Every year, the average person uses about a pound worth of disposable sandwich bags for packed lunches and snacks on the go, which works out at about 540 bags. These bags take up to 1000 years to biodegrade in landfill, and cause even more problems when they reach the ocean.
How Do Plastic Bags Cause Harm?
When plastic bags end up in the ocean (especially clear ones which are hard to see and can resemble jellyfish, a main food source for sea turtles).
Once in the ocean, they're often eaten by sea creatures and birds, causing suffocation by trapping them, or starvation by taking up room in their stomachs.
Apart from the effect on marine animals, so called "trash islands", which bags can become a part of, also contribute to the growing problem of toxins and microplastics leeching into the water and also disrupt food webs by preventing light and oxygen from reaching plankton and algae.
How You Can Reduce Your Impact
You can reduce your plastic bag waste by simply reusing your plastic baggies,but they will eventually wear out and need throwing away.
Like other film based plastic items, can be recycled, but they need to be sent to a special plant. Grocery stores often have a drop off point, but it is not as easy as simply throwing them in your recycling bin.
As well as it being difficult to recycle them, it’s a fact that only 9% of the plastic ever made since 1950 has been recycled.
While recycling is a good thing, it isn’t the answer to the plastic waste crisis. A far more sustainable option is to cut out single use plastic altogether and opt for a reusable sandwich and snack bag instead.
As well as being better for the planet (and often for you), these are enjoyable to use and the wide range of options out there means you can find something to suit your style and budget perfectly.
Below are the top ten options for reusable snack bags from sustainable businesses, from silicon to beeswax.
8 Reusable Snack Bags For a More Eco-Friendly Lunch
Each of these snack bag alternatives is a great option for a zero-waste, eco-friendly packed snack.
From colorful, reusable silicone to fabric, there are choices for everyone no matter what your taste is. Whether you're looking for a reusable ziploc bag alternative, or any other kind of reusable snack bag, you'll find it here.
Founder Kat Naori invented these silicon snack bags after realizing how much plastic waste her everyday lifestyle caused. The result is the stylish, practical and durable Stasher food containers, which come in a huge variety of colors and a range of sizes.
Stasher’s products have already prevented over 1 billion plastic bags from entering oceans and landfills. Made from platinum silicon which doesn’t degrade over time, Stashers are long-lasting and highly practical. They can be used in the freezer, in the microwave, and are fully machine washable, making them versatile and convenient additions to any kitchen.
They are free of any nasty ingredients such as BPA, BPS, lead, latex, and phthalates and have passed every standard of Food safety - including strict EU regulations - from base materials to colorants.
Stasher are also a member of 1% For the Planet, which means that 1% of their profits a year is donated directly to environmental organizations. They also run initiatives like the 30 day plastic free challenge, beach cleanups and offer advice on how to start your own local environmental initiatives, to encourage customers to work towards sustainable living.
Rezip’s leakproof, reusable food storage products are made by Blue Avocado, a company on a mission to reduce waste by offering reusable, sustainable alternatives to everyday items, like disposable sandwich and snack bags.
Each Rezip bag saves the use of up to 300 disposable sandwich bags.
The material used is FDA grade, BPA and lead free PEVA plastic, which is not only fully washable but suitable for freezing. These bags can’t be used in the microwave or for cooking purposes, so these are a great option if you’re just looking for a way to carry or store your food. They are leak-proof and airtight, and fantastic for keeping food fresh in the fridge as well as for packed lunches.
They also use recycled materials to create their products. Since 2009, they have worked with Repreve to transform over 3 million plastic bottles into Rezip bags. Each product has an impact label detailing how many bottles were upcycled to make that product, and how many bottles it has prevented going into landfill - a nice touch to remind you why you’re making these switches.
Rezip are also good for their local community, creating job opportunities and offering work experience. They are always looking to increase the amount of recycled materials they use and improve the social and environmental responsibility of their partners. Their manufacture also reaches the highest standards of social and environmental sustainability, transparency and legal accountability.
Rezip also offer a takeaback program which they run through a partnership with Terracycle. If you mail back your Rezip bags at the end of their useful life, then they will be recycled and you will receive a 30% discount off your next Rezip order.
Born out of founder Kirsten Quigley’s desire for a stylish and sustainable alternative to disposable plastic bags, the result is the easy to use and fun to look at Lunchskins.
Lunchskins have replaced 2.8 billion plastic bags over the past 12 years, and Quigley’s background in environmental science helped her to produce the worlds first dishwasher safe reusable fabric bag.
Just one reusable Lunchskin sandwich bag replaces up to 750 disposable bags. You can choose from a range of pretty designs, and there are both velcro and zipper closure options. Each reusable bag is dishwasher safe, lightweight and fast drying for maximum convenience. The website also offers handy tips on other ways you can reduce the plastic in your lifestyle.
Proceeds from each purchase go to the Oceanic Preservation Fund, which promotes marine conservation.
