Four Steps to an Eco Friendly School Lunch & American Made School Lunch Gear Source List

School lunch made in usa
A typical bagged school lunch contains a sandwich (in a plastic baggie or  wrapped in plastic wrap),  and usually 2 or more store bought, individual serving, pre-packaged items like a yogurt, a bag of apple slices and a package of crackers or cookies . Also included is a juice box (with a plastic wrapped straw) or a bottle of water, a spoon that is thrown away, and a paper napkin. At the end of the lunch, nothing is left for the student to take home- everything goes into the trash, EVERY DAY!  Multiply this by the number of students who bring their lunch to school and that is A LOT of garbage… garbage that can be eliminated and replaced with American-made products. Follow these four steps for a better packed lunch routine.

Four steps to an Eco friendly school lunch, using packed lunch gear made in the USA

1. Replace those paper or plastic lunch bags that are tossed after each use with an Eco-friendly re-usable lunch bag.
It is getting harder every year to find lunch bags made in the USA!

Planet Wise insulated lunch bag | Made in USA School Lunch Gear
Planet Wise insulated lunch bags come in 2 different sizes and in several patterns. They are wipeable inside + out.

2. Use reusable lunch containers or bags instead of plastic baggies, plastic wrap or aluminum foil and purchase the regular package size of snack items instead of individual pre-packaged snack sizes.

Bentology school lunch gear | Bento box and reusable containers made in USA
The Bento Box has been really popular in the school lunch room over the past few years. Bentology bento boxes and containers are made in the USA, and contain NO lead, BPA, phthalates or PVC.   The Bentology bento boxes DO NOT fit in regular lunch bags, and Bentology sells the special size bags but they are not US made.  Bentology leak proof portion containers can be used in regular lunch bags.  Bentology was formerly known as Laptop Lunches when I reviewed them in 2013. These are still my favorite lunch containers! Please note: Only the plastic Bentology containers and cases are made in the USA. Other Bentology products are made overseas.
sandwich wrap
Eco Lunch Gear Eco-friendly sandwich wraps, and snack bags are made in the USA from 100% certified organic cotton. Eco Lunch Gear also offers a selection of cloth lunch napkins.
Reusit snack + sandwich bags | Made in USA school lunch gear
Reuseit reusable snack bags and sandwich bags are manufactured in the USA from American made material.
Planet Wise snack + sandwich bags | Made in USA school lunch gear
Planet Wise zipper sandwich bags are made in the USA from as many USA made materials as possible.
Preserve snack containers | Made in USA leak proof, microwavable, and freezable | Perfect for school lunches
Preserve Snack Containers  and larger Round Container are made from recycled plastic and are recyclable. Perfect for freezing, microwaving, and containing liquids with no leaks.
Replay snack containers | Made in USA | School Lunch containers
Re-Play 2 piece stackable snack containers are made in the USA from recycled milk containers.
Pyrex 2 cup leak proof glass containers | Made in USA | School lunch gear
For the older kids, Pyrex No-Leak glass containers are microwavable and freezer safe.

3. Instead of purchasing water or juice boxes (by the case) that will just get thrown away,  pack that drink in a re-usable bottle.The use of just one re-useable bottle can save so much waste!

Polar Bottle 12 oz insulated water bottles | Back to school lunch gear | Made in USA
The Polar Bottle insulated 12oz bottle is a great size for kids of all ages. There are many kid themed designs to choose from. Fill the bottle 3/4 of the way and freeze it the bottle the night before. Ice will be melted and water will be refreshingly cold by lunch time.
School lunch gear | Liberty Bottleworks kid size reusable water bottle | made in USA
Liberty Bottleworks makes the first and only US made metal water bottle in Yakima, Washington. These bottles are made of recycled aluminum and are BPA free.
School lunch gear | Vapur water bottle | Made in USA
Vapur foldable water bottles are made in the USA from BPA free, FDA approved polyethylene bonded in 2 layers of nylon.
Nalgene Grip + Gulp | Made in USA | Perfect for little hands | School Lunch Gear
Nalgene Grip & Gulp bottles have molded grips making them easy for little hands to maneuver.
50 Strong reusable water bottles | Made in USA
50 Strong water bottles come in several different styles, like the chug bottle pictured here, as well as a gym bottle and an insulated bottle. Fifty Strong sent me one of each style to try out and everyone in the family loves them. They don’t leak and the handle makes them easy to hang on to.  

