How to Make an Eco-Friendly Snack Bag

comments (32) August 12th, 2009     

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JenniferStern Jennifer Stern, contributor
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These reusable snack bags are definitely Cheerio worthy.  Make some of these cute bags and save a Ziplock!
Cut the cotton fabric and the ripstop nylon the same size for each bag, but feel free to customize the size to fit your snack storage needs.
Use a rotary cutter and ruler to make quick work of cutting out the fabric accurately.
These reusable snack bags are definitely Cheerio worthy.  Make some of these cute bags and save a Ziplock!

These reusable snack bags are definitely Cheerio worthy.  Make some of these cute bags and save a Ziplock!

Photo: Jen Stern
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In truth, my sister has been pestering me to come up with a reusable snack bag for a while now.  September is right around the corner, and I decided it was time to whip up some. My little nephews will be able to tote their snacks to school in earth-friendly style. When my girls saw me making these little bags, they put in an order for some as well. Good thing they are so quick to make! Let me show you how.

What You'll Need:

  • 1 - 6 x 12 piece fun cotton print
  • 1 - 6 x 12 piece water resistant ripstop nylon  (Safe to store dry foods in.)
  • 1 - 4 1/2 piece of sew-in Velcro (1/2" wide)
  • All purpose sewing thread to match your fabric

Fold the cotton fabric, right sides together and sew the side seams using a 1/4" seam allowance.

sew side seams

Fold ripstop nylon in half, right sides together, and sew side seams using a 3/8" seam allowance.  If you've ever made a small lined bag, you may have noticed that the lining can be too big to fit inside neatly (even though you cut the lining the exact size as the bag).   Using a slightly larger seam allowance on the lining of the bag allows it to fit into the bag.

sew ripstop nylon

Turn the cotton print to the right side and give it a good press with the iron. Use a point turner to get the bottom corners nice and crisp.

press cotton fabric


Do not press the nylon fabric. It melts easily!  Trim the seam allowance to a generous 1/8".

peg board

Put the cotton bag into the nylon lining, right sides together.  Pin the raw edges together.

print fabric into nylon bag right sides together

Sew around the top edge.  Leave a 3" opening to turn the bag to the right side through.

Sew around the top edge, leaving a hole to turn


Turn bag to the right side.  Finger press the seam allowances of the opening down.  (You can also use an iron on a low heat setting. Just make sure to press the cotton print side.)

turn to right side, press seam allowances down

Cut a piece of 1/2" wide Velcro the width of the bag.  Sew the soft side along one edge and the hook side along the opposite edge.  You will close up the opening in the bag too.

sew on velcro

Sew a short diagonal tack to encase the ends of the velcro, closing the small openings between the ends of the velcro and the side seams of the bag. Now your eco-friendly snack bag Cheerio worthy!

Tack corner edges to join velcro strips

 

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posted in: eco friendly, reusable, velcro, snack bag, cotton print, water resistant nylon

Comments (32)

NWJeni writes: I agree with Brianslady. While "food safe" products most definitely are ideal, many of the comments here have bordered on disrespect towards the author and her project. If "food safety" is your number one priority, then by all means, go that route. But if you are like me and just want some cute little snack bags, and are not totally gung ho about jumping on another bandwagon, then the "go green" hype just annoys. This is a great project whether the FDA (who screws up an awful lot) will label it "food safe" or not.
Posted: 8:31 pm on June 26th
Sewmuch59 writes: Help. I am making these bags and using procare to line them. Which side goes towards the food , the plastic side or the mesh fabric side??
Posted: 4:35 pm on March 27th
Sewmuch59 writes: Help. I am making these bags and using procare to line them. Which side goes towards the food , the plastic side or the mesh fabric side??
Posted: 4:35 pm on March 27th
BenAar0n writes: I'm not sure where you are getting your PUL from that's not foodsafe. Wazoodle's PUL says it is foodsafe. Actually it says "DiaperMaker PUL fabric contain no lead, phlalates or BPA making them ideal for applications that require direct contact with baby skin. They are also food safe, meaning they can be used to make or line snack bags." PUL can be washed and dried on high heat.

