Thursday, January 26, 2012
Waste Free Lunch
Yesterday the sun came out from behind the weird misty fog that has settled on our hill and I was able to take pictures of some new products for the shop - reusable snack and sandwich bags! I'm excited about these mainly because they are something I came up with for just us, so I know they work and are sturdy and super usable. I decided to switch to reusable snack bags because I was tired of buying things that were just getting thrown away. In Moses' lunch I was using 4 bags each day, and then at least one or two for snacks or a lunch for Titus. Seemed like a huge waste of money as well as an unnecessary generation of trash. So I spent a weekend afternoon designing these and am really happy with the result. I made the snack pouches nice and roomy and with a gusseted bottom which allows them to stand on their own and stay open really easily. They close with kid-friendly velcro, which has already been very helpful since Titus still hasn't figured out how to open or close a ziplock bag.
Oh, and I did a little research on the "waste free lunch" idea that has sprung up. On the official web site there is a really cool chart comparing the cost of a regular lunch to a waste-free lunch, which includes no packaging whatsoever. They say that the average person who switches to a waste-free lunch saves $246.60 per year per person. Holy cow! I'm hoping to get us to that point eventually, but I figure switching to reusable snack and sandwich bags will save us at least half that amount, not to mention the number of plastic baggies that won't be headed straight for the dump.
The sandwich bags also have a gusseted bottom because I didn't want all our sandwich bottoms to be smashed. I've purchased a few reusable sandwich bags from the store and have been disappointed with their size - I can only fit small-bread sandwiches in them. That's fine for my kids, but Brett and I can't fit our big-bread sandwiches in there (do you know what I mean? The loaves of bread that have rectangular slices instead of tiny square slices,) and we put enough produce on there that they are pretty fat. Our sandwiches never fit into the other reusable bags I had, so I made these a tad bigger, and the gusseted bottom eliminates squishing.
I spent quite a while figuring out the lining aspect of these bags. I initially wanted to line them with something waterproof, but after lots and lots of research I was unable to find a waterproof fabric that was bpa-free, pthalate-free, AND food grade. Even the products that seemed like they wouldn't leach toxins into the food weren't approved for food packaging, so I opted for a completely natural lining: unbleached cotton muslin. This is super minimally processed fabric - no dyes or bleaches or any other chemicals, so I felt it was the healthiest option for the part that will actually be touching our food. Admittedly it is not wipeable, but in my experience it is just as easy to toss a fabric snack bag into the washing machine as it is to turn it inside out and wipe it. Most days I'm putting dry snacks in our bags, so I just shake out the crumbs and use them again the next day. But they are thick enough to hold up well to apple slices, and after those I just wash them.
SO, there you have a lot of words about the snack and sandwich bags that are now available in my shop. I'm working up a batch in all organic fabrics and hoping to add more designs soon.