Once having made the decision to reduce waste and cut single use plastic from your life, the obvious will suddenly dawn on you that “oh my gosh, bread is in a plastic bag!” For me the realisation provoked a state of panic as I imagined myself slaving away in the kitchen baking loaf after loaf to keep up with the family’s demand. How would I have time to do this? Then I remembered that my mum had a bread maker that she didn’t use so I promptly payed her a visit and acquired a bread maker (thanks mum).

Problem solved right? Not quite. Breadmakers require ingredients. Ingredients come in packages at the local supermarket – at least that was the case until I found a store that sold bulk flour.

This bag of bread mix from the supermarket looks plastic free but hidden between the layers of paper is a plastic inner lining.
This bag of bread mix from the supermarket looks plastic free but hidden between the layers of paper is a plastic inner lining.

The problem is, there is nearly always a hidden plastic bag within the packaging. When I first bought a large ‘paper’ bag of bread mix I discovered a plastic bag sandwiched between two layers of paper! I did eventually find an all paper bag of bread mix but then I had to buy the yeast. Yeast, as far as I know is only packaged in foil plastic laminates or other unrecyclable packaging. Oh well can’t win them all. Nevertheless, I made significant reductions in the amount of waste generated from our consumption of bread.

Homemade bread wrapped in a teatowel and stored in the bread tin.
Homemade bread wrapped in a teatowel and stored in the bread tin.

The breadmaker got a three month work out, with each loaf made wrapped in a clean tea towel and placed in the bread tin. Loaves were eaten within a day or two, so I never had to worry about freezing or stale bread. The crust of homemade bread is good at protecting loaves from going stale.

Unfortunately, after the initial excitement of yummy homemade bread, a couple of negatives appeared. The bread was too heavy and couldn’t be cut thinly for sandwiches. I persisted but the kids started coming home hungry with uneaten sandwiches. It was time to find another solution.

Collecting bread in a pillowcase bag
Collecting bread in a pillowcase bag

I decided to buy our bread direct from the baker. Initially I used a pillowcase because that’s all I had and I don’t like buying new things if I don’t have to. I could fit four loaves in each pillowcase. To freeze, I put the pillowcase of bread straight into the freezer but it was a bit awkward to manage so I made individual bread bags. The assistants at all the bakeries I go to love these because they can slice the bread and slide it straight into the cloth bag in exactly the same way as they would with a plastic bag. It is also easier to manage the bread from the freezer to the bread tin at home.

This is my bread stored in cloth bags in the freezer.
This is my bread stored in cloth bags in the freezer.

I’ve read a lot of different advice about the best way to store bread but I haven’t noticed any difference at all between my bread stored at room temperature or frozen in a cloth bag and the store bought plastic wrapped bread. The longest a loaf stays in the freezer at our house is two weeks.

When I first started doing this the bakers were so surprised, telling me they have never had anyone collect their bread in a cloth bag before. Now they are telling me that others are bringing in pillowcases and cloth bags, and I am also getting really positive comments about them from other customers. Go ahead and give it a try. The more of us that do it the more normal it becomes, just like the green bags in the supermarkets. If you need a little more encouragement I filmed myself at the baker, which you can watch below.

 

 

Make your own bread bags

If you are new to sewing (like me) but want to have a go at making your own bread bags, check out how I did it below.

This unused beach towel is being repurposed into bread bags.
This unused beach towel is being repurposed into bread bags.

I had this beach towel – that is actually more like a scarf or shawl – that I had never used. I thought the material and pattern would work well for bread bags.

Make sure your material has been pre-shrunk and cut out rectangles the size of 13 inches by 17 inches. Stitch them together inside out. Don’t forget to hem your open ends if your material doesn’t already have a hem you can use.

3

To give the bag a square bottom, manipulate the bag so that the seam runs vertically down the middle. Fold the ends so that they form a triangle.

Next I fold each side of the triangle back up so that the point meets the bottom of the triangle.

4 5

Mark the fold with pins, stitch across the fold, and then trim the corner off. Repeat on the other side. You will be left with a square bottom once you turn the bag right way out.

6 7

8

Next sew on a scrap piece of material or cord to tie the bag securely. I did not use a drawstring to close the bag because it is not as airtight. Your bag is now complete.

9

12

Advertisements

29 thoughts

  1. So cool to see you doing something as simple as making your own bread bag as an initiative to reduce waste! It’s pretty crazy that those paper bags still has hidden plastic! We’re doing a bread week in terms of reducing food waste behaviours on our blog, and I think it is definitely impactful to be initially conscious of the packaging that your bread comes from!
    x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Angela. It is impactful; as a family of four we go through a lot of bread and I really notice the difference. This change has been one of the easiest! And every time I use them with different staff, they love them. They always say “what a great idea” and I can see them thinking about it.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. What a a really really great idea! We use big cottonbags and buy the loafs uncut, because the bags are too big. But this is really wonderful! I will make my own bags now. Thanks so much for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I was doing the same thing but still getting it cut, however that seemed to make the bakers nervous so I decided to make the bags so they could still do as they always did, now everyone is happy :-).

      Like

    1. I haven’t found this to be a problem. I read all sorts of stuff about storing bread before just deciding to have ago in cloth and it was fine. The crust is a little harder after a while, but still edible in a sandwich. Maybe have a go and if it doesn’t work out use the bread to make crumbs.

      Like

  3. I dont know where your BD staff have been hiding but the store used to give away calico tote and drawstring bags for their bread. I still have three that are coping admiably with the wear.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s great! My store is in Warragul but I have been to others and they are always amazed by my cloth bags. I always get asked if I have considered selling them, but that’s not my thing. I want people to make them themselves from scrap fabric.

      Like

  4. What a great idea. We go thru a loaf a bread a day in our house. I usually by in bulk and freeze them. I will have to make some of those bags. We actually reuse all our bread plastic bags for lunches and for storing and freezing other things in. I know we are trying to get rid of plastic that is why we reuse all of our until they can not be used any more. But I love this idea and will be starting to do this.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think that’s a great way to reuse plastic bread bags. I just had a thought that you could reuse some of those bags to go over the cloth bags in the freezer and get even longer storage life if you needed it. Let me know if you do any experimenting.

      Like

  5. Where I live you can buy fresh yeast in big paper wrapped blocks at the wholesaler. I cut it into cubes and freeze them in a container. Just make sure you defrost a cube in advance! You can’t microwave yeast. The paper goes in the compost. Not ideal, but better than dried yeast and it tastes so much better.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I buy my fresh yeast at the Deli. It’s cut up by the Deli staff into little blocks for around $1 – $1.20 per little block. It’s enough for about 4 loaves. It really does make the bread taste wonderful. I also have dried yeast in the freezer just in case I can’t get to the Deli.

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s