A unique aspect of Lunchskins is their Repurpose program, which diverts used materials away from landfill and into schools where teachers can teach pupils about reusing and upcycling. The program also creates jobs for people who work at the scrap centers sorting returned materials. If you send your used bags back for use in the repurpose program, you’ll receive 35% off your next order!
Founded by entrepreneur Rebecca Finell, Ziptop is on a mission "to be better for you and to be better for the planet".
The special feature of ZipTop products is that they aren’t just bags; when unzipped, they stand up and operate as normal containers. This is great for picnics and for packed lunches as the container doubles up as a dish. Made from platinum silicon (the highest grade available) Ziptop products are also microwave, dishwasher and freezer safe.
On offer is a set of bags in varied sizes, as well as a dish- shaped set, cup-shaped set or all three for a fully equipped ZipTop kitchen. They also offer fast shipping and quick, easy returns if you change your mind.
These are also recyclable at specific places which recycle silicone, and the company are working on a take back program which should be operational in the not-too-distant-future.
5. Keep Leaf
Coming from a background in fashion design, founder Jaswinder Salh worked at big name brands like Calvin Klein and American Eagle before setting up Keep Leaf. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that these reusable bags have some gorgeous design options and a great feel to them as well as being a sustainable option.
Available in large amd medium sizes, Keep Leaf’s reusable bags have a 100% organic cotton canvas exterior, a waterproof lining, and an easy to use velcro closure perfect for kids’ lunches. Every bag is also machine washable and dishwasher safe. Also on offer are reusable food wraps made of the same materials, but can be completely unfolded to double up as a mat. Perfect for picnics or for school lunches.
Keep Leaf’s products are made in a family run, responsible facility, and the company supports long term employment, education and training opportunities for employees, making them socially as well as environmentally sustainable.
Fluf’s products are "Built to last. Built to look fabulous. Built with an unshakable commitment to planet friendly production."
Fluf describe their products as "effortless, durable and machine washable" - a practical, easy alternative to disposable, single use plastics.
Uniquely, Fluf’s products are tested by kids, providing an unusually robust insight into their durability.
You can choose between the zip snack packs, flip snack packs or snack mats (or mix and match with one of each). The zip snack bags close with a zip, and the flip a fold-over velcro closure which can be easier for smaller children to undo.
Each snack bag also has a cute label on the bag so each one can be named. The snack mat features a zip going round three of four sides, so that it can be unfolded to create a lunch mat as well as acting as a container.
Each machine washable bag is made from 100% organic cotton; organic culture protects the environment from toxins and also significantly reduces the water usage needed to grow the cotton. All materials used are also independently tested to be free of BPA, formaldehyde, and phthalates.
This is also the brand to choose to support gender equality. As well as being an environmentally sustainable company Fluf donate to women’s and girls’ charities Plan International and Because I am a Girl, which support women to stay in education and escape unsafe marriages globally as well as campaigning for gender equality.
Beebagz Bags are made from cotton, beeswax, jojoba oil, and resin and are totally biodegradable.
They are entirely plastic free and what’s more they are antibacterial, making them just as hygienic as traditional plastic options.
Beebagz combine the eco-friendly credentials of beeswax wraps with the convenience of bags. Rather than having to wrap your food in a fiddly flat sheet, simply pop it in the beeswax bag and then use the warmth of your hands to fold down the top and seal freshness in just as you would with a wrap.
As well as being very pretty and very practical, these bags are also proven to keep their contents fresher for longer due to the uniquely breathable environment they crete.
Beebagz also have an ecofundraising program, which helps schools run fundraising initiatives that are easy and eco friendly. Schools and pupils sell BeeBagz, and 40% of the profits are donated to charity. As well as selling a sustainable product, funds are raised for good causes.
At the end of their life BeeBagz can simply be added to your compost.
8. Tabitha Eve
With their tongue in cheek hashtag #bethemosquito, Tabitha Eve remind us that everyone makes a difference by living by the quote "If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping in a room with a mosquito!"
They offer an impressive range of sustainable homewear, from reusable unpaper towlesr, to hemp breast pads, all as stylish and practical as any high-end brand.
Their vegan leather sandwich bags are no different, and make for a sleek and stylish alternative to the disposable snack bag.
Vegan leather is constructed from handmade, washable paper, which has the same soft and flexible feel of leather without the high environmental and ethical price tag. Made from wood pulp (forestry stewardship certified), cotton and synthetic latex (which is stabler and less polluting than natural latex during manufacture), vegan leather is highly durable. These bags can be washed with your laundry, and become pleasantly softer with use,just like real leather.
If the leather look isn’t your thing, Tabitha Eve also offer reusable, breathable cotton snack bags with a tie closure and waterproof lining in fun patterned designs, ideal for use in lunchboxes.
A unique aspect of Tabitha Eve is their ‘imperfect’ range, where customers can browse products that are perfectly usable but not perfectly pretty - a great way to reduce waste.