When I set out to create Packed, I wanted to create a new tuckshop model – one that champions fresh, healthy, seasonal, local food and doesn’t compromise on sustainability. I find most mums would like to make healthy “nude food” lunchboxes, but the main barrier to achieving this is time and maybe creative energy. How amazing if somebody just did that for you?! It seemed so easy. I would just purchase a fleet of stainless steel lunchboxes and collect them at the end of the lunch run. I road-tested a bunch of lunchbox options on my then 6 year old boys and chose the most functional and durable option. (PlanetBox Rover in case you’re wondering).

Grain free wrap with tuna, cheddar and spinach
Grain free wrap with tuna, cheddar and spinach sitting pretty in PlanetBox Rover

I still believe in this model, but this is where I hit a few roadblocks. Firstly, PlanetBox would not wholesale direct to me. I’m very attached to this design – the compartments are a great size for the range of food I offer. They stack well. They wash incredibly well in the dishwasher. There is one part to open for little hands. There are no lids or loose parts for young children to lose. There’s no plastic. But they’re $80. Each. I’ve negotiated a bulk discount with the Australian distributor, but it’s not much.

Next I have been on the hunt for commercial kitchens from which to prepare the lunchboxes. Finding somewhere that is willing to store 50 plus stainless steel lunchboxes and has a dishwasher with the capacity to manage said lunchboxes has so far eluded me. My $80 lunchboxes basically have to pay inner-suburban rent.

So for now we are using mostly compostable packaging, with a bit of recyclable plain kraft. I was disappointed to discover that most kraft lunchboxes are not made from recycled card – they have the brown ‘recycled look’, but are not actually recycled. Like, seriously, are you kidding me?! Our sandwiches are packed in biodegradable brown paper bags. Veggies and fruit fit into compostable cups. But I was struggling to find a solution for individual biscuits. I also want to make sure the lunch looks fun and appealing for the kids. This is where I made a little compromise and bought small clear plastic sleeves with a monster printed on them to put biscuits in. It means I can package the biscuits ahead of time because they are airtight, and they will last well in the lunchbox. It will do for now, but I look forward to not needing them.

Packed holiday lunches

Our stickers were printed by Black Rainbow using vegetable based inks and an adhesive that can be composted. The last thing I wanted to do was stick stickers onto our packaging that would compromise the ability for the packaging to be either recycled or composted as applicable. Our notebooks, stationary and business cards have been printed by Words with Heart, another impressive organisation that uses 100% post consumer recycled paper and card as well as veggie based inks. On top of that, each product purchased funds womens’ and girls’ education in the developing world. When you receive your order, your packing slip includes a report of how many days’ education you have funded. What a no-brainer.

Do you worry about sustainability? What’s your biggest challenge in reducing waste? If you’re in hospitality, or printing, or packaging, let me know your thoughts! If you’ve got words of wisdom for me, I’d love to hear them.

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