4. Invest in cloth napkins and re-usable forks/spoons then stop buying paper napkins and disposable utensils

Preserve cutlery #madeinUSA #reusabe, perfect for school lunches
Preserve Cutlery makes a nice line of re-usable utensils.
Re-Play reusable utensils | Back to School lunch items | Made in USA
Re-Play reusable utensils come in a variety of colors and are made in the USA from recycled milk jugs.

You could also pick up silverware cheap at yard sales or use old odd and end pieces.

Etsy offers a great selection of handmade cloth napkins in patterns that kids will love. Support small American business!

Looking for American made school bags? Check out our suggestions for Made in USA school bags !

school bags made in USA

School lunch gear | American made lunch containers | Water bottles made in USA

Follow USA Love List’s board School Days on Pinterest.


Do you try to use reusable lunchbox supplies? What are your go-to items to pack? Do tell.

Check out all of our Back to School Shopping Guides, loaded with stuff we love for the new school year, all Made in the USA.

About The Author

Post by Tracey Hanson

Tracey Hanson is the USA Love List Green/Family Living Editor. Follow her on Twitter and Pinterest


  1. We use all eco-friendly, reusable containers in our reusable lunch bags. I also bought a bunch of cheap silverware at the Dollar Store just for lunches!
    My recent post What you should be shopping for now… Floral denim for fall!

  2. Michelle F says:

    I love all the great tips.

  3. Nicole Sender says:

    I use cloth napkins and re-usable containers for my lunches. I also carry my lunch in an insulated lunch bag.

  4. I love being able to wash and reuse prodcuts. Thank you for promoating and passing the word on about made in the USA.

  5. Hi! I just bought the Laptop Lunches Bento Box and you are right…it does not fit in any of the lunch bags I already have. Has anyone found an insulated lunch bag that is made in the USA and that fits the box & a 9oz LifeFactory bottle. Every bag that I have found is made in China.

    • Tracey Hanson says:

      Hi Sunshine! Thanks for the comment! I just updated this post and I did find an insulated lunch bag made by Hero bags. The size says 12″x 10″ by 4″ so it MIGHT fit the Bento Box (which has a size of 9″x7″x2.5″)

  6. I bring my lunch to work most days. I much prefer metal silverware. I have a small set of secondhand stuff that I use for this purpose.
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  7. Debbie Welchert says:

    What great tips. We do buy extra silverware at the thirft stores here and I like to use reusable products that can be washed.

  8. Great tips, thank you! I am trying to find thermos-style containers made in the USA that can keep soup hot for my toddler. Have you found any such things?

  9. Looks like the insulated Hero Bag is no longer available. Anybody found any other resources for insulated bags?

    • Tracey Hanson says:

      Hi Martha, I have been working on updating this article and have added Planet Wise insulated lunch bags. I am still on the hunt for more options!

  10. Thanks for the Fantastic Review on Four Steps to an Eco Friendly School Lunch + American Made School Lunch Gear Source List! These are some really terrific suggestions! We use re-usable containers for the kid’s school lunches. We are not big into baggies or water bottles to be thrown in the trash! I really love some of these items and will have to definitely check them out! Thanks so much for sharing your fantastic review, all the great pictures, and your personal and professional opinions on Four Steps to an Eco Friendly School Lunch + American Made School Lunch Gear Source List with all of us! I truly do appreciate it! Thanks again! Michele 🙂
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  11. How about Tervis? Was thinking about getting a Tervis tumbler for my son.

  12. Tamra Phelps says:

    I see some nice options here. My nephews would love that camo print! And I’m fascinated by bento boxes. I want every one I see, lol.

  13. Hey Tracey.. Very nice tips for school lunch box ideas. Also, I have seen Martha is looking for insulated lunch bags, I would refer you to check Mitz Accessories for more options.

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