Visit Craftstylish for a tutorial of the Reusable Sandwich Wrap from my book, Sewing Green!

photo by John Gruen

Kick the baggie habit! Save money and bring less plastic into the world by using sandwich wraps when you pack lunches. I made a handful of these for my boys and use them every week. (Ours have Batman and Scooby-doo on them and they never get left behind in the lunchroom!) It’s fast to make and easy to use, which is a major plus for a busy family. The material is woven PUL, a polyurethane laminated cotton, not vinyl coated. (Do you recall the lead-in-vinyl-lunch-box scare a few years ago? Most modern oilcloth is laminated with vinyl. Of course not all vinyl contains lead, but I am passing that along to you for safety’s sake.) I bought my woven PUL from a company that sells fabric for making waterproof diaper covers, called DiaperCuts. Simply wipe the wraps clean with a damp cloth or throw in the washer. Don’t however, put through the dryer as the heat may cause the laminate to bubble.
(edit: Uh oh, apparently Diaper Cuts is “closed” for maternity leave! I found that A Cut Above Fabrics also sells PUL. Searching eBay or Etsy for diaper cut cotton PUL is also an option.)

Make a lunch and make a difference!
Perhaps you’ve never thought about this, but the waste created from school lunches alone is staggering! Recently I spoke at our elementary school’s PTA meeting about packing a “green lunch”. I thought I would share the info I presented here with you. (The following facts are from Kids Konserve)

* Children’s lunches create 3.5 billion pounds of garbage each year
* 18,760 pounds of trash is generated annually from one averaged size elementary school
* 80% of the 25 billion single serving water bottles Americans use end up in landfills
* Taking a disposable lunch costs an average of $4.02/day ($723.60/yr)
* Packing a “waste-free” lunch costs about $2.65/day ($477.00/yr)
That equates into about $250 in savings per person/year.

What can you do about it? Try using these options.

For sandwiches
1) Reusable Sandwich Wrap
2) Laptop Lunch: Bento Box
3) Waxed Paper (unbleached if possible) *While this still creates waste, it is biodegradable and better than using plastic bags.

For snacks
1) Reusable Snack Pouches (These can be made using PUL as well. Hope to have a tutorial for these soon! you can also purchase pre-made ones at Reusable Bags.)
2) Waxed Paper Bags* (can be purchased here)
3) Reusable containers, such as Glad. (Not ideal as they are plastic, but if you’ve got ’em ,use ’em!)

For drinks
1) Refillable drink bottle, BPA free

Utensils, etc
1) reusable flatware
2) cloth napkin (also how-to’s for these in Sewing Green!)

What to ELIMINATE if at all possible:
• Plastic baggies and wrap
• Foil
• Pre-packaged foods (Such as Lunchables, single serving snack packs of crackers, applesauce and yogurt.)
• Juice boxes and pouches
• One-use water bottles
• Plastic flatware
• Paper napkins
• Straws

I hope you’ll consider implementing some of these ideas the next time you pack a lunch. As I told the PTA attendees, one step at a time. I’m by no means perfect, but I try to remember: Packing a no-waste lunch is healthier, saves money and saves the planet.