FREE e-Newsletter. Receive menus, photos, recipes & lunch ideas.

Follow Us on Pinterest Visit Us on Facebook View Our Photos Follow Us on Twitter Read Our Blog Weekly Lunch Menus

Newsletter Archive


January 2008

Laptop Lunch Times:January 2008

January 2008

In this issue, you'll find:

  • From Our Desk to Yours...
  • Favorite Photo
  • Junk Food Alternatives
  • Green Opportunities
  • Laptop Lunches in the News
  • New Retailers
  • Zero Waste: A New Systems Approach Gaining Global Ground
  • What works...Success Stories
  • Featured Web site:

From Our Desk to Yours...

BLACK AND RED BENTO SETS: In response to your request for yet another bento color option, we're piloting a black and red bento set with a black outer container, all red inner containers, and red utensils. They're now available on our Web site at If they prove successful, we'll add them to our line permanently.
Black and Red Bento Set

FOR THE RECORD: For a short time in December, the Laptop Lunches carrying case was erroneously included among a list of products that had tested positive for lead. We want to assure you that Laptop Lunches have been thoroughly tested by two independent labs in California and were found to be FREE OF THE FOLLOWING: LEAD, MERCURY, ARSENIC, CADMIUM, ANTIMONY, and TIN. We apologize for any confusion this has caused, and we thank you for your continued support and trust.

PHOTO CONTEST: A big thank you to those who have submitted photos for our exciting new project! What an amazing group of talented lunchmakers you are. Winners will be contacted at the beginning of February. If you need a bit more time to get yours in, please do so by January 15th. Submission guidelines are available at If your photo is selected, you'll be eligible to win a free Laptop Lunches gift. Show us what you've got!

PINK LAPTOP LUNCH SYSTEMS AND CARRYING CASES: We're very, very pleased to report that the pink Laptop Lunch Systems and carrying cases are back in stock and available on our Web site at Thanks for your patience!

EXTRA MISC CONTAINERS STILL AVAILABLE: We still have some medium and large unlidded containers available for 50 cents each, plus shipping. For more information, visit or call us at 831-457-0301. These are available in a limited number of colors while supplies last. PLEASE NOTE THAT WE DO NOT HAVE ANY INDIVIDUAL LARGE LIDDED CONTAINERS OR DIP CONTAINERS AVAILABLE.

Amy and Tammy

Got a favorite photo to share?

Email it to us at [email protected], and we'll publish it here!



  • rice crackers
  • soy cheese
  • turkey
  • grapes
  • carrots
  • marshmallows

"I call this my Laptop Lunchable. It resembles the Lunchables brand prepackaged lunches you can buy, but it's much healthier. I have food allergies, so I can't have a lot of the prepared foods out there, and they are quite expensive. I like my 'make your own' version better. I used some cheap dollar store containers as dividers in this picture. I would love it if you guys came out with some more diverse and flexible container arrangements. "

        -- Joanna, Toronto, ON

Healthier Junk Food alternatives

If your kids love corn dogs and potato chips, try some of these healthful alternatives. And don't forget to get the kids involved in the kitchen!

Healthier Corn Dogs

  • 6 veggie or turkey dogs
  • 1 ½ cups yellow cornmeal
  • ½ cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • 1 ¼ cups milk (or soy milk)
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
Healthier Corn Dog
1. Preheat the oven to 425°F.
2. Lightly oil a 9 x 7 baking pan.
3. In mixing bowl, combine cornmeal, flour, salt, baking powder, and soda and stir to blend.
4. In another bowl whisk together the egg, milk, and oil; add to dry ingredients, stirring until just moistened.
5. Pour batter into baking pan.
6. Place hot dogs side by side in the corn bread batter. Allow enough space in between for cutting. Gently push hot dogs down into the batter. Batter will rise and cover hot dogs completely.
7. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Let cool 5 minutes, and then cut into rectangular blocks.
8. Serve with ketchup and mustard.

Healthier Potato Chips

  • 6-8 pounds russet potatoes
  • Ľ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt, to taste
  • Seasoning ideas: rosemary, garlic powder, parmesan cheese
Healthier Potato Chips
1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
2. Slice potatoes into thin rounds.
3. Place in large bowl and toss with olive oil until all potatoes are lightly coated.
4. Sprinkle with favorite seasonings. Toss again until seasonings are evenly distributed.
5. Arrange on baking sheet, overlapping slightly if necessary.
6. Bake in oven for 45-50 minutes, or until crispy.

Green Opportunities

Some earth-friendly tidbits that have landed in our office in recent weeks...

