Brownbagging It Without The Bag

It will be a few years still before my daughter Grace starts school, but I remember my own mom’s attempts to cut back on lunchtime waste. She was way ahead of her time. Before anyone else (that I knew anyway!) was thinking about saving trees or reducing landfill waste, she packed me tupperware containers of home-canned fruit, made me bring home my ziploc baggies so she could wash and reuse them, and filled thermoses with hot soup.  I always used a lunchbox or reusable insulated lunchbag, although I think I did go through a self-conscious phase in high school where she caved and let me use brown bags for a time.

These childhood memories came flooding back today when I saw focus this month on packing waste-free lunches.  One child’s lunchbag can send thousands of ziploc bags to the landfill over the course of their schooldays. One child’s lunchbag can also send just about nothing to the landfill, with a little planning and use of containers you probably already have in your kitchen, perhaps augmented with some really cool products from the Reusablebags site, such as this Wrap-N-Mat (pictured right) for sandwiches. It’s only $6.95! One box of ziplocs costs that, so it quickly pays for itself. I love it when I can be good to my pocketbook and good to the planet.



  1. Beth's Mom Nancy said,

    August 21, 2008 at 3:24 pm

    Here I am 25 years later, still brown bagging. As a member of the Club Sandwich Generation (responsibilities for four generations–grandchildren, children, husband, aging parents) my scheduling is sometimes challenging. This week’s, it’s Dad back in the hospital and I’m dashing back and forth between hospital visits and my job. I take my lunch with me to the hospital. Today, some toasted almonds, cheese and deli turkey, a fresh pear. I DO use Ziplocs, but those babies still get washed and reused–over and over and over, so I don’t feel TOO guilty.

    It’s nice to know that Beth doesn’t feel too warped and destroyed by her traumatic childhood of home packed lunches! :)

  2. KarenP said,

    August 21, 2008 at 11:25 pm

    My daughter starts 1st grade this year, so we’re starting the adventure of sending lunches to school. My son will actually be doing lunch at preschool one day a week as well. We bought Phthalate, lead and PVC free lunchboxes from Crocodile Creek this week (adorable, no less! ).

    Now I’m on the lookout for the perfect reuseable containers to go in them. I’m trying to figure out how much I care about the issues with plastic containers. I like the Wrap-n-mat idea, but I don’t really like their fabrics. I’m trying to decide if I have time to make my own before school starts.

    I’ll still need little containers for fruit, veggies, etc. and haven’t found anything that meets my desire for eco-friendly, safe, and cute/fun for kids. I also want to get an insulated thermos so my daughter can take soup or other hot foods to school.

    The other thing I want to do is buy a few fat quarters of quilters flannel (or raid my quilting stash!) and sew a couple of simple cloth napkins for the lunchboxes.

    I’m excited about sending my kids to school with no-waste lunches, and hope they can get some of their friends on board as well!

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