This company has wonderful products (including the Ecobag for produce) and have greatly assisted our world with helping to eliminate plastic bags by replacing them with these washable, certified organic bags.

Looking at all my picks for lunchbox and water bottles, I believe these products can be fundraised in your school by Green Hands. This company has assisted schools to become more green in their fundraising efforts and to eliminate excess plastic waste at the same time!

Online Canadian School Supplies:

Grassroots Ecojot Notebook / Journal made from 100% Post-Consumer Recycled meaning no trees were used. They go one step further by printing their ink with vegetable-based ink. Look at these awesome designs!

Grassroots biodegradable corn pen. Except for the ink refill, this green pen is made from  a revolutionary new material derived from cornstarch.  It is similar in look and feel to ordinary plastic with one important exception: it is completely biodegradable!

Online US School Supplies:

Green Apple Recycled #2 Pencils: These pencils are made from cedar wood scraps from the pencil manufacturing process. They are also not coated with laquer. Check out the adorable packaging.

Red Apple School Supplies also sells back-to-school packs, complete with most all the supplies your child will need. Check out this pack from Red Apple School Supplies.

Large US and Canadian chains have vowed to keep green supplies available to customers:  Staples, Office Max, and Office Depot.  Looking at the Staples website, I noticed a section marked EcoEasy Products. Within this section you can complete your list with binders, calculators, ink, and paper.



A ‘Green’ Way to Raise Money For Schools

Fundraising campaigns for schools, athletic teams, and clubs is changing.  The desire to do the right thing for the environment has crept into all aspects of parenting and education with our kids…why not fundraising?!  Tracy Green of Green Hands Fundraising has found a great way to generate money for schools, while supplying parents and children an avenue to eliminate waste from school box lunches.  Her vision is to create litterless lunches by supplying stainless steel bottles and laptop lunches.  

Tracy Green started this green fundraising company when she recognized the lack of environmentally conscious and socially responsible products available to schools and organizations wanting to fundraise. In the midst of the BPA controversy, she decided to run a fundraiser with Klean Kanteen bottles to try and eliminate all of the plastic water bottles children were drinking from. In the hope of raising a few hundred dollars, the success of this fundraiser went off the charts!  Selling a product that parents need, while helping our environment seemed to be the perfect fit.  Also, have you attempted to source stainless steel bottles lately?  The prices are very expensive and they are hard to find.  With Green Hands, the sourcing of bottles has already been done, the prices are fair or even below retail cost, and money goes back into your school for finding a product you need!  How awesome is that?

Not only does Tracy run the fundraiser hand-in-hand with the PAC or teachers, she will educate regarding BPA and healthy alternatives. She is branching out to Eco Bags and has lots of cutting edge, cool ideas for fundraising products.  She is one of the most knowledgeable people I’ve spoken to locally about environmental issues, and has been successful since starting up just before the school year wrapped up last year. So if you are looking for fundraising alternatives to selling Entertainment books or wrapping paper, you can contact Tracy in the Fall when school starts back. This awesome company, based from the common sense approach of giving parents products they actually need, is very successful with generating dollars to help schools and athletic teams.  Klean Kanteen, Bilt Bottles, Laptop Lunch Kits, Eco bags, and Eco cleaning supplies are all on her list of fundraising possibilities.  Visit the site Green Hands Fundraising for more information or to contact Tracy with questions.



Return Bad Plastics to Zellers & London Drugs

Just heard about a great initiative from Zellers and London Drugs taking back plastic baby/kids merchandise containing BPA.  Thanks to Kirsten for the email!

In a move showing superior customer service, both Zellers and London Drugs are excepting returns of BPA riddled baby products in return for in-store gift cards.  Even if you didn’t purchase these products there, you can try taking them back.  This includes bottles, sippy cups, soothers, breast pumps, food containers, microwave sterilizers, and Nalgene bottles.  These products need to have the recycling code 7 or no recycling code to be returned.  What a great move by these two companies!  I would run, not walk, as I’m sure this move of generosity will be short-term, but it sure helps off-set the high cost of replacing all of these products.  Especially when London Drugs sells the brand Thermos which has stainless steel water bottles and stainless steel food jars.  See my previous article on Thermos stainless steel bottles for the low-down on this product.  The food jars are small and pricey, but would be perfect to store fruit or soup for school box lunches.

So go through your old plastics and make a list of BPA free products you need!  Read through some cheat sheets and educate yourself on what products should go back and which need to be purchased.  Here is a great cheat sheet if you need to brush up on your BPA knowledge.



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