Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Reusable Sandwich Bags and Wraps Are Taking Over the World Like Wildfire and Some of Them Are Unsafe...

…what’s worse is your child’s lunch may be wrapped up in one right now. (Keep reading to find out how to WIN in my Reusable Snack Bag Giveaway!) A reusable sandwich bag or wrap is supposed to free you from using thousands of plastic baggies every year. It is a great choice, economically and environmentally, to switch to reusable containers in packing lunches and stop using disposables.
UPDATE: March 20, 2012-Many of you have asked for direct links to products made from polyurethane coated nylon that are used for food purposes. I have a list of sites on another posting on this blog, but to make it easier for you to find it look here: http://4girlsdesignsblog.blogspot.com/search?updated-min=2009-01-01T00:00:00-08:00&updated-max=2010-01-01T00:00:00-08:00&max-results=13 See Monday, September 14
I would also like to add that I am not trying to scare anyone, or make you feel like you have to buy my bags. That has never been my intention. The reason I started this blog was to share the information that I had been able to find on this subject.  I have since added information for you to purchase the same materials yourself and make them yourself. I hope that what I have done has helped others.  I am sure that PUL is a wonderful product but the fact is it has not been approved as a food safe product.  I have nothing against the product being used for other purposes. I have used it to make wheelchair cushion covers and have been very happy with it's properties.
  UPDATE: March 29, 2010- I am still seeing many sellers using unsafe materials. If you choose to purchase the coated rip-stop nylon lining PLEASE be sure the seller has the shiny, coated side away from your food. It saddens me to see someone selling bags made out of just rip stop nylon with the shiny side on the inside of the bag where your family's food will be stored. That is unsafe. Don't use those. Also, just on a structural note: make sure they are sewing at least twice around the edges of the VELCRO closure or it will not last. Look carefully at these safety and functional details prior to purchasing food bags.
Many, many, sandwich bags have been made with PUL fabric which is NOT considered to be food safe by the FDA. Despite the fact that this is noted on the vendor’s websites, and the manufacturer’s web site, people are still out there, on thousands of blogs and forums, telling each other to go ahead and use it and sell it to others. Although PUL is a fascinating fabric, it is not designed for, nor does it meet, the standard of materials that are in contact with food. PUL stands for a cotton or polyester knit fabric that has a laminate layer on one side. It was made for a variety of purposes, like hazard-mat suits, hospital bedding, shoes, and somewhere along the line was embraced by those making their own diapers. Now the latest trend with PUL is to make the reusable sandwich bags/wraps out of it.

This is what the manufacturer says about the product PUL:
Fabuthane® PUL is used in the following applications:
1. Apparel
2. Footwear
3. Inflatables
4. Medical
5. Protective coatings
6. Transportation

This is what two of the leading vendors of PUL say:

  • Celtic Cloth: “No, PUL has not been approved as food safe.”

  • Neptune Fabrics: Is PUL fabric food-safe? Can it be used to make reusable sandwich bags? Unfortunately, the polyurethane laminate on our PUL fabric is not USDA-or FDA-approved for direct food contact. They suggest if the user wants to use PUL in the sandwich bag, they need to have a separate fabric layer between the PUL and the sandwich (food). (Crafter’s if you are making your bags out of PUL please follow this suggestion, for the safety of yourself and those you are selling to.)

  • Another maker of PUL food sacks argues that she has done her homework, still insisting that it is safe and she lists THIS outdoor dog gear shop to “prove” PUL is safe. However, I searched the entire site and found only references to polyurethane coated nylon material being used. The PUL user goes on further, telling the purchaser to “use lemon juice and lots of sunlight to get the mildew out” of the PUL liner. I include this only to say to sellers, be sure of what you are selling. And to buyers, be sure of what you are buying. The product was not made for this purpose and this is one of the way’s it is showing that.

    We have to label PUL fabric as UNSAFE for reusable sandwich bags and wraps.

