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Project Lunch Box: Bagging It


This topic falls into the “why didn’t I think of that?” category big time. Seriously, after feeling itchy about plastic bags (and especially about “baggies”) for years, why it never occurred to me to create and sell reusable sandwich and snack bags — cute ones at that! — is beyond beyond. But, luckily for the world, someone else’s synapses were firing, and adorable reusable bags exist.

Plastic bags take about 1,000 years to degrade and contaminate soil and water in the process, plus it takes a heck of a lot of non-renewable resources (i.e oil) to make the millions of bags we’re throwing away every day, so I’m thrilled to support the businesses that make a product I can (re)use instead. Granted, many reusables are plastic; still, at least we use them more than once before they hit the landfill. I really don’t want to get preachy, but if you’re not already using them, may I ask why?

  • Is it because you think they’re too expensive? Granted, some, like my favorites, LunchSkins, can run you about $9 each, there are others that come in at less than $5 — about the price of a box of Glad bags, right? And while LunchSkins seem pricey, I can personally vouch that they last longer than several boxes of Glad bags. My daughter’s bag has been in pretty much constant use since she started pre-K (so over a year now), including lots of camp and picnic lunches this summer, and it still works and (almost) looks like new.

I love that it’s cute and completely devoid of princesses or unicorns.

  • Is it because you think your kid will accidentally throw it away or not bring it home? That is a reasonable concern, and it took some time for my son to get the concept when we first switched to reusable bags. I have to admit, we did have some shrinkage of our bag inventory, which totally defeats the purpose I know. At first, I tried some Fresh Pack bags, which work great but do look kinda like something a kid might throw away.

It's understandable how a first grader might accidentally toss this one, right? Okay, maybe it's just my kid...

So I switched and got him a snackTaxi bag. It’s blue and red with baseballs and footballs on it — pretty tough to miss. He’s been using the same bag for over a year now.

More options from snackTAXI.

  • Is it because you think they’ll get nasty and you’ll end up throwing them away anyway? Again, legitimate issue. But all of the bags I’ve seen are dishwasher safe, and the all-cloth ones can even be thrown in the laundry. Often, the bags just need a thorough rinsing after school; otherwise I wash them with a dish brush and soap and hang upside down (on the handle of a cutting board) to dry overnight. Clean and simple. Really.

Washable cotton bags from Graze Organic; gotta love the “surprise” bag.

  • Is it because you don’t know where to buy them? That’s easy. Check out one of my favorite websites, reuseit.com. Not only does it sell several different types of reusable sandwich and snack bags (all the ones I’ve mentioned here plus lots more), but you can find nifty reusable lunch sacks, Bento boxes, shopping bags, coffee filters, and water bottles there as well. I don’t necessarily want to recommend shopping for more stuff, but once that box of baggies is empty, please consider not buying any more.

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