Uses For Plastic Bags

Q. I need some ideas on reusing the plastic shopping bags we get. I’ve heard you can weave a rug from them. I’m writing an article about the problems of plastic bags clogging up storm drains and polluting waterways.  I’d like to have some ideas to suggest for people to reuse their bags. Thanks! – Donna Lee

A. I collect them in a large plastic bag and when it gets full just take it to the local Wal-Mart where they have a recycling bin just for plastic bags. – JF

A. We recycle all of them. Trash can liners, lunch sacks, car trash bags, cat box liners and even overnight luggage! I love you news letters. Thanks, Linda

A. This is for Donna Lee who wanted uses for plastic bags.

1. Double them and take them back to the grocery store and have them reuse the bags. Sometimes they rebate 3, 4 or 5 cents per bag they don’t have to give you.

2. Use them to line trash cans.

3. Take some to the lake, beach or pool for bringing home wet bathing suits, sea shells, etc.

4. Cut bags into 1 1/2 to 2" wide strips going around and around the bag at a slight angle. Cut a slit in one end and pull the next strip through the slit. Use a large, N, P or Q crochet hook and make a round, square or oval rug. You can make them in random colors or save the particular colors that you like. These make nice rugs to stand on in front of the sink or outside the door to catch dirt from outside. It takes a lot of bags to make even a small rug.

A. In grade 3 my son made remembrance day or Christmas wreaths out of white plastic bags. we used clean ones of course. cut into strips (not a pleasant job) and tie onto coathangers that have been bent into a circle. You need lots of strips for a nice fluffy result. this looked nice with the glad plastic bags, but might work well with those other ones we always get. – another idea is to of course REFUSE the bags at the store – take a box with you or cloth bags. common sense. Some stores in your community would love to reuse your clean gently used bags (ie second hand stores, thrift stores, mechanic shops (parts), food banks). I’ve noticed some bags are simply ruined after one trip and they are made with holes in the them. they are useless therefore for garbage as they leak. however, they work well in bedrooms or offices where most of the garbage is dry and the occassional apple core or gum won’t leak through. some grocery stores here have collection bins at the entrance where you can return your used bags for them to recycle. this keeps them out of the landfill somewhat.

A. I give my plastic bags to the food pantry at my mom’s church. They are always in need of bags for the groceries they give away. – Ruth

A. I used all my extras (the ones I didn’t use as trash bags for small trash cans) as stuffing for the new throw pillows that I made from leftover fabric. – Cathy

A. You can cut plastic bags into strips and tie together and crochet hand bags they come out beautiful colors.

A. This is for Donna, who is working on the article about plastic bags. Some of the ways I re-use them include:
1. When traveling, tuck a few bags into the suitcase. Use them to protect shoes, cosmetics, and to keep wet or soiled clothing separate from clean clothing.
2. Crumple plastic bags for packing material when sending a fragile gift item.
3. Crumple plastic bags (or plastic "peanuts") in the bottom of large pots when your potted plants don’t need the depth or soil for their normal root length. The pots are lighter and you need less soil and water.
4. Keep extras in your car. Good for almost any sort of mess disposal.
5. Yes, you can cut the bags into strips and knit or crochet with them. They make great washable tote bags, rugs, mats, etc.
6. Use them to bag kitty litter, garbage, or plant clippings that cannot be composted.
7. Use them to store seasonal floral or Christmas wreaths. Put the wreath in a large plastic bag and hang it from a peg at the back of a closet.
8. Keep a few in the car glove box or in a backpack. Larger bags make good emergency rain gear.
9. If you are painting and need to stop, wrap the brush in a plastic bag. It will not dry out for several hours.
10. Food grade bags (bread wrappers, for instance) can be re-used once as "mitts" when you need to mix hamburger, cookie dough, or other messy items by hand. Turn them inside out so that the part that was touching the original food is on the outside and you don’t get the paint and colors from the outside of the bag onto your food. Food grade bags can also be used for some food items that you freeze, but for short term only (several days). Most of them aren’t thick enough for longer-term freezer use.
11. I’ve used the clear, dry cleaner bags to protect the surface of a wood table underneath a tablecloth. Cut them to size and overlap them. When the special occasion meal is over, just toss the bag. Unnoticed small spills are rendered unconsequential. (Do not leave bags on a quality wood surface for more than a few hours, as the wood finish needs to "breathe.")
12. Plastic bags are good storage for craft items.

A. First of all, don’t use those bags in the stores! I read recently that in Ireland they charge a 15 cent tax on each bag because it was such an issue. Folks can use them for trash bags and such, but the best thing is to reuse them by taking them back to the store. Most of them have recycle bins.