You can make these so they fold closed, the way cheap plastic sandwich bags do (as in non-ziploc). Then you don't have to worry about the velcro (or zipper) getting gross.
Posted: 12:29 pm on February 18th
carol1945 writes: HELP!!! I ordered the procare fabric from candleonthehill as mentioned in this article. But I see there are two sides, one is smooth, and one is ribbed. Which side should face the food? Thank you, please email me.
Posted: 6:10 pm on October 31st
ChaeMcCoy writes: Thanks! These were SO easy. I made my first one in about 15 minutes and just cut out several more to do tomorrow. I'm lining them with a bpa free water proof liner, though. I think I might do some with velcro on them as well, if I have some lying about. What a great idea!
Posted: 6:22 pm on October 6th
Bramof6 writes: The bags look great! I'm going to make some! But, instead of falling prey to the PUL/plastic question, I'm going to reuse.........a bread sack! That has to be food grade, and it prevents further harm to the environment, doesn't it? That's what this is all about anyway I think! Thanks!
Posted: 2:14 pm on September 17th
Bramof6 writes:
Posted: 2:12 pm on September 17th
cassidyrhnee writes: I too used "sport" nylon from the fabric store and my sandwiches were crispy. I have some snacktaxi brand bags and my sandwiches are never crispy; they have been used and washed for over a year. The lining looks like nylon and on the site says they use a coated nylon. hmmm....
Posted: 11:14 am on September 8th
brianslady17 writes: I like this design very much and I agree you have to be an educated parent about what you use for your family's food items... that being said, I think all the comments about what is food-safe is loosing sight of the project! What are your other options? Make several and then throw them in the wash when they're crumby or messy-- you're good to go.

Posted: 6:41 pm on July 29th
maxsonmommy writes: Okay I have done TONS of research being amommy of four. I make wet bags with pul and they are not food safe.
I did find PROCARE Barrier. I bought it from candleonthehill.com It is foodsafe.
here is a description

Lining: White ProCare® 25% polyester & 75% vinyl. Does not contain DEHP, Phlalates or BPA plasticizers. It provides a waterproof barrier that can be washed and dried multiple times at high temperatures

So this is what I am using!

Jeni Hope this helps.
Posted: 10:58 am on August 19th
maxsonmommy writes: Okay I have done TONS of research being amommy of four. I make wet bags with pul and they are not food safe.
I did find PROCARE Barrier. I bought it from candleonthehill.com It is foodsafe.
here is a description

Lining: White ProCare® 25% polyester & 75% vinyl. Does not contain DEHP, Phlalates or BPA plasticizers. It provides a waterproof barrier that can be washed and dried multiple times at high temperatures

So this is what I am using!

Jeni Hope this helps.
Posted: 10:58 am on August 19th
hammersmithcm writes: Hey all,

You can't really line these with anything and feel safe about it. The fda approved cans and their lined with BPA. So I wouldn't take their approval into account. Your best bet would be to use an organic cotton, or just wrap your sandwiches in wax or parchment paper. Or if you really want to be eco-friendly and safe at the same time, find some stainless steel snack containers. Like the ones sold at healthykitchenware.com.
Posted: 10:22 am on July 25th
kielni writes: I made some and they're cute. I made two lined with PUL and one with cotton: http://socialvoice.liveworld.com/blog-entry/Kielnis-Blog/Snack-Bags/1100001220
Posted: 5:06 pm on August 28th
mamacache writes: I'm a textile chemist and there's no way I would use ANY water resistant nylon that would contact food. Tetra flourocarbons(yes TEFLON!) and/or silicones are what give the fabric it's water resistance. These will get into your food and there's no way to be absolutely certain what chemicals were used in manufacturing if made overseas and there's a 90% chance of that. I think your best bet would be to use heavy food grade plastic from a freezer bag. These are heavily regulated by our good old FDA and these can even be washed and reused.
Posted: 5:48 am on August 28th
missmaggs writes: why bother... Use a baggie
Posted: 11:29 pm on August 26th
KittyF writes: Glorious hats, this bag is meant for cherrios or other mostly dry snack foods. we keep them in the cupboards all the time without worrying about whether we have left them overnight. We might take a snack cup and use it the same way. I agree I'm not a fan of velcro, but what about a snap open purse closure?

Ripstop nylon fabrics go through the wash all the time without melting. even in the dryer. we use them for windbreaker jackets, all season coats, camping bags, and any number of other uses.