  • CATALOG REDUCTION – Catalog Choice is a free service provided to both consumers and businesses wishing to reduce the number of repeat and unsolicited catalog mailings. Consumers can indicate which catalogs they no longer wish to receive, and businesses can receive a list of consumers who no longer want to receive their catalogs. Visit them online at

Catalog Choice
  • LONGEVITY – How long can you expect to live? Northwestern Mutual has developed a "Longevity Game" that provides a peek into your future by helping you identify factors that can lead to a healthier, more productive life. The company has based the game on statistics that they've been tracking since 1857. Learn more about how your daily lifestyle may affect your longevity, and read their tips for making positive changes at

  • CLOTH NAPKINS – Fabkins are soft and durable everyday cloth napkins for kids, available in an array of bright colors and playful designs. Sized for kids' laps and lunchboxes, Fabkins come in themed packs of five that reflect kids' interests. They make meals more fun, and inspire children to respect the environment. Visit them online at

cloth napkins

Laptop Lunches in the News

OBENTOは世界の言葉!(O-Bento Has Become an International Word!)

People in Japan may take for granted that Japanese mothers who pack bentos for their children do so because the lunches are more nutritious, visually appealing, and waste-free. When Amy Hemmert, co-founder of, started packing lunches for her children, she noticed that many American children's lunches fell short... [Read the rest of the story (in Japanese) at


New Retailers

Oh Baby! Better Baby Basics
Northborough, MA 01532
(508) 439-2896
Monkey Grass
5807 Patterson Avenue
Richmond, VA 23226
(804) 690-8273

Whole Foods Market
Bishop's Corner
340 North Main St.
West Hartford, CT 06107
(860) 523-7174

Visit for a complete list of retailers.

Want to see Laptop Lunches at a store in your neighborhood? Email us at [email protected], and we'll give them a call.

Zero Waste: A New Systems Approach Gaining Global Ground

By Marti Matsch

Recycling has become a national habit, a daily ritual practiced by over 100 million people every day. Yet recycling alone will not end our dependency on landfills and incinerators, nor reverse the rapid depletion of our natural resources. As world population and consumption continue to rise, it is clear that our one-way system of extracting virgin resources to make packaging and products that will later be buried or burned is not sustainable.

Zero Waste is a new way of looking at our waste stream. Instead of seeing used materials as garbage in need of disposal, discards are seen as valuable resources. A pile of "trash" represents jobs, financial opportunity, and raw material for new products.

Other countries around the world and some U.S. communities have begun to evaluate and redesign their current systems to encourage resource recovery and to create a more materials-efficient economy. American companies who do business overseas are already redesigning their products and manufacturing processes to meet the Zero Waste standards adopted by other countries. If they can do it there, they can do it here.

What is Zero Waste?

Redesigning Products and Packaging for Durability, Reuse and Recyclability: Instead of perpetuating our throw-away society, products would be designed using fewer material types that could be easily reused or repaired when they have outlived their usefulness.

Creating Jobs from Discards: Wasting materials in a landfill also wastes jobs that could be created if those resources were preserved. According to the new, ground-breaking report, Wasting and Recycling in the United States 2000, "On a per-ton basis, sorting and processing recyclables alone sustains ten times more jobs than landfilling or incineration."1 According to the report, some recycling-based paper mills and recycled plastic product manufacturers employ 60 times more workers on a per-ton basis than do landfills. The report adds, "Each recycling step a community takes locally means more jobs, more business expenditures on supplies and services, and more money circulating in the local economy through spending and tax payments."2

Producer Responsibility: Zero Waste puts the responsibility for materials entering the waste stream on the front-end with the manufacturer, not on the consumer at the back-end of the productĚs life. The end result is that manufacturers redesign products to reduce material consumption and facilitate reuse, recycling and recovery.

"True Cost" Accounting: The price of a product does not currently reflect the full costs of the environmental degradation and public health impacts associated with the virgin resource extraction, processing, manufacture, transportation, and disposal of that product. When the market prices begin to include such costs, the more environmentally-friendly product will also be the less expensive.

Investing in Infrastructure, Not Landfills: In many communities, strategies like unit-based pricing for garbage collection (commonly known as Pay-As-You-Throw) have created tremendous incentives for residents and businesses to reduce waste and have resulted in higher landfill diversion rates. Rather than using the tax base to build new landfills or incinerators, communities have also invested in recycling, composting, and reuse facilities. In some cases, communities have created integrated discard "malls" where various recycling and reuse businesses coexist in a location where consumers can come to drop-off any unwanted item.

Ending Tax Payer Subsidies for Wasteful and Polluting Industries: Pollution, energy consumption and environmental destruction start at the point of virgin resource extraction and processing. Our tax dollars subsidize many industries that make products from virgin materials, such as timber and mining. Zero Waste proposes ending these federal subsidies to enable recycled and reused products to compete on an even playing field. Without the subsidies, the market can determine which are truly the less expensive products.

1. Brenda A. Platt and David Morris, The Economic Benefits of Recycling (Washington, DC: Institute for Local Self-Reliance, February 1993), p. 9. 2. Michael Lewis, Recycling Economic Development through Scrap-Based Manufacturing (Washington, DC: Institute for Local Self-Reliance, February, 1994).

