In DIY and Make-Do tutorials, Sewing Tutorial

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.

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Showing 34 comments
  • Angel

    Thanks for a wonderful tutorial. I’ll be making some of these very soon. Thank you.

  • Janie

    Lovely post and a personal rant of mine too! I reuse the plastic bag that our sliced sandwich loaves come in to wrap up lunches or pop them straight in a lunch box.
    xx

  • Mama Urchin

    What a great post Betz! Thanks for the info and the links.

  • quinn

    What a lovely idea – thanks so much!

    I never stopped using waxed paper for packing lunches, although I got razzed about it quite a bit :)

    and since I now have a woodstove, the crumpled-up used paper doesn’t go to waste – i throw it in a box year-round and use it for starting fires.

  • Felt Sew Good

    Thanks for the tutorial and great info! Definitely something to think about.

  • Chris

    What a great idea! And better than trying to wash and re-use plastic bags. I think I’m going to love your Sewing Green book!

  • Georgia

    Love this idea! Totally put me on a guilt trip-making 4 lunches every morning, always makes me feel really guilty. Not sure my teen boys would be into that, but my younger two I may convince.

  • Anonymous

    I am going to buy your book for my daughter-in-law. She loves “green”! She isn’t a sewer per say; but she wants to learn. I think this will put her over the edge, and bring her to the sewing side.
    Have a great day.
    Donnelly

  • Pockafwye

    I found my way here after seeing your reusable sandwich wrap on Whip Up. Great ideas!

  • Heather

    I also came here from whip up. Great ideas that I will have to implement. I already use a stainless steel water bottle and reusable plastic containers from IKEA (my daughter likes to have all sorts of food in her lunches that seem to only work with plastic containers, unfortunately) … but I could do better at making her her own cloth napkins :)

  • Heather

    I came here from whip up too. cute idea!

    If you are still in need of PUL, I get mine from verybaby.com.

  • dottyspots

    Fabulous idea :0)

  • Celia

    Thanks so much for all the links and the tutorial! I am going to make some for my kid!
    Thanks!

  • Cindy

    I love the superhero idea! I use fabric lunch bags so I use reusable plastic containers for sandwiches but same result.

    Just an FYI, real PUL can be thrown in the dryer on hot just fine. In fact, it was designed for use in medical facilities. A trip through the hot dryer actually helps reseal the laminate. I made diaper covers from PUL for my first baby before moving to felted wool :) for my second.

  • Sandra

    This is just gorgeous! What a great, environmentally-friendly idea. I would be much more inspired by my sandwiches if they came wrapped like this!

  • Mytutorlist.com

    What a great idea! No more waste, and saves money too!

  • Gretchen

    What a great idea to talk to the PTA one night about this. I so wish my child’s school was a bit greener in how they do things.

  • laura drescher

    Thank you so much for the info~
    i am now armed with info for the playgroup gals~
    GREATLY apprecciated…

  • Neuza

    Hi, I offered you a label in my blog. Check it ;)
    Kiss*

  • Bethany

    I’ve always wanted to make these! Great tutorial!

  • Becky

    Awesome idea! I need to make some of those.

  • Hoosier Homemade

    Thanks for sharing! I will have to make some of those!
    ~Liz

  • Kate

    What a great post. I have been really trying to come up with plastic baggy replacements so I definitely look forward to your tutorial. Not only for lunches, but for everytday home use too. It is just hard to find something that works better than a baggy sometimes!

  • essentiallyrare

    Using reuseable sandwich/snack bags is a MUST MUST MUST.

    Ziplocs are a tremendous waste of energy and resources PLUS they are not even pretty!

    I found these snackTAXIS a while ago. They were featured somewhere..oprah? not sure.

    http://www.snacktaxi.com/

    affordable too.

  • Audra

    I try to use waxed paper for my hubby’s sandwiches but would be a definite improvement! Thanks!

  • Anonymous

    Hello,

    I noticed some makers of sandwich wraps on etsy are using nylon cloth as the interior liner. I have researched this some, seems okay…what do think about that?

    catherine

  • Martyso

    I just finished making your wrap and I love it!! I have the book Sewing Green and used those instructions.
    Since I have a huge stash of fabric and didn’t want to buy anymore, I just used 2 liners from the inside of cereal boxes and they seem to be working fine. (Probably not going to throw in the washer and dryer yet :-)
    I do have pics if you want to see them.

  • Chanel

    Thanks for a wonderful tutorial. I’ll be making some of these very soon. Thank you.

  • Anonymous

    I just love this Sandwich bag idea.
    Has anyone looked into using the ironed plastic grocery bags as a liner between two cotton layers.

    I think I will try that next. I hope its not too bulky. I’ll let you know.

  • eileensideways

    my friend makes lunch bags and she uses something called “ripstop” nylon which is similar to PUL. comes in pretty colors.

  • Lucy

    I use these lunch bags and they are great. I am NOT a sewing type of women. I just can’t seem to master it. I bought mine from a business called Green Ostrich, but if you can make it, do it! Also, if you are looking for plastic flatware, I have just the fix! I have found a company that has biodegradable plastic flatware! It degrades completely in under 360 days. It totally eases my mind. The website is http://www.umg-green.com/plasticutensils. They are amazing and you can’t even tell a difference.

  • reusable bags

    i am shocked to see the data in the blog related to the waste produced by the school children only. It is true we want to save our planet then we have to reduce and recycle the waste, specially plastic.

  • Eblaze

    This is great!!! The amount of waste generated at an elementary school lunch period is staggering. We have found that after schools have run a Back2Tap litterless lunch and bottle fundraiser lunchtime garbage is reduced 50%. While I have always LOVED ziplocs, it is definitely a change for a better environment.

  • ab

    I had wanted to ask if nylon is considered food safe. Are some oil cloths food safe and others not? Is silk food safe?

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