Thursday, August 14, 2008

Alternative to "Brown Bag" lunches

I have been thinking about how much trash people create through their "brown bag" lunches. It doesn't matter if it is your lunch that you take to work or a child's school lunch. We can always do things to lessen the amount of trash we create. Through internet searches, you can find numerous websites that have free instructions (oft times they have a picture tutorial) to help you make your own environmentally friendly alternatives to the brown bag lunch.

For a lunch bag, you can use several options. One being to sew a simple lunch bag from 2 fabrics (lining and outer) and to help insulate it, place some batting in between the fabrics. Another little bag that I think would make a nice lunch bag is actually a small backpack that was originally designed to be a mini diaper bag for breastfeeding Moms. If you wanted, you could make the main portion of the bag insulated. Just adapt the basic instructions insulated lunch bag at the link above.

A really nice touch that I found was a fabric sandwich wrap. The instructions are pictorial and very thorough. I have added these onto my list of sewing projects. For those of us who bake our bread in the larger loaf pans, you know how difficult it is to find sandwich containers that are large enough to fit our bread size. Making these fabric wraps are a good way to solve that problems and still be using something that is reusable. I would suggest making extras if you will be using them quite often.

For utensils, I suggest making a roll-up tote. One easy way is to use a fabric placemat and add a utensil pocket with rows of vertical stitching to divide the pocket for each utensil to be placed into. I found the instructions for these at Canadian Living's website.

When taking soups or other foods in your lunch, use containers from home that can be washed and reused. Empty, small peanut butter jars can serve as a container for cut up fruit, raw veggies, or granola. A large baby food jar can be filled with hummus, tahini, peanut butter, or other dip to eat with your raw veggies. For soups and stews, a thermos jar is great!

Make the picnic packs fun and personalized by using fabrics that are customized to your family members. A child who love kittens can have a backpack, fabric napkin, placemat-utensil tote, and sandwich wraps made of kitten prints. A fabric of your husband or son's favorite ball team's logo would make a fun option for them.

Have fun with the ideas and see how you can alter them to fit your family's needs. If you make the packs fun for the kids, they are happy to use them.