Reusable LunchSkins offer green alternative

Danielle Kiefer

LunchSkin bags, which are diswasher safe, help students live sustainably.

By Danielle Kiefer, Circulation Manager

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Brown paper bags, napkins, tin foil and plastic baggies are just some of the trash thrown away by students every day at lunch. Each person creates 67 pounds of waste by the end of the school year, according to the Research Triangle Institute.

To help eliminate plastic waste, Potomac residents Kirsten Quigley and Cristina Bourelly co-founded Lunchskins: reusable lunch bags that can be used instead of a plastic sandwich bag.

After learning that every day, over 20 million plastic sandwich bags from school lunches go into U.S. landfills, Quigley, Bourelly and creative director Jennie Stoller Barakay, known as the “Three Green Moms,” came up with the idea to create a reusable lunch bag. Lunchskins are not just a fun alternative to the plastic baggie, they also provide families with an easy way to cut costs and help the environment.

“Giving kids a safe, fun and easy alternative to single use plastic baggies has been really rewarding,” Bourelly said. “We want our kids to enjoy nature and the outdoors for decades to come.”

According to the LunchSkins website, the goal is to keep 500 million plastic bags out of waterways and landfills by 2015.

To get started, the team  found a food and dishwasher safe fabric for the bags and then came up with modern designs and patterns.

“At the beginning, we traveled to five states in one day looking at factories and warehouses and still came home that night without a good fit,” Bourelly said.

According to sophomore Conor  Quigley and  freshman Ally Bourelly, Quigly and Bourelly’s children, they both bring Lunchskins to school as well as a lunchbox and a reusable water bottle.

LunchSkins are available in three different sizes: snack, sandwich or sub. They all come in an assortment of colorful patterns, and can have other uses too, such as holding dog treats, small toys or cosmetics.

Since the creation of LunchSkins in 2008, the company has grown from only being available in select stores to being a widely-available product in stores such as Target and Whole Foods.

According to an April 2011 Bethesda Patch article, LunchSkins are also popular internationally and are even available in the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

“We’d hoped the idea would catch on, but we didn’t really realize that so many people would become fans,” Bourelly said.

Besides using LunchSkins instead of plastic baggies, students can stop using brown paper bags and instead use a lunch box or reusable bag, and can switch from disposable water bottles to aluminum or stainless steel.

“It is just as easy to put your food in reusable containers as it is to reach for a plastic baggie,” Bourelly said. “Before grabbing that baggie, be mindful that it will be in a landfill 1,000 years from now.”

LunchSkins offer a way to save money, help the environment by reducing landfill waste and give food a fresher taste than in plastic bags.

“We think being green and living sustainably is here to stay and we are happy that so many consumers believe the same thing,” Bourelly said.