    There are some other UNSAFE practices going on out there: using old vinyl shower curtains, using vinyl tablecloths, modern version of “oil cloth”

    More Choices:
    SAFE: Home made oil cloth, or beeswax cloth, are useful for this purpose. Modern “oil cloth” is really just a nasty vinyl product. You can find instructions online for the oil cloth as well as the beeswax. I am partial toward the beeswax cloth for all the healthy things associated with it, and I love the smell of beeswax!

    SAFE: Plain cotton material is available. Here, know where your fabric is coming from and what hazards to look for. There have been many issues of late with foreign made fabric being printed with high levels of metal. Buy only the best fabrics, from reputable shops. Some prefer only the organic cotton, inside and out. That is considered safe, however, you lose the waterproof capabilities of other materials. That means your sandwich may leak onto what is around the bag, or your bread may get dried out. It is a safe choice however.

    SAFE: Polyurethane coated nylon is water, stain-, mildew-, abrasion- and rot- resistant.
    We know that to be internationally marketed these products had to be carefully tested and we see they are both using the polyurethane coated nylon material. This material meets the demands of the consumer: water-, stain-, mildew-, abrasion-. rot-resistant, free of heavy metals and phthalates, PBBs, and PBDEs. It is also widely available to crafters .

    • Snack Taxis (formerly Happy Sacks) recently featured on Oprah: SnackTAXIs are lined with a waterproof material that consists of nylon with a polyurethane coating. After talking to many manufacturers of this product, we understand that this type of coated nylon is free of heavy metals and phthalates. The tests revealed that the nylon is free of heavy metals (including lead), phthalates, PBBs, and PBDEs.
    • WallabyBags They're laminated on the inside with polyurethane, which is food safe and widely used in the food industry from food manufacturing and packaging to food storage. They are water proof, so they're perfect for keeping your sandwich fresh, as well as packing messier take-alongs like fruit….they are machine washable and dry-able.
    • GO GREEN POUCHES : The sandwich size pouch will neatly fit your large sandwich, bagel or wrap. Dimensions 7.5"W x 6.0"H Material 100% cotton, lining 100% nylon.
    I am not a scientist. All I can do is gather as much information as possible and make a reasonable conclusion based on the facts I find. Based on my preliminary study, and now confirmed with these results, I have chosen polyurethane coated nylon (with the coated side as the underside, so the coating is not touching the food) and cotton. I chose cotton because of all the beautiful fabric choices available. I already had the nylon for other projects and love it’s durability and it’s use for holding food and water. It has been tested, and it is an FDA approved material. You can purchase several different styles of bags and wraps from me. I also sell cotton napkins to go with them. I have a fold-over design that is based on the style of sandwich bags I grew up with, and it is VELCRO free. It is also quiet! So if you have little ones that still need a snack in church, or a quiet meeting, get this one. I also sell the bags with VELCRO across the top opening. If you need a special size, send me a message. I can do a limited amount of custom work. I am very excited about my newest product a Wrap ‘n Tray : you wrap your sandwich in and when you sit down to eat it, just open up the sides and it forms a tray, with sides! I even have special Happy Birthday bags

    Please visit my etsy store (
    www.4girlsdesigns.etsy.com) and see the variety available.

    Let’s educate our children on the most eco-friendly ways and invite them to be a part of it. They can pick the style, fabric, shape, etc. with my store items. I also get them to you much faster! You can get a multi-item discount, as well as low combined shipping. I seek to supply you with the best materials for a safe lunch, and also the best fabric for a fun lunch, and faster service for your immediate lunch needs. I offer 100% cotton, inside and out, if you prefer that. I am a Mom and have the exciting privilege of raising my kids, and the blessing of time they give me to sew!

    Please check out this site: Environmental Working Group for some great kid-friendly menu suggestions and eco friendly lunch-packing tips.

