Stylish and Eco-Friendly Reusable Lunch Bags

Guest blog post by Heidi Strom Moon

Given the number of plastic sandwich bags discarded every year (20 million), parents who pack lunches for their kids can easily go a little greener by replacing those baggies with reusable lunch bags. With an ever-growing number of options, however, the harder part is choosing which reusable bags to buy.

Now, there’s a locally based option called LunchSkins that was created by three DC-area moms. Made from imported food-safe pastry-bag fabric, which makes them moisture-proof and durable, LunchSkins come in three sizes: snack, sandwich, and sub.

Even better news for brown (or should we say “green”) baggers? A portion of LunchSkin sales are donated to local environmental organizations including the C&O Canal Trust and Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

I recently gave the snack and sandwich bags a test run during a week of my kindergartner’s lunches, using them to pack everything from dry foods (cookies and pretzels) to gooey (peanut butter and jelly sandwiches).

They are easy to clean–either by turning inside out and rinsing, or putting through a dishwasher cycle. LunchSkins kept the foods contained, just like a plastic baggie, and my 6-year-old found them easy to open and close, even with their heavy-duty Velcro closures.

LunchSkins aren’t made for truly wet foods, however, so for anything juicy I’ll stick to our bento boxes. I also plan to get the third size bag, the “sub,” for those days when we pack bigger or taller items.

And unlike some other reusable lunch bags, LunchSkins’ fabric patterns aren’t strictly for kids. Although the sandwich bags come in fun prints like fruit and animals, they’re also available in more stylish abstract swirls. The snack and sub sizes come in decidedly non-juvenile graphic dots and stripes. (Look for other patterns, including florals, to be available soon.)

So I’ll add a couple of bags for myself, too. They’ll add flair and eco-friendliness to my lunch–and this summer’s beach and picnic trips, too.

Disposable Bag Fee Awareness Campaign Launches

As reported by DCist yesterday, the city has finally launched an awareness campaign about the impending disposable bag fee.

Beginning January 1, 2010, District businesses that sell food or alcohol will be required by law to charge you 5 cents for each disposable paper or plastic carryout bag. The Skip the Bag, Save the River campaign from DDOE will give 3 or 4 cents to the new Anacostia River Protection Fund.

According to Alan Heymann, Director of Public Information at DDOE, The Office of Tax and Revenue estimates that the bag fee will generate $3.6 million for the new Anacostia River Clean Up and Protection Fund in the first year.

DDOE will use the money to physically remove trash from the Anacostia and conduct stream restoration activities.

“We will also start a public awareness campaign about litter prevention, beginning in the schools,” says Heymann. “Finally, we will use the funds to continue handing out reusable shopping bags to residents – especially seniors and in low-income communities.”

DDOE is partnering with CVS and Safeway to hand out 122,000 reusable bags in the next few months. “These will be available at public events and distribution points throughout the District, so please watch our public calendar at for more information when it becomes available,” he adds.

The bag fee is the first of its kind in the nation, and will not apply to bags used for newspapers, produce, hardware, frozen foods, plants, bakery items or prescription drugs. Councilmember Tommy Wells (D-Ward Six) introduced the bag legislation, which the DC Council passed unanimously in June.

DDOE has generously offered 10 free reusable bags to readers of GoingGreenDC.net. Simply send an email to sachacohen@comcast.net with your name, phone number, and address. Winners will be chosen at random and notified by December 1, 2009.