Rachel Ostroy was looking for a simple, eco-friendly solution for packing lunches for her three children. Not finding what she envisioned, she went ahead and did what any energetic, creative entrepreneur with a background in both the food industry and pattern-making would do: she created the product herself. The result? Neat-os, zippered bags made with ‘chef-approved’ coated fabric that wear well, keep food fresh, are washable, and can be found in a variety of sizes.
Ostroy, who grew up in Los Angeles and currently lives in Hancock Park, made the first samples herself and tested them extensively with assorted friends and family members. They loved the bags not only for storing food, but for other uses like carrying pharmaceuticals through airport security, or lugging art supplies to class, or bringing that wet swimsuit home from the beach. The Neat-os website has a list of some 78 uses for the bags, and encourages users to add their novel uses to the list. Neat-os are produced in the U.S. and sold via the Neat-os website and Amazon.com, as well as at some retail locations. The bags have been featured on Realsimple.com and online in many food blogs.
“The waste in our food system really bothers me and helped drive me to create Neat-os,” Ostroy told the Buzz over coffee at Bricks & Scones. “I wanted to show my kids we could do better in conserving and recycling at the family level.” The kids love the fact that Neat-os can be decorated with markers, while adults like them for their reduction of food waste and the elimination of unnecessary packaging.
To encourage schools and non-profits to get in on this green opportunity, Ostroy offers ways to sell the bags at a discount to raise funds and promote sustainability. Ostroy is currently running a crowd-funding campaign to keep production of Neat-os here in the U.S., as seen in the short film below.
Between packing lunches and packing orders of Neat-os sold online, Ostroy has her hands full, but she likes it that way. “I love my work,” she told the Buzz. More information on Ostroy and her Neat-os can be found online at Neat-os.com.