As much as I hate to think about it, back-to-school time is just around the corner. Of course, just like every year, I will be buying the required school supplies and some new back-to-school clothes for the kids, but one set of items I don’t have to buy each September is new lunch gear because I buy reusable products that can be used year after year. Not only does it save us money, it also saves us from trashing these items at the end of each school year.
Here are some of my favourite picks:
The Goodbyn Bynto is for the younger set since it is on the smaller side. It is made from BPA and phthalate-free plastic. A bottle that fits perfectly in the middle compartment can be purchased separately. $11.97
Tiered Tiffin Lunch System
These stainless steel tiffin sets come in either two or three tiers and come apart easily. They are spacious, so they will fit more than enough food for your child’s lunch. $24.95 - $29.95
LunchBots Stainless Steel Food Containers
Each time I write an article that includes info about reusable lunch items, I have to recommend LunchBots because I LOVE THEM. Both of my children have each been using the same one since junior kindergarten and they are in perfect shape. They are made from 18/8 stainless steel and come in many different colours and configurations. $19.75 - $29.95
Go Green Lunch Box Kits
Go Green Lunch Box Kits are made from BPA and phthalate-free plastic and come with a stylish carrying case, a stainless steel water bottle, and features a turn n’ lock system that keeps your child’s food fresh. $49.95
Planet Box Stainless Steel Bento Lunch Box
The Planet Box is on the pricier side, but you will likely never have to buy your child another lunch box because it will pretty much last forever if it’s taken care of. They come in the different sizes and configurations. $34.95-$79.95 USD
Otter Stainless Steel Water Bottles
What I love most about Otter Bottles is their simplicity. They are not insulated, but they come in many stylish designs. They are lightweight and the lid is easily removed and closed by little hands. $14.99 - $18.99
Colibri Reusable Snack and Sandwich Bags
It's time to get rid of the one-time-use plastic bags and invest in some reusable snack and sandwich bags like Colibri reusable sandwich and snack bags. This is another product I always recommend because we have been using reusable sandwich bags for years. Colibri bags are Canadian-made by a couple of sisters in Manitoba! They feature a zippered opening, come in several designs, and clean up really easily. $7.50 - $8.75
Beatrix NY Reusable Lunch Bag
There are many reusable lunch bags on the market to choose from, but Beatrix NY lunch bags are amongst my favourite because they are free from PVC, phthalates, lead, and BPA. Your kids will love them because of their bright and fun designs. Be sure that when you purchase a reusable lunch bag that it is free from PVC, phthalates, lead, and BPA as some bags out there do unfortunately contain these harmful chemicals. $37.99
Eco Lunch Tips:
You can learn even more ways to get organized and transition from summer to school on our Back-To-School 2014 page.
I have a soft spot for any woman who decides to take the big leap and start her own business. I know firsthand that it's not easy and that there are always going to be ups and downs. Even though the early days are exciting, they can also be a bit scary and hard. I owned and operated an online business for six years, so because of that, I feel somewhat of a kinship with other small business owners, which is why I always choose to support them whenever I can.
This past May, Marlina Kinnersley started Kiinzel, a local (Greater Toronto Area) marketplace to shop and swap with friends and the community. Buyers can visit the site to discover local deals, new, unique, and pre-loved finds. Sellers have their own storefront profiles and list their stuff for free. Not only is shopping like this an excellent way to re-use and recycle a wide range (Baby & Kids, Books & Texts, DVDs, Electronics, Home & Garden, Fashion, Music, Sports, Toys, and Video Games) of your unwanted items, chances are, you most likely have something around your home that you can turn into some extra cash—and who doesn't like extra cash?!
I connected with Marlina and asked a few questions about her new business.
Why the name Kiinzel?
Kiin comes from the root word of 'kin,' meaning a person having kinship with others. Zel represents the playful, fun, and social side of the platform. We consider our user community family and we want them to have fun!
Why did you start Kiinzel?
I've been selling and buying new and gently used products for over a decade. I've used popular marketplaces and they haven’t changed at all. From no shows to poor online user experiences, there are way too many hassles to deal with. I had a vision on how to change these bad buying and selling experiences into easy and fun ones.
What do you hope to achieve with Kiinzel?
Our hope is to encourage people to help others while inspiring positive impact within communities. We want to build thriving, unified communities that benefit both the environment and society. Our goal is to save over 1 million items from landfills, have 1 million items shared, and 1 million community connections made!
Why was creating a business that is good for the environment important to you?
I grew up on Vancouver island where there is a lot of clear cutting and after a lecture in elementary school about recycling I became the RRR (Reuse, Recycle and Reduce) queen at home. According to NPD Group, we have over $7,000 of unused goods sitting in each household which means there are many people who have more things collecting dust in their closets and basements than they have cash. Kiinzel provides a way to save money and make money or simply swap between friends and neighbours.
Why did you choose to support local crafters and handmade artisans?
Many of our handmade crafters upcycle their products, meaning they make something new out of something old. They are a part of the local economy and these crafters find Kiinzel a great way to reach moms in their communities.
Do you plan to expand outside of the GTA?
Once the GTA is thriving, then we will roll out to other cities across Canada. City roll out will depend on interest, so if you want Kiinzel to launch in your city sooner, sign up and invite your friends to do the same.
If you are in the GTA and you are interested in buying, selling, or swapping your unwanted items, then try out Kiinzel. The bonus is that you’ll feel good about using this service because you are supporting a small business, clearing out clutter from your home, and helping to keep what you no longer want out of a landfill. It’s free to join, there is no cost to you, so why not check it out?
Before you bought your stainless steel appliances, your friends and family probably warned you, saying that you would constantly be cleaning them because every time they get touched, a mark would be left, especially since you have kids—right?
They weren’t lying, it’s true. But it’s not only the kids, adults leave fingerprints too and stainless steel appliances store all of the evidence for everyone to see.
Most people think that the best way to clean smudges on stainless steel is to buy special disposable one-use wipes or fancy overpriced sprays—both of which are filled with chemicals that aren’t good for you or the environment. So why bother when there are natural cleaning products sitting in your kitchen right now? There is really no need for those store-bought cleaning products when you can make your stainless steel shine (and save money!) by using just one natural ingredient you already have: olive oil!
Yes—olive oil! I know the first thing that came to your mind is “but that will leave an oil slick on my appliances!” If you follow the steps below, I promise you, it won’t.
Here is the before close-up of a particularly bad area:
(my youngest apparently likes to play patty-cake with the fridge)
Here is how I fix it:
1. Using a soft cleaning cloth and water or vinegar, wipe down the appliance. Wait for it to dry.
2. Pour about a teaspoon of olive oil onto a different cleaning cloth. (A cut up old t-shirt works great for this!)
3. Going with the grain, rub the oil into the surface. If you miss spots, the surface will appear streaky, so be sure to wipe down the entire area without missing any spots.
4. When finished, there should not be any oily residue at all. If there is, go back over with a clean, dry cloth and wipe up the excess.
Close up of that same bad area shown above:
Quick, eco-friendly, and cheap! No disposable cleaning cloths or sprays can ever compete with that!
Looking for more green cleaning tips? Learn how easy it is to clean your glass-top stove using two natural kitchen ingredients!