Teach Your Children Well: Make a Reusable Sandwich Wrap

Here is a back to school math problem: How many sandwich bags does a typical American public school class of 20 students throw out during their school years (KindergartenĖ12th grade)? Letís say the homemade lunch/snack consists of a sandwich, a few cookies, some pretzels or chips and a cut-up piece of fruit. Thatís 4 bags a day times 5 days per week (20 bags) for a school year of 40 weeks (800 bags per child a year). Now multiply that by the amount of years the child is in school (13 years), and youíll get 10,400 bags used per school child. Go on and multiply that by a class of 20 students and each class would throw out 208,000 bags during their schooling. Letís stop here before we storm the lunchrooms.

Even if youíve glazed over the math problem, here are the facts: It has been estimated that the average American school kid also generates 67 pounds of discarded school lunch packaging waste per year. That is more than 18,000 pounds yearly for the average-sized elementary school. While some plastic can be recycled or reused, most sandwich and snack baggies cannot. Not only do these single-use bags add to landfill waste, they create havoc on the eco-systems and hence, the health of wildlife.

Want to bag the single-use bag and show kids how they can help the environment? A DIY sandwich bag alternative is an everyday green and fun lesson to teach kids. Best of all, it reaches them right in their lunchbox (or bag). Let kids discover for themselves how small changes can make huge impacts.

Craft author, Betz White shares her reusable sandwich wrap template with step-by-step instructions from her book, Sewing Green here. The directions and template are fabulous, but she suggests using a material called, PUL. This is a durable, water-repellant polyurethane laminated fabric. It is the type of fabric often used to make diaper covers. I chose to make my sandwich wraps out of cotton fabric scraps, as I would not want the non-renewable, petroleum-based PUL fabric cozying up to my kidís food (or bottom). An alternative may be to line the inside of the PUL fabric with cotton. Another suggestion would be to upcycle a stray wipeable or washable placemat. Any other thoughts on what materials to use that would be safe and green?

For more green lunch ideas check out this Care2 article.

Photo: craftstylish.com

Ronnie Citron-Fink lives in New York with her husband, two children (when they come home to the nest), two dogs and a cat. Ronnie is a teacher and a writer. She has been a contributing writer for Family Fun magazine. She currently writes articles about education and home design. Her writings are in four books including Family Fun Home and Some Delights of the Hudson Valley.†


Sonia Minwer-Barakat Requ
Sonia M4 years ago

Good idea,thanks for sharing

Val M.
Val M4 years ago


Nicole Kapise-Perkins

My youngest is heading to preschool soon; we're going to have to make up a few of these for his lunchbox. (Maybe the older ones will use them too, though they like getting school lunch: they don't have to do any prep work, lol)

Laura Saxon
.4 years ago

Very good.

Shan D.
Shan D5 years ago

The link that sent me here reads "Teach Your Children Well: Make a Reusable Sandwich." >.

iii q.
g d c6 years ago

bamboo tiered baskets?
bulky to tote around though...

Rebecca S.
Rebecca S6 years ago

i must ask about the laundry though that it takes to always be washing these cause i'd assume you'd need to wash them daily in order to prevent mold and contamination

Jennifer C.
Past Member 6 years ago

Thanks for the great info.

iii q.
g d c6 years ago

but how eco-friendly is all the extra laundering?

Melissah Chadwick
Melissah C7 years ago