Lafayette mom's quest to ditch plastic leads to launch of Ecolunchbox company

LAFAYETTE, Calif. (KGO) -- Sandra Harris is Building a Better Bay Area and saving the environment with her environmentally friendly lunch boxes. It started as an idea in her kitchen. Harris from Lafayette was packing her children's lunches when she noticed the amount of plastic she was using everyday.

"I was shocked and I was like we got to do something about this," said Sandra Harris, founder of ECOlunchbox. "I didn't want my kids to be exposed to all the BPA and other chemicals in plastics and of course as an environmentalist I knew it wasn't biodegradable."

Harris searched for alternative options and saw that plastic-free products did not exist in the marketplace. She decided to innovate her own environmentally friendly lunch box that would eliminate plastic use and the amount of chemicals people are exposed to. The style of the lunch boxes were inspired by ancient Indian tiffins and Japanese bento boxes.

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"The boxes can really be wonderful solutions for the future and looking back to pluck excellent ideas from history and pushing forward in new innovative ways," said Harris. "The thing about steel is that it is super rugged. It is just an awesome everyday material that doesn't have the downside of plastic."

Reminded of the business's small beginnings Harris says she started selling her lunch boxes at Holiday Bazaar at Orinda's Community Center. When she first shared her product with her community the economy was deep in the recession.

"No one was really buying anything but we had a crowd of people at our table and everyone was so curious about these lunch boxes," said Harris. "People wanted to learn about these lunch boxes and learn about plastic and they started to buy. It was amazing."

ECOLunchboxes are made of 100% stainless steel. The 'Blue Water Bento Collection' comes with a silicone top that is made from plastic-free and non-toxic materials. All products are leak-proof, easy to store, and dishwasher safe.

Harris has sold 800,000 ECOlunchboxes in the past ten years which has averted ten-million pieces of trash from being thrown in own landfills and oceans. Her children were the first to use the different ideas and prototypes of ECOlunchboxes.

"The kids have been such troopers and they have learned so much from the experience," said Harris. "That has been one of my goals as an Eco-Mom and entrepreneur was to share this journey not just with the world but with my own kids and show them that you can have a dream and by making it a reality."

Sandras' kids also though it was fun to help their mom build a business that was helping to build a better Bay Area.

"I thought it was fun bringing it to school everyday and it was a fun thing to use instead of a plastic bag," said Mabel Vo, Sandra Harris's daughter. "I try to encourage my friends to not throw away things or give them things to be more eco-friendly."

Harris hopes people will reduce their dependence of plastic for their health and for the health of the planet. She believes that providing people with the correct tools, knowledge and by using ECOlunchbox will be a step in right direction.

"The plastic movement has been really slow to grow and to build. It has only been the past couple years that people have wised up to the fact that these plastics we have disposed of are accumulating in our oceans," said Harris. "Now people are excited and they are looking for products like Eco Lunch boxes."

To purchase and learn more about ECOlunchboxes visit their website
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