Since plastic bags take anywhere between 500 and 1000 years to biodegrade, what on earth can we do to place less plastic in our world? One way my family has decided to cut back significantly on our plastic bag waste is to use alternatives to plastic sandwich bags. Up until last year, we were purchasing about one small sandwich size box and one gallon size box of bags a month for all sorts of uses, but mostly for school lunches and for freezing purposes. Are there really other ways to do these without plastic bags? Yes there are!
Lunch Packing Alternatives
At first, I thought my children might hate being different than all their friends as they gathered at the lunch tables at school using containers other than plastic bags, but actually, they really liked a couple of the other choices I gave them. In fact, they were the ones who encouraged me to write this initiative. There are several options available to cut out the use of plastic lunch bags. Alternatives include waxed paper bags, reusable & washable cloth snack bags, and glass and plastic containers which you may already have around the house.
Waxed paper bags are a great biodegradable alternative! The disadvantage: they do not seal; however, they are great for sandwiches and work well for sliced apples and various other snacks. My oldest son really has been faithful to use these bags. The best part of these is that you can throw them out knowing they won’t be around for hundreds of years after their one use.
Cloth snack bags are a great alternative, and my children have loved using them because they have cool patterns and are just fun. The disadvantages are that they require the work of washing, and are not disposable if you are on the go. It also depends on the responsibility of your children; we had several cloth snack bags get lost in the black hole of my daughter’s room only to return to us moldy and unusable. It was not a problem for my son…only you can tell if this will work for your household. There are quite a few different styles available, and can be purchased at places like Target or at online stores like Etsy shops, or can be made by hand if you like to sew (which is what we did).
Glass, plastic, and steel container options also are great. I have several small and medium jelly jars which I use to bring carrots, seeds and other snacks with us when my 3 year old needs food, and these work well, as do the small plastic containers. The advantages of these are that they are easy to clean and do not leak. The disadvantage is they can break, though for us this has not been a problem. Obviously, plastic containers are still plastic; however, if you already have them in your house, you are not contributing anything more to the environmental waste than you already would be, so you might as well use them! There are also some nice stainless steel lunch containers on the market. We have not invested in these, but my sister uses them for her children’s lunches and she has liked them a lot. They are a bit pricey, but cleaning is very easy and they are quite durable.
Eliminating disposable plastic lunch bags is a great way to make a significant impact on this earth that we live on. It is fairly easy, once you take the step, and our family has been successfully doing lunches this way for a year now. Won’t you join us on our journey to an earthier-minded home?