If you’re trying to reduce the amount of plastic cycling through your home, a great little addition to your kitchen is reusable sandwich bags.
Most of us who are environmentally conscious probably wash and reuse re-sealable plastic bags already, but these eventually break, puncture and generally wear out. So, if you’re scrubbing bags already, why not look to a more durable eco-friendly option.
There are many styles of reusable bags to choose from and the best one for you will depend on what aspects are most important to you and your family. Who knew, right? A bag’s a bag, isn’t it?
Wrong. Turns out not all reusable sandwich bags are created equal. Some keep your sandwiches fresher, some are harder to clean, and some are more eco-friendly than others.
So, what are the various options out there and what are the advantages and disadvantages to each? Let’s break it down…
There are two basic styles of reusable sandwich bag. The first is truly a bag in the sense that it is a pocket that the sandwich (or snack) slides into and then the top is folded down and usually fixed with Velcro to keep it shut. The second is a wrap. A flat piece of material that you fold origami style around your sandwich to keep it bundled, usually keeping it closed with a spot of Velcro.
The advantage of the bag/pocket style is that less air gets into your sandwich and therefore there is less chance of it going stale. However, depending on the exact style, it might be more difficult to clean.
The advantage of the wrap style is that it completely unfolds for easy cleaning. It also doubles as a mini table-cloth to rest your sandwich on while you eat. However, if the corners don’t fold in perfectly, there can be air gaps in the corners and sandwiches get stale quickly.
Almost all reusable sandwich bags are made with a cotton outer shell. The inner layer is either easily-cleaned nylon or food-grade plastic.
More eco-friendly versions use 100% organic cotton and some even use low-impact inks and dyes.
What you are looking for here is an outer design that you find appealing and an inner layer that keeps moisture in, air out, and is easily cleaned.
All of the bags I’ve seen use Velcro fasteners. Makes sense as it’s easy and fast. So, when you’re shopping around, have a look to see whether the Velcro can be done up if you need to throw the bag in the washing machine for a thorough wash. Velcro can wreak havoc on clothes in a washing machine, so it’s best not to have it loose. Some styles allow the Velcro to be done up while the bag is turned inside out for washing, while others have a second spot that the Velcro can be attached to, keeping the bag in the open position for washing.
Two brands you might want to check out initially (one of each style) are:
- Snack Taxi – come in nice sets with a napkin, reusable sandwich bag and snack bag. This is one of the most air tight models on the market, keeping food the freshest.
- Eco Lunch Gear – is a wrap-style reusable sandwich bag that seals tightly at the corners, keeping food fresh. They use 100% organic cotton, making them an eco-friendly option and the wrap unfolds completely for very easy cleaning.
Make your own reusable sandwich bag
Of course, as always, there’s the option of making your own reusable sandwich bags! The video below gives a quick lesson on how to make a version of the wrap-style. I couldn’t find the link for the pattern they refer to on Breakfast Television, however, this website seems to have the pattern. I know I’m definitely going to give it a try…if it works out, guess what everyone will be getting for birthday gifts this year!