Today, April shares her two favorite plastic bag alternatives: snackTAXIs and Lunch Skins. Read on for more information about these fabulously stylish and eco-friendly lunch and snack packing solutions, as well as to learn how to win a trio of snackTAXI and Lunch Skins products (entry closes at midnight, October 21):
“Before I had my daughter, I didn't use many Ziploc bags. I had always been conscious of the plastic waste before parenthood. But the pacifiers that must be kept clean, the tidbits and snacks for every trip out of the house, and the sandwiches and munchies that can overrun the life of a family with a child are staggering. I simply had no clue that we would contribute such a hefty amount to the 500 billion to 1 trillion plastic bags discarded globally every year. I cringe thinking about it. I had always been so careful before, but when I had my daughter I didn't feel I had options that let me curtail our usage while still doing what we needed to get out of the house.
When I came out of the fog after her first year, my more alert self was beyond a little horrified and we did some quick changing to more reusable containers. Thinking ahead a few years, we'll be staring daily school lunches in the face and after-school snacks on the go. Even now, our every outing requires a bag of snacks. That would be a lot of plastic if we didn't have an alternate plan. Thankfully it was easy to reign it in right away, especially since there are the wonderful reusable bag products by snackTAXI and Lunch Skins. Reusable containers are nice, but sometimes you need a bag -- something that folds flat and takes up no room when empty, something that fits the space you have available. And, as I found out, sometimes you need several kinds and sizes.
I still use plastic bags on occasion, but not without thinking if a snackTAXI, Lunch Skin, or reusable container would work better. It's really cut back on our use of disposable bags. It may not feel like a dent in the 500 billion, but at least we're contributing to the problem less than we were, and that makes a difference. As it is, we have several of each brand, so we usually have the right combo for what we need. I save the plastic bags for when I need their benefits the most—like transporting spill-y, gooey shampoo in my luggage. The rest of the time I go for the reusable as often as possible. Even if it's not 100 percent, it's an easy improvement on a huge global problem.
Here are our two go-to reusable bag brands:
This hand sewn bag (made in nearby Plainfield, MA) has a vertical Velcro closure, so you can fasten it tighter or looser, depending on the contents. I like it for all kinds of things, but especially for Cheerios and Rice Krispies and other little foods, since I can fasten it tighter and there's no gap for the contents to rain all over the inside of my bag. The outside of the bag is 100% cotton and the inside has a polyurethane coated nylon that is free from heavy metals and pthalates and other bad things. They have plenty of different designs, so each person can pick their own lunch or snack bag for the day.
Snack Taxis come in 6" x 4.5" (snack-sacks) and 7.5 "x 6" (sandwich-sacks).
This stylized bag is made from a printed white fabric that feels like smooth sail cloth. The white makes it easy to see if it's really clean or not. It has a horizontal Velcro closure. You can't change how loose or tight it is, but it's a very sturdy hold with a structured shape. It's not so great for tiny items (the aforementioned Rice Krispies that are a favorite for my daughter) that might want to sneak out of the fold-over top, but most food stays put. It's ideal for sandwiches because it fits them so well, a bit better than the snackTAXI. It's a snug but easy fit, so the sandwich is held together by the shape of the bag. No more sliding ham and cheese, or half-opened PB&J.
Best of all from Lunch Skins is their new snack size bag. It's the same size as the plastic Ziploc snack bags—a size we use often for quick trips and little munchies. This bag alone makes a major play in our lives. When you have 2 cheese sticks and a handful of crackers, you don't want to have to use a big bag. Or perhaps two chocolate chip cookies? They don't look so lonely in this small bag. These smaller bags are the perfect complement to their larger size.
Lunch Skins come in two sizes: 6.5" x 6", 6.5" x 3.5"
A couple of final comments:
First, regarding food quality, one thing that I have always hated about plastic bags is the general smoosh factor. You can have a gorgeous sandwich and in a plastic bag it's completely unprotected from its surroundings. The only thing it does is protect the surrounding from the inevitable mess. Both the snackTAXIs and Lunch Skins are slightly thicker and add a bit of armor to the food, without adding bulk or weight. The food is more intact. The cookies are less crumbled. And the sandwich? Well, it's far less demolished and dense, and therefore far tastier.
Second, the question I get the most from other parents and babysitters is how to clean them. It's the same for both: EASY. Reusable is nice as long as it doesn't get disgusting, right? Most of the time, a rinse out at the sink with warm water will be all they need. Every now and then, they need s little scrub to get a spot of melted chocolate off. When it's really bad, like after a fully loaded PB&J has stuck to the edges a bit or chocolate chips have melted from a cookie all over it, I just rinse it once or twice and put it on the top shelf of the dishwasher, opened over the spokes like a glass. Easy breezy. I do it without even thinking about it.”
THIS CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED
Congrats to winner Amy!
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Now, want to win a trio of snackTAXI and Lunch Skins products? Here's how:
*One lucky winner (drawn using Random.org) will receive one snackTAXI sandwich-sack + snack-sack, and one Lunch Skins snack sized sack (set gender neutral patterns; $24 value).