I think I might try this using one of those tough cereal bags in place of the nylon. printed side out, it would be the same thing as keeping the cereal in the manufacturer provided packaging. LOL Kitty
Posted: 10:35 pm on August 26th
ecogeneration writes: PUL is not food safe. Stay away from vinyl (PVC). Vinyl contain lead, pthalate, and dioxin (when incinerated.) I don't know if there's food grade vinyl. There is food grade plastic PETE (zip log bag is made with this)

The safetest food grade material is organic cotton or unbleached cotton. I know. I researched this vigorously because I wanted to make them and sell them for back to school but I failed to make it cost effective to sell. So I make them for personal use with organic cotton.
Posted: 9:04 pm on August 26th
paintchipgirl writes: I recently bought some handmade reusable snack bags on Etsy that were lined with PUL (polyurethane laminated knit - used commonly in cloth diaper making). I'd like to try to make these. Has anyone tried PUL?
Posted: 5:46 pm on August 26th
SimpleGirl writes: I use oilcloth that is used for table cloths to make lunch sacks. You can still wrap your food with waxed paper, at least you can save the bag.
Posted: 4:47 pm on August 26th
gram22015 writes: My daughter made some plastic and fabric large squares with velcrow for sandwich wrappers. You can just wipe them off with a sponge that has been all over the kitchen. I was sort of grossed out. I just don't see how these can be very sanitary. Why not use a plastic container for food that can go in the dishwasher and make little fabric bags for cosmetics, cell phones, flash drives, lunch money, books, homework, school tools, gifts, and cameras.
Posted: 4:40 pm on August 26th
Loriaba writes: This is a great idea. Did you know that hefty sells mini heavy ziplock bags. You could sew this to the bag inside the cloth bag and use the zip for the closure and sew a few stitches at each end just as you did with the velcro. This makes it safer and cuter to carry. Add a strap and take it anywhere.
Posted: 4:26 pm on August 26th
craftypundit writes: i can't speak for the environmentally-friendly aspects of the vinyl fabric, but the plastic bag/bottle industry is heavily energy- and water-intensive. on the whole, reusing something, even if it needs to be cleaned, uses less resources than buying something new each time. for example, it is more environmentally-friendly to use a dish towel (including the washing) than it is to use paper towels, since the production of paper towels uses significantly more water.

we wash out our ziploc bags, but this is cuter!
Posted: 4:16 pm on August 26th
craftypundit writes: i can't speak for the environmentally-friendly aspects of the vinyl fabric, but the plastic bag/bottle industry is heavily energy- and water-intensive. on the whole, reusing something, even if it needs to be cleaned, uses less resources than buying something new each time. for example, it is more environmentally-friendly to use a dish towel (including the washing) than it is to use paper towels, since the production of paper towels uses significantly more water.

we wash out our ziploc bags, but this is cuter!
Posted: 4:10 pm on August 26th
dstoutholcomb writes: shower curtain vinyl, even when washed, is not a food-safe material.
Posted: 3:59 pm on August 26th
Glorious_Hats writes: These do look cute and easy to make.

But..... how much does it cost to keep them at a safe clean level.

How much hot water, soap, etc. How often would washing be needed? Can they be washed in hot without melting the nylon lining? Cleaning for food safe vinal? what products can be used to get rid of the germs?

It seems to me that velcro will hold crumbs and lint and dust and germs.

Most kids will be putting hands into the bag, not pouring out a handful of food.

Will kids or parents be taking out uneaten food each night, cleaning the bag? and where will the left over food go? trashed or contaminated food be poured into a larger box/bag and contaminate that too. Or leaving left over food in the bag to become a germ incubator?

A seemingly neat idea but...... is it safe? really eco-friendly, or just apparently?


Posted: 3:39 pm on August 26th
Boatmom writes: What a great idea for Christmas gifts. I, too, would like to know where to find food safe vinyl for the lining. Our desert environment makes food go stale really fast. I'm wondering if oil cloth would work??
Posted: 2:53 pm on August 26th
SewForYou writes: Would shower curtain vinyl work? Especially if it were washed first?
Posted: 2:29 pm on August 26th
SewYounique writes: I love this idea. Thanks so much for sharing. What is ripstop nylon and where do I find it. Also, where would I find food safe vinyl?

Thanks! I can't wait to make these.


Posted: 6:05 am on August 14th
kielni writes: Thanks, I hate throwing away ziplocs. I think I'm going to try making a waterproof version with some scraps of PUL I have left over from a diaper wet bag.
Posted: 2:28 pm on August 13th
JenniferStern writes: Thanks for the great idea Bonniedoo! I just want to mention that I tested my bag with ripstop nylon by filling it up with Cheerios... They lost their crispiness by the next morning :( I'm going to try again with a food safe vinyl!
Posted: 12:49 pm on August 13th
Bonniedoo writes: love the little snack bag...I make a larger bag for cosmetics using this same method and and cotton fabrics with a heavy fusible interfacing..it makes a neat bag which stands open as I use the contents. Great for the gym.
Posted: 11:38 am on August 13th
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