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4 min read

Lunchboxes are most often made of stainless steel, plastic or glass. They all have different pros & cons, depending on what's important to you. 

In this blog we will explore the different materials and their benefits & disadvantages.

But first let's take a look at some useful criteria:

  • Clean and hygienic: Is it easy to keep clean & free from bacteria & germs?
  • Durability & lifespan: How will it stand up to being used daily; drops & everyday wear & tear?
  • Versatility: Do you want to be able to put it in the freezer, oven or microwave?
  • Cost: Do you need the cheapest possible option, or are you prepared to spend more for better quality?
  • Non-toxic: Are the materials used safe for you & the environment?
  • Eco-friendly: How much energy is used to make the lunchbox & how polluting it is at the end of its life & can it be recycled easily?
  • Weight: will you be lugging this lunchbox around all day everyday?! Will a few grams less make all the difference to you? 

Most lunchboxes are made from plastic, glass or stainless steel. Let’s take a look a the pros and cons of each to find the best lunchbox for you.


The vast majority of lunchboxes are made of plastic. Plastic is incredibly cheap, lightweight & versatile!

But it’s arguably the least eco-friendly option for a lunchbox. The downsides of plastic are numerous, it’s incredibly polluting, it sheds microplastics & it’s reportedly pretty bad for human health.

If you’re on a tight budget, choose the highest quality plastic lunchbox you can afford and make sure its BPA & pthalate free. If you can spend a bit more read on!

So if we are steering clear of plastic, what are our options?


Bamboo is seen as a very eco-friendly option compared to plastic. It’s fast growing & doesn’t need pesticides or herbicides to make it grow. But a word of warning, bamboo cups and lunchboxes are made with bamboo fibre pulp mixed with glue and contain a melamine resin that can contains formaldehyde, so possibly not the most eco-friendly & toxin-free option.


Glass is the ultimate in style & luxury for a lunchbox. It’s also got pretty good eco credentials - it’s incredibly easy to recycle and, like steel it’s inert, which means it won’t leach chemicals or flavours into your lunch.

The big drawback that will put most people off is that it is the most fragile material of the bunch! It's also pretty heavy. A good choice if you’re super careful and don’t have far to travel, but definitely not recommended for kids!


Silicone is great for creating leakproof seals and lids, & sometimes a whole lunchbox. It has similar properties to plastic, both are lightweight & flexible. But the similarities don’t end there. Far from being a natural product silicone is actually made with petrochemicals and you can only recycle silicone at specialised facilities.

Silicone is safer than plastic and doesn’t emit micro plastics, and is hardwearing and durable. On balance silicone is a better choice than plastic.

Stainless Steel 

Lunchboxes have been made from metal as far back as the 1900s and it’s coming back in to fashion as people make the switch away from plastic.

It's not hard to see why there has been an uptick in popularity; it’s the perfect choice in terms of its green credentials; it's infinitely recyclable & incredibly durable.

Plus, a stainless steel lunchbox is easy to clean, non toxic and won’t harbour unwanted bacteria, stains or smells.

The durability of steel makes it the prefect choice for people who work outside, kids and an on-the-go lifestyle.

To sum up

The most eco-friendly and food-safe options for lunchboxes are steel & glass, here plastic performs the worst. Steel & glass also come out on top for hygiene & general cleanliness. The toughest lunchboxes are made of steel while the lightest are plastic or bamboo.

Versatility is important, and this varies by material. Many lunchboxes are leakproof nowadays and plenty have handy compartments or removable sections. Most plastic, steel, silicon and glass lunchboxes are dishwasher safe. If you’re heating your lunch? Unlike glass or plastic, stainless steel can’t go in microwave although it can be heated in the oven or on a stovetop, which makes it a great option if you want to batch cook your lunches for the next day. 

Yes, we may be biased, but we reckon stainless steel is is the best material for your lunchbox over all the criteria we've been talking about. It wins hands down on style, eco-credentials, healthiness, durability, & cleanliness.


We hope this blog has helped you narrow down your choices. Once you’ve got a lunchbox you love you’ll use it everyday and get the benefits of making your own healthy varied lunch. You’ll save money and wave goodbye to dodgy supermarket sandwiches!

Elephant Box Stainless Steel Lunchboxes - For a lunchbox worthy of your  lunch

 Why Elephant Box? 

✔︎ All our lunchboxes are made from food safe stainless steel- independently tested in accredited labs

✔︎ Backed by a 15 year warranty. Our lunchboxes are built to last simple and easy to clean

✔︎ We stock spare seals, caps and lids

✔︎ We partner with suppliers that are committed to high standards in manufacturing coupled with fair & safe working conditions & the third party certification to back it up.

✔︎ We are proud to be be highly rated by our customers with 1800 5 star reviews.

✔︎ Shop now & take 10% off if you sign up to our mailing list. Link in footer!

Whatever you do….Buy well, buy once.

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