Lunch boxes and drinks bottles | Breast Cancer UK

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Top tips for toxic free lunch boxes

Lunch boxes and drinks bottles

Many children's lunch boxes are made out of PVC which contains phthalates such as Bis (2 ‐ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP) and Di‐n‐butyl phthalate (DBP).  Phthalates have been linked to numerous adverse health effects such as infertility, asthma, ADHD, obesity, diabetes and cancer.     A study carried out by the Centre for Health, Environment and Justice (CHEJ) found some PVC lunch boxes contained the phthalate, DEHP at levels 26 times higher than those considered safe for children’s toys.   Many plastic lunch boxes also contain the chemical Bisphenol A (BPA), which has also be linked to a range of diseases, including breast cancer. 

Whilst we managed to rid baby bottles of the chemical BPA through our campaign back in 2010, there are still children's drinks bottles on the market which contain the chemical.  Quite often your child's drink will sit in the bottle for many hours, sometimes in the glare of full sunlight.  

The positive news is that there are loads of fun, colourful and, most importantly, safer alternatives to plastic lunch boxes and drinks bottles.  Choose from fabric lunch bags,  stainless steel bento boxes and drinks bottles or even the retro paper bag look.  A simple search on ‘green’ or ‘eco-friendly’ lunch boxes produces a plethora of fun, cool designs that your children will love.

Our advice:

  • Avoid products marked PVC or which carry the recycling arrows with the number 3 - these will contain polyvinyl chloride (PVC);
  • Avoid products which carry the recycling arrows with the number 7 - these products could contain BPA;
  • Replace plastic drinks bottles with food grade stainless steel alternatives - they're reusable, durable and won't leach harmful chemicals into the contents;
  • Scrap plastic lunch boxes altogether - they may contain harmful plasticisers like phthalates and BPA;
  • Choose cool eco friendly alternatives like stainless steel or fabric; and,
  • Search for plastic free bento boxes - they're a great way to package different snacks and food without getting them all mixed up!

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