© Copyright Eco-Cycle 2006 All rights reserved. [email protected]

Boulder, CO based Eco-Cycle is one of the largest non-profit recyclers in the USA and has an international reputation as a pioneer and innovator in resource conservation. Created 30 years ago by everyday residents with a passion for conserving our natural resources, their mission is to provide publicly-accountable recycling, conservation and education services, and to identify, explore and demonstrate the emerging frontiers of sustainable resource management.

What Works...Success Stories

"Great product! I've been trying to eat healthier but bringing all those baggies to work every day made me feel bad about waste. (Especially since I work for an environmental group!) I'm also less tempted to get quick fix fast food when I know I have a box full of yummy stuff to eat. I just ordered one for my husband too. I'm spreading the word about your great lunch solution."

        -- Lindsay Mausolf

"My daughter has really been enjoying her new laptop lunch box. Now she helps to decide what to put in it for the next day and is creative and willing to try a few different items previously rejected. It's so nice to be able to put most of it together the night before, as it saves me time and involves my daughter in her own lunch choices. The end result always looks so appetizing, too! Thank you!"

        -- Beverley Robertson, Ketchum, ID

"I found out about you through a mommy chat board and really liked your product. I bought my first Laptop Lunch Box at Healthy Green Goods in Evanston IL. My daughter takes it to school every day. I pack much healthier lunches that are less expensive now. My daughter's friend saw her Laptop Lunch and wants one. My husband wants one too. So I ordered 2 more from your site. I hope word spreads around her school. It is a great way for young kids to get green. Thank you again!"

       -- Gail White, Columbus, Ohio

Do you have a success story or photo to share? Email it to us at [email protected].

Featured Web Site:


cosmetics Skin Deep, an online safety guide for cosmetics and personal care products at, aims to fill in where companies and the government leave off. Companies can use almost any ingredient they wish, and our government doesn't require companies to test products for safety before they're sold. The Environmental Working Group's scientists built Skin Deep, a one-of-a-kind resource, integrating their own ingredient list with more than 50 toxicity and regulatory databases.

Now in its fourth year and third major update, the Skin Deep database provides easy-to-navigate safety ratings for nearly a quarter of all products on the market — 27,029 products with 7,025 ingredients. At about one million page views per month, Skin Deep is the world's largest and most popular product safety guide.

Visit the site for safety information about the products you use, and consider the following safety tips:
safe lipstick
  1. Use the What Not To Buy list to avoid especially problematic ingredients — like mercury, lead, and placenta — and the products that contain them.
  2. Use fewer products. Is there something you can cut from your daily routine, or a product you can use less often? By cutting down on the number of chemicals contacting your skin every day, you will reduce any potential health risks associated with your products.
  3. Use the Advanced Search feature of Skin Deep to find products that have fewer potential health issues. Choose a product category and exclude the hazardous ingredients — carcinogens and neurotoxins, for instance — and Skin Deep will generate a custom shopping list for you.
  4. Read labels. Marketing claims on personal care products are not defined under the law, and can mean anything or nothing at all, including claims like organic, natural, hypoallergenic, animal cruelty free, and fragrance free. Read the ingredient label carefully to find evidence that the claims are true.
  5. Use milder soaps. Soap removes dirt and grease from the surface of your skin, but also strips away your body's own natural skin oils. Choosing a milder soap may reduce skin dryness and your need for moisturizers to replace oils your skin can provide naturally.
  6. Minimize your use of dark hair dyes. Many contain coal tar ingredients that have been linked to cancer in some studies.
  7. Cut down on your use of powders; avoid the use of baby powder on newborns and infants. A number of ingredients common in powder have been linked to cancer and other lung problems when they are inhaled. FDA warns that powders may cause lung damage if inhaled regularly.
  8. Choose products that are "fragrance"-free. Fragrances can cause allergic reactions. Products that claim to be "fragrance free" on the packaging may not be. They could contain masking fragrances that give off a neutral odor. Read the ingredient label — in products truly free of fragrance, the word "fragrance" will not appear there.
  9. Reduce your use of nail polish. It's one of the few types of products that routinely contains ingredients linked to birth defects. Paint your toenails and skip the fingernails. Paint nails in a well-ventilated room, or outside, or avoid using nail polish altogether, particularly when you are pregnant. Browse our custom shopping guide for advice on nail polishes that contain fewer ingredients of concern.

Environmental Working Group

February Highlights

Valentine Lunches, Green Opportunities, and School Composting


Comments, questions, concerns? Please email us at [email protected].

Want to subscribe to this newsletter?

First Name: Last Name:


HTML Text Don't know

This monthly newsletter is archived at

© January 2008 Obentec, Inc.

849 Almar Ave., Suite C-323
Santa Cruz, CA 95060


Feel free to reprint or forward this newsletter with the following acknowledgment and contact information clearly visible: "Thank you to Obentec, Inc. for permission to use this copyrighted material. For more information, contact Obentec, Inc. by email at [email protected] or by phone at 831-457-0301, or visit their Web site at Reprint permission granted with this full notice included."