Saving the Planet One Lunchbox at a Time

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Blog Contributor, Crafty Mom and Writer, Gillian, from the Blog “Dried Figs and Wooden Spools”.

When my son went off to school for the first time two years ago, I encountered the whole “lunch packing” thing for the first time as a mom. Aside from the all important cool snacks vs healthy snacks dilemma, I was also concerned about the sheer volume of plastic bags I was set to go through in a single school year. Since I am a) as cheap as they come and b) a sewer, I decided to make a few cloth wraps and bags to hold my sons food though the year, no baggies required. Fast forward two years and one environmental movement that has finally reached the masses and lunch wraps are everywhere these days.

While there are a variety of choices out there from metal tins to canvas wraps, I still prefer to make my own, largely because my son have very specific requests regarding what they look like. Last year it HAD to be dinosaurs but this year they just wouldn’t do, space was the theme of the day (or hopefully the year!) While buying them break the bank (and in fact, you’ll save a bundle over the span of a year from not buying baggies) they are even cheaper to make and can be done in a short afternoon sewing session.

In order to make two sandwich wraps and two snack packets you will need 1/2 yard of fabric, anything non stretch would work but I have found that quilting fabrics are a fun, economical option. 1/2 yard of mid-weight clear vinyl, a package of stick on Velcro and optionally four buttons and some elastic cording.

For the sandwich wraps cut two 12 inch squares out of each of the vinyl and the fabric, out of the remaining materials you should be able to get two six inch square for the snack packs.

With the vinyl on the wrong side of the fabric sew around the edge leaving a half inch seam allowance and a two inch opening for turning. Trim the seams to 1/4 inch, leaving the area around the hold at 1/2. Iron with the fabric side up on your lowest setting to assure sharp edges before topstitching around the edges to close the hole and to help keep the shape during repeated use.

From here, the sandwich wrap can be completed in two ways. The best way to determine where your fasteners need to be is to try it out with some slices of bread. Particularly if you use the same bread week after week, this way the wrappers suit your needs specifically. The first style of closure has the bread sitting in the center of the wrap with the points up and to the sides (so it looks like a diamond) Fold in the sides over the bread and then the top and bottom over the sides to close the wrapper. Mark where the top hits the bottom and stick a Velcro tab or dot in the correct location. For this style I also added a second piece of Velcro two inches closer to the point. This allows for larger or even multiple sandwiches to be packed in the same wrap.

The other option (actually there are many styles, but these are the two I prefer) has the wrap on the table like a square with the sandwich in the middle. Fold the sides in to make a rectangle then the bottom up and the top down marking a spot on each where you will sew a button. Before you stitch the top button on, add a two inch loop of elastic cording that will stretch around both buttons. This style also allows for larger or multiple sandwiches as the elastic make is very adjustable to shape.

The snack pack closes much like the first wrapper with the addition of Velcro on the sides as well as the top and bottom. THis creates a much more secure closure for loose snacks. Again, the best way to determine where your Velcro needs to be is to throw in a handful of snacks and stick a Velcro tab in the best spot.

Once you’ve determineed the positioning of the Velcro, stitch them in place with either parallel lines of stitching or an “x” across the tab.

And as a side note, BPA free vinyl is available to order online, however, these are easily cleaned with a quick wipe down so they don’t really get heated up, which is where the concern with BPA comes from. I have used the BPA free which allows you to just throw the wrap in the washing machine when it needs cleaning but found that I rarely needed to wash the whole wrap.

The average elementary school student produces about 100 pounds of waste per year and while certainly much of this is the food our kids throw out, baggies account for a good deal of that as well. If you replace two bags a day with reusable wraps you’ll save about 400 baggies from going into the landfill each school year!

Click here to read more of Gillian’s blog.

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This entry was posted in Crafts, Kid's Crafts, Sewing and tagged on by .

About Gillian

Gillian Grimm lives in Charlottesville, Virginia where she balances writing, cooking and crafts with eight chickens, two kids, a dog, a cat and a husband. As the daughter of a Journalist, she grew up all over the United States, switching schools, towns and newspapers every few years and loved every minute of it! She now works as a freelance writer, primarily in the craft industry but with a few forays into travel writing, narrative non-fiction and educational matters. Gillian was recently published in the literary journal the “The Northville Review”. You can find more of Gillian’s work at “Dried Figs and Wooden Spools”.

One thought on “Saving the Planet One Lunchbox at a Time

  1. Crystal F.

    I was just curious where you found the BPA free vinyl online? I can’t seem to find where that’s available to buy.

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