    Friday, April 24, 2009

    Eco Friendly Light and Durable Reusable Produce Bags Made With No-See-Um Netting

    Using these is a great way to be eco friendly. Go green with these bags made of super strong fine mesh polyester with stabilizing cross weave called No-See-Um Netting. Approximately 3,700+ holes per square inch.It is stronger than those plastic bags at the grocery store and you can reuse them to help save the environment. Ties with a secured drawstring cord. All seams are triple stitched for strength. The bags are very lightweight so as to not add additional weight. They weigh less than half an ounce.This fine mesh is easy to see through so produce can be scanned at the grocery store without removing it from the bag.(zoom in photo of label and you can see how easy it is to see through it!) It will also not harm even the tenderest produce. You can take your filled bags home, wash the produce right in the bag, wash them in the bag, and put them into the refrigerator, still in the bag! The bags are machine washable cold, hang dry. This material is much stronger than a layer or two of tulle or regular netting that simply will not hold up to the test of time and weight. Buy these with confidence that you are getting the best (see through, lightweight, durable) you can and you are helping the environment. My Reusable Produce Bags are made from the highest quality mosquito netting which provides a chemical-free way of carrying and protecting your fruit, vegetables and other bulk food items. I ALWAYS use no-see-um mosquito netting for these bags, never weaker fabrics such as crinoline, stiff nylon tulle or other netting. If you want a bag that will last, and not harm your food, this is it!

    Why use my No-See-Um fabric for Reusable Produce Bags?
    · Lightweight (to not tip the scale like heavier materials)
    · Virtually see-through (no bruised produce because they had to be removed from the bag to get scanned)
    · You can fill, purchase, wash and store your produce in the same bag! No need to remove food for check out!
    · This material keeps out the tiniest pests (no-see-ums) and bigger ones.
    · Chemical-free way to protect your food from pests
    · Never have to use those plastic grocery store bags again
    · Very Fine Mesh that won’t harm your tender produce
    · Fold up very small so they are easy to carry with you
    · Nice drawstring to close the top
    · Handmade in USA
    The other netting bags on the market look like they would break, or make mesh-marks on the produce. The organic cotton bags look very “green”, and who doesn’t want that, but you have to remove the food from them at so many stages of the process from selecting to storing --and the cotton will tip the scales more than the no-see-um netting will. Please visit
    my etsy store for these any many other Green Living products.

    ETSY DAY 2009!

    The Etsy Forums have united and declared Friday, April 24th, 2009, Etsy Day! Hurrah! We here at Etsy love you for working together to create a really exciting opportunity for us all. We will be reporting the guerilla marketing on Friday and we challenge YOU, buyer, seller or fan, to shout "Etsy!" from the rooftops. Get the Etsy name out there in the brightest, sparkly-est, boldest way you can think of! Make sure to record your efforts with video or photos (if you upload photos to flickr, making sure to tag them "Etsy Day 2009"). We'll be highlighting the funniest, weirdest, most attention grabbing efforts here on Etsy's Blog and on our social networks (like our Facebook page and Twitter), and we'll make sure to link back to you.
    To learn more about Etsy Day, check out
    the latest forum post by Shugirl here.
    Here are some ideas from the Etsy Admin:
    If you get people to sign up for Etsy on Friday make sure they mention your Etsy username in the Referrer Username box at sign up! If we see a user who really rocks this, we'll automatically include you in our Etsy Day follow up post. So if you print out flyers, get on the news, or get Ashton Kutcher to tweet about Etsy, make sure you get your username in there, too!
    Tweet your endeavors via
    Twitter and make sure to add the hash tag #EtsyDay. (And send it to @aplusk. Let's get Ashton Kutcher's attention on Etsy Day. Ha! Mr. Most Twitter Followers.)
    Support a new seller on Etsy Day! Buy an item from someone with no sales (you can find them on
    Pounce Undiscovered), and wish them a "Happy Etsy Day" in the Message to Seller field when you check out.
    Print out
    schugirl's Etsy sign to stick in your car window or download and print out the design Anda made for Etsy Day!
    Get an Etsy tattoo!
    Dress your family in all orange. When you get weird looks, whisper "Etsy".
    One final clarification..."Etsy" is pronounced like "Betsy" with no B.
    Ok, we're getting silly now. Let's hear your own Etsy Day guerilla marketing ideas! Post them in the comments below. And don't forget to post photos of your wildest Etsy Day promotions to Flickr and tag them "Etsy Day 2009"!