I'm assuming you know about the oceanic garbage patches. (I cannot type "oceanic" without thinking "815"...) If not, it's an easy google, but beware, it's depressing. The BBC has a really amazing interactive graphic that shows you how big the Great Pacific Garbage patch is in relationship to where you live. It's horrible, really. Plastic bags are insidious, hegemonic demons.
Photo swiped from Raubi Marie
I'm kind of being hyperbolic. Kind of.
The thing is, even if you eliminate the plastic bags at the grocery store for hauling your food, there are still the bags you put the produce in, the little baggies in lunches, the plastic liners in processed foods like cereal, etc. They are everywhere.
I've been reusing the produce bags from the grocery store & fruit stands for kids' sandwiches and lunch items. I've also been reusing bread bags for this. But they get dirty & nasty, and there's still no choice but to pitch them eventually. So I'm trying to eliminate them one by one.
My first step is to eliminate the need for sandwich/snack bags. I know you can buy plastic (it's eve.ry.where.) containers for sandwiches and such, but we often don't use the standard square bread, and I don't want to spend a ton of money. Plus, I have this dream of eliminating petroleum-based products entirely...not sure we'll ever get there (especially when I think about toys) but it's something to aim for.
I decided to dust off the old sewing machine and make my own reusable sandwich bags. My mom gave me a yard of fabric to play with, and I had to fiddle with sizes and linings.
The first attempt:
The sewing is kind of a mess, the bag a was a bit too small, and the liner (a repurposed tablecloth from Girl 1's birthday) is tooflimsy, but still, I was excited. The shape and function seemed workable.
So I made a bigger bag, lined with a thick plastic shopping bag:
Terrible picture, but basically while the liner works great, the bag is much too big. You could fit two sandwiches on Dave's Killer Bread in the thing. Which is fine, but kind of unwieldy.
So I reduced the size a little, and decided to try repurposing a Dorito's bag for the liner:
Success! This bag looks good, has a satisfying and sturdy feel, makes a neat-o crinkly noise, and is made by reusing materials that can't be recycled. I was able to make two identical bags. The kids all had hot lunch at school today, but they will be testing these next time they bring their own lunch.
I am so exited by the idea that I can make these, I'm inspired to make a bunch more. I went to the thrift shop to look at clothes and bedding that could be transformed into replacements for plastic bags. I spent very little money and came home with some really cool fabrics. I forgot how much I love the thrift store.
I'm pretty dang excited.