Eco Friendly Safari Lunch Boxes In Tanzania | While in Africa

Lunch Box for Safari

One thing Erika and I have felt strongly about when on a safari in Africa is the lunch boxes. More often than not, the food is not very tasty, it’s not very healthy and it’s full of plastic wrapping and plastic containers.

Actually, on my first safari in Tanzania about 2 years ago I was positively surprised about the lunch boxes. Maybe because it was my first REAL time in Africa and I wasn’t sure what to expect. But I found it to be well arranged, neatly wrapped, had quite ok food and in some places we even got to pick our own things to bring in your lunch box each morning before going on your safari game drive. But, we have definitely changed our minds about the lunch boxes since then. Especially all the plastics as we are trying to travel more sustainably.

Here’s how a usual lunchbox looks like with all the wrappings for every single thing. And we’ve had worse!

Safari lunchbox with a lot of plastic.whileinafrica


Eco Friendly Lunch Boxes in Tanzania – Do They Exist?

So what to do? Well, I Googled it…! 🙂 Sustainable lunch boxes // Eco friendly lunch boxes // Eco friendly lunch boxes in Arusha, in Tanzania. Nothing came up. Mostly just websites of camps that stated to be eco-friendly, but no mentioning of lunch boxes – Not sure why they appeared actually… Anyway, I kept going at it and eventually came across this Tanzanian advertising website, a very basic website. In there, someone had posted about their new eco-friendly lunch boxes in Arusha – “This N That” they were called but otherwise it didn’t say much.

So I searched for “This N That in Arusha” and found their Facebook page. On there they had several posts about their new product selling eco-friendly Lunch boxes without any plastics at all. Finally, I got somewhere 🙂 So after going through a few of their posts I was convinced this n that whileinafricathat this was the best I would find, so I messaged them to ask if they were interested to meet.

We agreed to meet in a coffee shop and the owner, Sandra Vaughan, brought one of the lunch boxes. That way we were able to see it with our own eyes, take pictures and even taste the food 🙂 She was happy to show us the lunch box and explain the background of how she and her husband had come up with the idea and developed this new product of theirs. This didn’t seem easy in a country like Tanzania where Sustainability and Eco Friendly is still relatively unknown.

The Eco Friendly Lunch Box for Safari

To be honest we were positively surprised about how well they had been thought out and researched to make sure everything in there actually is eco-friendly. The most important fact, it has absolutely no plastics at all. They spent the better part of a year talking to and meeting different suppliers, researching on different materials that could be used to eventually develop a concept that would work which is truly plastic free and eco-friendly.

What’s Inside

So what’s in the lunch boxes and how do they keep them plastic free? Well apart from the food, this is what you will find in there:

  • 100% No Plastics – The entire lunch box and its contents is 100% plastic free and everything will decompose within 6 months.
  • Cutlery and food containers looks like plastic but is made of PLA (Polylactic Acid). A biodegradable and bioactive thermoplastic aliphatic polyester derived from renewable resources, such as corn starch, cassava roots, chips or starch, or sugarcane. So completely natural ingredients.
  • Wrappings are made out of biodegradable paper.
  • The box itself is made out of paper carton.
  • The juice carton is made of normal paper carton without the normal plastic straw.

The only thing in the box which they are still not so happy about is the juice. They still get this delivered with a plastic straw attached to it from the supplier. So what they do instead is to manually remove the plastic straw and replace it in the box with a bio-degradable straw made out of vegetables. And the plastic straws? They are sent back to the factory where they buy the juice so at least it doesn’t go to waste. For all the non-plastic materials such as the cutlery and food containers made out of PLA, they are all imported from the UK as they are not available locally – Still better than all the plastic!

Price of the Eco Friendly Lunch Box

Considering all this, you might think this lunch box will be a lot more expensive than the usual ones? Well, not really. Or.. At least it depends on what you compare it with. There are lunch boxes available at really low prices that any decent company can’t compete with. But what do you get then? Well cheap food and cheap raw materials, lots of plastic, and buying from companies that most likely pay low salaries and benefits. Or you support companies who are likely not paying their VAT or Taxes. This because otherwise it seems impossible to earn a profit with those prices. (We have been told that In 2018, only 7000 companies in the entire Tanzania paid tax, although I haven’t been able to find an actual source on this information yet) So the question is, do you think that is worth the saving?

Are Tour Operators Willing to Change?

Another relevant question is whether tour operators is willing to pay extra for eco-friendly and plastic free lunch boxes? Well, we heard an example of a possible new client who, if he decided to change to these eco-friendly lunch boxes, would have paid 80 cents more per lunch box. And because of that he decided not to change… Remember, we are talking about trips that cost 1000´s of dollars and he didn’t want to pay extra 80 cents… Even if he couldn’t afford to earn 80 cents less, adding 80 cents on the price to the guests I don’t think will make any difference considering the overall price of a safari.

On a more positive note, we also heard that when This N That decided to change all their lunch boxes to be plastic free, they got 3-4 new clients right there because of the change. So there is an interest around it for sure and hopefully its growing!

A popular detail about the eco-friendly lunch boxes is that they freeze the juice during the night. That way, when put in the lunch box, it will work as a cooling element allowing guests to have fresh cool food and a cold drink for their lunch.

How To Ensure Your Safari Operator Uses Eco Friendly Lunch Boxes

So you might be reading this and thinking, how do I make sure the tour operator I book with will use plastic free eco-friendly lunch boxes? The best you can do is to ask about it before you book. And if they don’t offer it but you otherwise like their way of communicating and the offer they gave you, just ask them to get your lunch boxes from This N That and pay that extra few dollars, I’m sure they will accommodate to close the deal and get you as a client 🙂 And not only is it plastic free, it also taste better and has more healthy food in there!

Recenly, former President Obama visited Tanzania and asked specifically to avoid plastic and to not get any plastic straws. Him asking for that probably creates a bit more attention around it than what you can cause. But still, if you ask it will help create more awareness and eventually make it automatic that all lunch boxes are eco-friendly.

Ask For It

So are you going on safari in Tanzania and wondering how you can make your trip more green and sustainable? Ask for Eco Friendly Lunch boxes and you have made a good head start!

You can also read this to know more about our Journey to Become More Sustainable Travelers.

NOTE: We did receive a free lunch box from This N That but there was absolutely no obligation or requirement for me to write this. I have given my honest opinion and tried to describe everything as I saw and experienced it. With this, I only hope that I can make a small contribution and help promote more sustainable travels.