Friday, February 26, 2010

Product Review: The Goodbyn Lunch Box

Goodbyn Lunchbox, BlueOur family is always looking for ways to be eco-friendly (we wouldn't be the Green Organic family, if we didn't) ;)  We successfully navigated babyhood, and reduced our landfill waste by choosing cloth diapers and training pants.  Mission accomplished!  But what's the next biggest source of trash, after diapers?  My guess would be school lunches.

Green Organic Girl attends all-day preschool, and at age three, she was already bringing a packed lunch and snacks, five days a week.  We love her preschool, and especially the healthy eating rules, like the avoidance of the four "C's": no cookies, no chocolate, no cake, no candy. We plan to continue that trend, when Green Organic Girl starts big-girl school in the fall.

Avoiding sugary treats in lunch boxes is actually quite easy.  In our weekly share of organic produce from our buying club, there are always some of my daughter's favorites: ripe, local Florida strawberries, juicy cherry tomatoes, crispy bell peppers, baby-cut carrots, crunchy cucumber, etc.).  These are all healthy, tasty, and easy-to-eat finger foods, that readily pack well into lunch boxes.  Accompanying her fruit and veggies are always a tube of Stonyfield Farm YoKids organic yogurt, and some cheese, for protein and calcium.  Add a small handful of organic crackers, and that's a delicious variety of snacks that my daughter really loves.  

After deciding what to bring, the next problem in packing lunches is the transporting.  Lunch bags all have a finite amount of space, and while we buy in bulk whenever we can, and try to avoid extra packaging (like, from individually wrapped single portions), we ultimately need something to store these snacks in.  We've tried to minimize our use of little plastic sandwich baggies, which ultimately get thrown away; creating landfill waste.  But reusable containers can quickly take up all the available space in a lunch box, and there's the issue of lids getting misplaced.  We've also tried reusable sandwich wraps, but they're not quite suited to small items, like teeny little duck-shaped cheese crackers, and they're not transparent.  We all know we eat with our eyes, as much as with our mouths.  If Green Organic Girl can't see what's inside, she may not open it.  We needed a better option for portable food storage.

In addition, we have a climate-related problem, living here in the very humid Florida Keys.  We've now gone through two fabric-lined lunch boxes, to try to avoid exposure to the lead that may leach from PVC-lined lunch bags.  Unfortunately, no amount of airing out, washing, and exposure to the sun prevented this big issue: mold.  We unfortunately, had to throw away two lunch bags already, due to mold growing on the fabric.  Avoiding PVC is one thing, but tossing out functioning lunch bags due to mold is not an eco-friendly solution.

Lucky for us, an amazing and totally adorable lunch solution awaited us: the Goodbyn.  We instantly fell in love with this innovative lunch box; USA-made with solid, molded, non-leaching plastic (and solid plastic for us means no mold growth).  This hard-case lunch box takes after the bento box design of Japanese lunch boxes.  Growing up in an Asian household, I had a few beloved bento boxes, and the compartments were just the coolest thing :)


The Goodbyn is so functional, yet simple to use.  The whole box is comprised of only two pieces; the base tray, and the lid.  All the little compartments are built in, and there are no little pieces to lose.  Everything seals in shut; safely tucked away in its own compartment, and separated from the rest of the food in the box.  Fruits stay moist and juicy, crackers stay dry, and your sandwich won't get squished, or come apart.  Just open the lid, and voila!  Your healthy lunchtime smorgasbord awaits.  My daughter loves sampling a little bit of everything on her plate when she sits down to eat (lucky for me), and her Goodbyn lets her do exactly that at lunchtime.  She can see everything in front of her, and easily move from one item to the next, without having to open extra packages and containers.

We are very pleased with our Goodbyn.  I love that it has a simple, yet functional and sturdy design.  It's also USA-made from food-grade plastic, that is free of BPA, PVC, and phthalates.  As the base is one single molded piece, there are no impossible-to-clean nooks and crannies, and the whole thing, even when decorated with the assortment of 275 stickers, can safely go in the dishwasher.  (However, if your dishwasher is anything like mine, a greasy film still remains on all plastic items, so we just hand-wash them instead.  The whole thing washes up very easily, and air-dries in the dish rack.)  The stickers are just too cool, and with 275 options, including everything from eyes and ears to tails, a multitude of upper- and lower-case letters, and other odds and ends, your child can truly make this lunch box their own custom creation.  Ours is a pink box, boasting green, square-shaped eyeglass frames, a big red clown nose, a mermaid tail, and assortment of food.  A true work of art ;)  I also love that at the end of its useful life, the Goodbyn can go straight into the recycle bin.  There's even a sticker of a recycle symbol ;)  I think it's wonderful that there was also so little outer packaging, when the product arrived.  Just a partial  cardboard sleeve, coming from an FSC-certified Washington-based printer; printed with vegetable-based inks, on recycled material.  I really like the extra thought put into the design of the closure of the cardboard sleeve; allowing the whole thing to seal itself, with no tape or glue!  Now that is smart, eco-friendly thinking :)
In researching for this purchase, I did come across some reviews from other parents, describing some minor issues with the Goodbyn.  The first was the opening and closing of the unit, and ensuring a tight fit with the lid. Thankfully, Goodbyn enclosed a little pamphlet with diagrams on how to best close the box.  The trick to opening the box is to start from the "ears".  Once the "head" is free, I use my fingers under the lid to gently pop the lid loose.  Very simple!  Closing it requires a few strategic presses, but what reusable plastic container doesn't?  The trick here is to start from the middle, and if your child is doing this, have them stand up, with the Goodbyn laying on a flat surface at waist level, for a little more leverage.  Two presses directly under the eyes, then under the nose, and then at the bottom.  Then press all around the outer perimeter, to make sure the outer edges have sealed.  It's actually quite quick and easy.  Even my four-and-a-half year old can do this :)

