In the past, when I packed my daughter's lunch I tried my best to use reusable containers as much as possible, but it proved to be a bit of a challenge and not always as environmentally friendly or as convenient as I hoped. The Wrap-N-Mat has given me a longer lasting eco-friendly alternative to Tupperware, sandwich baggies and foil paper.
In my house is difficult to keep track of Tupperware, though I like its sturdiness. One day the tops are all organized next to their matching bottoms. The next day I'm looking everywhere for a top to fit a bottom, but there are none to be found and I am left frantic to find a container to hold individual food items in my daughter's lunch bag and not be late for school. The person at fault will remain nameless, but I'm sure everyone has someone like this at home.
Sandwich baggies, although tedious to wash by hand can be reusable as long as they don't tear or I use the more expensive, better quality baggies. Because the baggies are flexible and easy to use they are convenient, but they don't always hold sandwich contents in the sandwich well. The condiments inside the sandwiches tends to slip or ooze out the sides. In addition a sandwich in a baggy, if not placed at the top of the lunch bag, will be flattened and become too soggy to eat come lunchtime.
Foil paper is recyclable, sturdy, keeps food somewhat insulated and can be placed most places in a lunch bag. Unfortunately it is a bit noisy, is unattractive and has sharp edges for soft little fingers like my daughters. It is also not easy to reuse. The foil paper has to be pressed back out and can sometimes tear in the process.
The Wrap-N-Mat, the eco-alternative I was given the opportunity to try, is incredibly easy to use, soft, lightweight and flexible. It folds around and protects the sandwich insides like foil paper does, but has a much gentler texture for a little kid's fingers. Made out of cloth for the outside and PEVA vinyl (non-chlorinated vinyl) on the inside the Wrap-N-Mat does exactly what its name says. It wraps the food and when ready to be eaten it opens back up into a cute place-mat to eat off of. My daughter loves that it folds out into a place-mat.
Cleaning: The vinyl side of the Wrap-N-Mat is easy to wipe clean. If the cloth side gets dirty a quick hand wash will get it clean in no time. Air-drying it can take a long time to dry compared to Tupperware, but it is recommended. It helps if you have more than one Wrap-N-Mat available to use in the event one is not dry in time. If there are no extras it is possible to machine wash and dry the Wrap-N-Mat on low heat.
Like a plastic sandwich bag, Wrap-N-Mat fits well and easily inside a reusable lunch bag, but because it wraps tightly around the sandwich the condiments inside the sandwich do not fall out to the sides like it does in a plastic sandwich bag where sandwiches are dropped in instead of wrapped. I did have to be careful to place the sandwich at the top of the bag so as not to get flattened by the heavy drink or fruit. I would have liked the Wrap-N- Mat to be a little sturdier, but the flexibility is a good trade off for now.
Like my daughter, my favorite feature of the Wrap-N-Mat, other than its re-usability, is the mat. I really like that my daughter has a place to place her food instead of on her lunch bag (which always makes it really dirty) or on the cafeteria table which is often cleaned with cleaning products that can be harmful to children. Because I know I hand wash the Wrap-N-Mat with eco-soap and because the vinyl on this wrap is PEVA made instead of PVC made I know my daughter is eating on a clean non-toxic surface. That makes me feel good.
If I could change anything about the Wrap-N-Mat I would make it a bit bigger for adults so that there is more place-mat area to eat on. And of course, if possible, find a way to make it sturdier like foil or Tupperware, but without taking away its flexibility so that sandwiches can be placed anywhere in the lunch bag without a problem.
"We strive really hard to establish a great reputation by providing high quality products, by meeting our customers' demands, and by providing great customer service. Our mission is to reduce the amount of wasted plastic baggies while providing customers with a re-usable, high quality product that they can be proud to use," Bonnie Stromme, the Wrap-N-Mat inventor.