The least expensive route when looking for a waste-free lunch kit is to design your own. Now, you can’t make everything you need for a waste-free lunch kit – for example homemade silverware (um, difficult). That said, you can make most of a lunch kit yourself, then add silverware and a reusable water bottle and your kid will be good to go for the year.
Pros of making your own reusable waste-free lunch kit:
- Inexpensive compared to some ready-made kits, especially if you re-purpose fabric.
- Unique and personalized.
- Fun to make – a great easy sewing project for kiddos to help with.
- Eco-friendly – not only are you making a waste-free lunch kit, but you can use recycled materials if you choose.
Cons of making your own reusable waste-free lunch kit:
- Hard if you suck at sewing – that’s why my son Cedar uses pre-made lunch gear. I’m crafty, but not very sew-happy. AND by not sew-happy, I mean I’ll staple something before I sew it (I know – sigh).
- Takes time.
- It’s hard to make an insulated bag. Many DIY lunch kits I see aren’t insulated and thus get leaky and don’t stay cold.
Later we’ll look at my own personal criteria for choosing a reusable lunch kit, but for now here are some ideas if you’d like to make your own.
DIY waste-free lunch kit ideas
Sew a lunch bag!
- A super cute mini lunch bag tote (shown above) – you could really personalize this bag for your own child.
- I’ve loved this ADORABLE burlap bag for a long, long time. The one I linked to is made with an old coffee bag, but you could use any sort of burlap. I like the fact that this bag will last a long time and it’s sturdy – probably less leaky with ice packs too.
- Here’s one reusable insulated bag. For any insulated lunch bag you’ll need something insulating of course and this bag uses Insul-Brite, which IMO is not very eco-friendly, but it will last a long time and insulate.
- Another reusable insulated bag that uses recycled windbreaker material.
- A nice simple Oilcloth Lunch Bag Tutorial. Clean looking and you could reuse an old tablecloth.
- IF you are the most crafty of crafty green parents you could even make a wooden box, add a latch and handle (or no handle) and there you go – a bento box.
Use cool found materials to make a lunch bag:
- Make a lunch bag out of old jeans or other old pants.
- Interesting idea for using an old book as a lunch box.
- Make a sweet recycled Nintendo system lunchbox for a tech-minded kiddo.
- Reusable-Upcycled Lunch bag – made with a recycled bird seed bag which sounds really odd I know, but this bag looks strong and pretty cool.
Other lunch kit items you can make:
- This amazingly easy and cute reusable sandwich wrap (shown above) was made by Betz White, author of Sewing Green: 25 Projects Made with Repurposed & Organic Materials. See how to make it step by step.
- Make some other eco-friendly snack bags for crackers, raisins and other snack-sized goodies. Or try this Reusable Snack Bag Tutorial.
- Make some ultra cute homemade cloth napkins.
- Since most homemade lunch sacks are fabric, you should make some reusable ice pack covers for your ice packs or else the ice packs will sweat everywhere, thus making the bag wet.
Got any other ideas? I’ve been thinking about how one might make a homemade metal box, but haven’t been able to find a good tutorial.