A Q&A with Sandra Ann Harris, Founder of ECOlunchbox.
When Sandra Ann Harris started ECOlunchbox at her kitchen counter back in 2009, hardly anyone was talking about BPA, the Great Paciﬁc Garbage Patch or the pollution of our oceans. Thankfully, that isn’t the case anymore.
Today, ECOlunchbox has sold over 600,000 eco-friendly contain-ers, diverting tens of millions of pieces of trash from landﬁlls and oceans. We sat down with Harris to learn more about her passion for the environment and the latest in plastic-free living.
OSM: How did plastic pollution catch your attention and prompt you to start ECOlunchbox?
SH: My story starts in my kitchen, 10 years ago, while I was pre-paring my kids’ school lunches. Most of the items I used to pack them were made of plastic, because, at that time, there weren’t plastic-free alternatives on the market. I was worried about the long-term health eﬀects of being exposed to plastic from food containers, water bottles and other items. I created ECOlunchbox, a mission-based company, to provide people with a 100 percent plastic-free lunchware line that can help consum-ers reduce their dependence on plastic for health and environmental reasons.
OSM: What’s the biggest factor to consider when it comes to plastic-free living?
SH: Many of us are highly motivated by our own health, so this is a great place to start. Plastic has been known to leach harmful chem-icals such as BPA and BPS, as well as microplastics, into the food or beverage it is holding. A study done last year tested 250 water bottles from 11 brands and discovered more than 90 percent of the samples contained microplastic particles. While we do not know the full eﬀects of what consuming microplastics will do to our bodies, we can try to avoid it as much as we can.
OSM: What are you most passionate about, and why?
SH: One of my passions is joyfully living a plastic-free lifestyle, the other is enjoying the great outdoors. Living in California, there are a ton of great hiking trails and of course the beautiful oceans and lakes to take advantage of. I even drew inspiration from the Tomales Bay and the Paciﬁc Ocean for our Blue Water Benton sili-cone lids that feature embossed marine patterns. The 3-in-1 Splash Box container’s lid has a green eel grass design and the original Splash Box has a beautiful wave design. I love that my passions overlap and I can draw inspiration from one to put into the other.
OSM: What are the main obstacles we have to overcome in order to avoid single-use plastics?
SH: We live in a world of convenience. It is easy to use the plas-tic straw that comes with your drink or the plastic utensils that are available at the deli counter. It’s going to take a little eﬀort on our part to avoid single-use plastics such as bringing along your own reusable straw or investing in stainless steel travel utensils and food storage containers. It may seem like a big life change to ditch single-use plastic items, but everything starts with one step.I would recommend that consumers aim to eliminate one plas-tic item at a time so that they are not overwhelmed trying to adjust to their new lifestyle. One step always leads to another!