The second issue I came across in reviews, is with the accompanying drink bottle.  Many parents expressed frustration with the tab on the lid, that just will not stay closed.  Ours wouldn't close at all.  I sent a comment into Goodbyn via their website, inquiring about this lid issue, and within hours, I received a very kind reply.  Goodbyn is well aware of issues with opening/closing the unit, and the bottle top as well.  To address these issues, Goodbyn has worked with their manufacturer, and there will be a new line coming out in March 2010.  The Goodbyn rep was kind enough to offer to send me a replacement bottle from this new line, in a matching color for our lunch box.  It was refreshing, experiencing great customer service, backing a great product. 

My final concern with the Goodbyn had to do with food safety, and keeping cold food cold.  This is actually when the compartments come in very handy.  Green Organic Girl already has several small gel cold packs by Boo Boo Buddy, which are PVC-free, and filled with non-toxic gel.  They also come in the cutest shapes, like pets and other animals.  They stay soft and flexible, even when frozen.  They're meant for soothing bumps and bruises, but these are also just the right size to fit in the sandwich compartment, and top compartment, to keep sandwiches, yogurt containers, cheese, and beverages cold.  I stocked up on a few extra Boo Boo Buddies for this purpose.  However, in future versions of the Goodbyn, I would really like to see perhaps some type of double-walled construction, kind of like those found in some sippy cups.  That would help maintain the temperature within the compartment, as long as it stays closed.  Perhaps some type of form-fitted gel-filled removable insert for those larger compartments would work as well.  I'm sure the innovative team behind Goodbyn will come up with some great solutions.


All in all, we are extremely pleased with our Goodbyn.  For us, it was a smart and fun eco-friendly choice.  We're also glad to be supporting a domestic company, that truly stands by its product, and our planet.  The makers of Goodbyn proudly participate in 1% for the Planet, a program for businesses, committed to keeping the Earth healthy.  We look forward to enjoying lots of yummy, healthy lunches with our Goodbyn, and we're glad to see another option soon to be available for older kids, called the "Too Cool For Ears" option.  Hmm... I think I may have to pick up one of those for myself ;)



No promotional consideration was paid for this post.  This is a review of a personal purchase.
Images courtesy of Goodbyn.com.

8 comments:

  1. Super cute!!! First thought that came to my mind when I saw it was BENTO BOX!!

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  2. That's cute. The one I found is for adult lunch container which is also eco-friendly. The container is made of high quality stainless steel and is very easy to use. And I really love its design. =) I hope we can all go for green so that we can make a huge change.

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  3. That is a CUTE lunch box! I still need to find an "adult" one to take back and forth to work!

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  4. Excellent review! I've been looking for something like this. I'm even having trouble finding a small drink container that is easy to keep clean. Thank you!

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  5. Isn't this the cutest? I'm happy to report that after daily use, over the past four months, our Goodbyn is still going strong! It is so amazingly easy to clean up every night, as I hand-wash it in the sink, and let it dry overnight in the dish rack. In the morning, I enjoy my little packing routine; filling the compartments with healthy yummies, while watching the TODAY show. My daughter still loves opening her box at school, and seeing her array of snacks in front of her. Too much fun! I wish I had one of these, when I was her age ;)

    I'm also happy to report that we finally received our free replacement drink bottle from the manufacturer. The pink top matches perfectly with our existing pink Goodbyn. So did the new bottle top address the leakage and closure issues of Version 1.0? Absolutely yes! The redesigned lid seals tight, yet is easy for my preschooler to open and close, all by herself. We won't have any leakage problems at all. Great job, Goodbyn ;)

    Faye @ GreenOrganicMama.com

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  6. Still loving our wonderful, sturdy Goodbyn!

    We found another way to keep things fresh and cold. While we always try to go with less packaging, some things like cheese and yogurt just have to be sealed. In addition to Boo Boo Buddy ice packs, I started freezing string cheese, and tubes of Stonyfield YoKids organic yogurt "Squeezers". Those fit in the top compartment of our Goodbyn, and stayed cold, and kept other things around them cold as well. Their taste and texture weren't affected by the thawing process :)

    Wishing everyone a fantastic 2010-2011 school year! Enjoy greening your lunches :)

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  7. I bought my boys Goodbyns last year and we LOVE them! I find that I am much more aware of what I am putting in their lunchboxes when I can see it all at once. I am also way more likely to put fruits and veggies in their lunch since I don't need an individual baggie for each item!

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