My kids' elementary school started a zero-plastic bag initiative a couple of years ago. Parents are encouraged to pack their children's lunches in reusable containers instead of ziploc bags to reduce waste, and each class tallies the number of plastic bags they've used in a week. I think this is pretty commendable. It gives children a sense of responsibility and teaches them eco-stewardship early on. It's also freaking inconvenient for me.

I'm a lazy eco-conscious person. I realize I need to green up my act, but I like easy solutions. I have no choice with the reusable container thing -- The Pea really keeps me honest. She won't put the sandwich in her lunchbag if it's in a ziploc bag. I'll admit I usually cheat with Alfie's lunch: his sandwich gets put into a ziploc bag. I hate hand-washing those plastic containers, and I'm not looking forward to washing containers for 3 kids. So I need a better solution, and I think I've found it with fabric sandwich containers like ReUsies.

The Basics
ReUsies are cloth (100% cotton) sandwich bags lined with leak-resistant nylon and secured with velcro closures. They come in two sizes -- snack size, for smaller sandwiches and snacks, and sandwich size, for larger sandwiches -- and a variety of prints and colors. ReUsies are hand-washable, machine-washable and dishwasher-safe.

The Bongga
These things are great! First of all, my kids love the cute designs -- it's another way they can put their personal stamp and stand out in a sea of generic lunches. Second, they fit all kinds of food. The snack size bag is just the perfect size for a PBJ or grilled cheese sandwich, and there's an extra strip of velcro to adjust the closure, in case you want to pack some raisins or crackers and don't want the stuff spilling out. The sandwich size bag is great for thicker sandwiches or wraps. Third, they protect the food that's in them. I sent the sandwich-size ReUsie bag on a test run with Alfie, and the sandwiches stayed nice and fresh.

But most important of all, they pass my Lazy Test. They are so easy to clean! After Alfie brought his ReUsie home, I turned it inside out, made sure the velcro tabs were pressed together, and threw it into the wash. I washed it on cold and it came out fine! The next time he used them, I washed them in the kitchen sink and let them dry on the dishrack, which worked just as well. They're just like cloth dishtowels and cloth wipes and cloth napkins -- if you have enough of them and wash them regularly, you'll never miss the disposable kind.

The Blah
Many eco-friendly products also help you save money... not this one. At $6.75 and $8.75 retail for the snack size and sandwich size, respectively, you're going to have to use each one around 250 times to compare cost-effectively with plastic sandwich bags ($2.50 - $3.50 for 100 bags). If it lasts that long, that is (If I'm still around in 2011 I'll let you know). If the edge of the flap gets caught on the velcro tabs, the stitching will tear and fray -- so make sure you attach the velcro tabs securely to each other before throwing them in the wash.

The Botttom Line
Yes, ReUsies cost a lot. But it's not all about money. It's about reducing waste and minimizing our impact on the environment and leaving the earth as clean as we found it so our great grandchildren can enjoy it too -- with minimal effort on our part. Isn't that worth the extra money? Which reminds me, I'd better go out and buy more before school starts!

I received a product sample for this post, but no monetary compensation. The views and opinions expressed here are my own.

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