Reader Question: Food Safe Fabric for Sandwich Bags

Reader QuestionReader Question: Food Safe Fabric for Sandwich Bags

A reader recently wrote in with a great question about finding a food-safe fabric for making snack and sandwich bags. She was specifically looking for a laminated cotton fabric that was eco-friendly. In digging to answer this question, I found a ton of information and a few ideas for the safest ways to make reusable snack bags that are at least semi leak proof.

PSST! I recently ran across a pretty awesome-looking solution to the fabric proble problem! Check out the update to this post right here.

The Trouble with Laminated Cotton

There are two big problems with laminated conventional cotton:

  1. It’s laminated.
  2. It’s conventional cotton.

Laminated Fabric

“Laminated” is a fancy word for “covered in plastic,” and there are  problems with pretty much any plastic touching your food. Even if the lamination is BPA free, you can’t really be sure. The chemicals used to replace BPA in plastics are no picnic either.

Some companies tout PUL or PEVA as food-safe fabrics, but I’m not convinced. If you want to read more about the trouble with PUL and PEVA, Karen wrote a great in-depth piece on them.

The Problem with Cotton

We’ve talked about the trouble with conventional cotton here before, but it definitely bears repeating. From an environmental and human rights standpoint, conventional cotton is shady at best. It requires tons of pesticides to grow, which pollute our waterways and harm workers. It’s often genetically modified, which supports Monsanto, one of the worst companies in the world. It’s just all around bad news.

So, what’s an ethical crafter to do?? Get crafty, of course!

Making Your Own Food Safe Fabric

Doing it yourself means you can choose organic fabric dyed naturally, rather than something full of mystery dyes and plastics. Yay! I came across a couple of ideas for upping the water-resistance of fabrics.

  • Beeswax. Julie showed us how to dip paper in beeswax to preserve it, and you can use a similar method to make your fabric leak resistant. Instead of dunking, just paint the wax on one side instead. The only problem with this method is that it probably wouldn’t hold up well to machine washing. You’d need to wipe your wraps clean instead.
  • Make your own oilcloth. Traditional oilcloth wasn’t covered in plastic. Like the name suggests, back in the day we made oilcloth out of…oil! Kelly has instructions on how to make your own oilcloth right here. I’m pretty sure that homemade oilcloth isn’t machine washable, either. Has anyone tried this out?

The other option you’ve got is to just fully line those sandwich or snack bags with a heavy weight organic cotton or hemp. It won’t be fully leakproof, but with two layers to absorb moisture, it should work well for most snacks and sandwiches.

I’d love to hear from the seamsters out there! Have any of you guys found food safe fabric for sandwich bags that also fits into your crafting ethics?

Written by Becky Striepe

My name is Becky Striepe (rhymes with “sleepy”), and I am a crafts and food writer from Atlanta, Georgia with a passion for making our planet a healthier, happier, and more compassionate place to live. My mission is to make vegan food and crafts accessible to everyone!. If you like my work, you can also find me on Twitter, Facebook, and .

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