A. If you want to reuse those plastic bags with the handle holes like the ones from grocery stores and discount stores, make a rug. Get about 20 of them, split the side seams and bottom seams open. You get 2 pieces. Make a cut down the center of each piece. Lay these strip pieces out flat. Make a snip hole at the end of each strip, about 1" from the end. Join each piece together into a long piece, using a larkshead knot ( end over end, grab your wrists with your opposite hands ). Using a size ‘Q’ crochet hook, start crocheting. You can make a circle, heart, any shape you want. These are very soft to stand on, hose it off to clean it, shake it to dry, wear like iron. They are also quite ugly to look at. Dry cleaning bags work equally well.- KL

A. One thing that we do with the plastic shopping bags is recycle them to the library. Patrons use the bags then to carry out books. Some grocery stores take them back and send them for recycling. Another caution about plastic bags. Cattle find them irresistible. When they blow cross country, they catch on barbed wire fences. Cattle will ingest them and it can be fatal. If your plastic bags are discarded, make sure they are secured and cannot blow away.

A. When my son was 10 (He’s now 26), he decided to make a parachute for his GI Joe figure. He cut a white square out of my garbage bag, punched some holes around the sides, inserted pieces of yarn, tied the yarn around the Gi Joe figure, threw it up outside and happily watched as GI Joe came back down, again and again.

A. In our neighborhood it is the law that you have to clean up after your dog.  We collect the long plastic bags that the newspapers are delivered in and use those to pick up. You just have to make sure that there aren’t any holes in the bags first!!!  Molly

A. When I make hamburger patties for the freezer, I stack them up in bagel bags or bread bags with plastic margarine dish lids between them.  My husband uses those pesky plastic grocery bags to take his lunch  to work  in. I have recently found an under-the-kitchen-sink sized garbage can "frame" that uses plastic grocery bags for the liner.  I, of course, wash out my zipper bags. My neighbors shake their heads and laugh, but I wonder who’ll have the LAST laugh!  Heidi

A. If your arm or foot is bandaged, slip on the elongated plastic bag to protect the area while taking a shower….picked up this great idea when working with Hospice as a volunteer.  Helene

A. My family uses plastic bags to make pet pillows. We sew together two pieces of fabric about one yard square, then stuff the bag fairly lightly with used plastic shopping bags. When my daughter takes her dog with her when visiting, she takes a pillow along and the dog knows that that is where he should lie.

A. Be it the plastic bags the produce comes in, your groceries come home in, or a quick trip to Wal-Mart, these bags seem to be reproducing! Here’s what I’ll do with them (extras still have to be taken back to the stores that recycle them):
1. If big enough, the plastic bags make good trash can liners (for your smaller bathroom-type anyway)
2. They can be used to stuff your window valances should you need to do any re-decorating soon
3. The bread bags are good to save to use for crushing cracker or cookie crumbs
4. The bread bags can also be used to store your home-baked muffins and breads
5. The bread bags or  produce bags can be cut to size for items and used as baggies (use the bread twist  tie to close it). This won’t work of course with liquid items, but it’s good for snacks or crackers, etc.
6. The bags can be used to wrap the table scraps (or stuff you’re cleaning out of the fridge) you don’t want  to stink up the trash. 

A. The plastic grocery bags can be cut into strips and crochet with a chain stitch in to a "bag" rug instead of rag rug. You cut the bags in strips about 1-1/2 in. wide strips and use large gauge crochet hook and can  join the strips by making a small slit in the end of old and new strip and then take the free strip end and pull it thru the slits from the bottom to the top and pull slightly. Susan

A. For those of you who scuba dive, put bread bags on your feet before you put your wet-suit boots on. Makes the struggle much easier.  Ray

A. I keep bags in a cabinet next to the cat litter box. I can scoop the litter frequently and put it in the bag for the trash. It keeps odor down and it’s quick. Bobbie

A. Small zip lock bags…. any leftover bags that contain buttons when you buy a new sweater/shirt/pants? I save the bags. They’re also great for tucking a few aspirin in and putting in your purse.  Nlsu

A. I use bread bags or the plastic bags out of cereal boxes to put flour in when frying meats.  I add my salt and pepper with the flour and then "shake" the meat to coat it for frying.  This saves washing an extra dish and also is less messy.  Denise

6 thoughts on “Uses For Plastic Bags

  1. vicky says:

    what i do with plastic bags i make mats for the homeless vets, i make clothes pin bags,i make grocery bags,i make rugs,i make baskets.some stores have recycle bins at stores but they do not recycle them my friend works at dump and those end up at dump. do not let them fool you.so i reuse everything i can

  2. Pat says:

    I put a plastic grocery bag on each foot before I put on my snow boots. Something from the 50’s. But I find it makes it much easier to slip them on. Also the layer of plastic keeps a little heat in and if they ever leak I have some protection. I also give my excess bags to the local farmers markets for their customers.

  3. Diane says:

    Small bags (bread) can be used to make putting on and taking off winter boots easier for kids too.

    Instead of crocheting the strips braid them and you have strong plastic rope.

  4. Donna J Lippert says:

    Our church in Saint Joseph Michigan our ladies crochet mats for our area
    Local homeless folks. These mats are colorful and
    Especially when we get donations of discarded plastic tablecovers . It makes colorful 6 foot long mats. Last year over 100 mats were made.

    • Linda says:

      Our St Mary’s Cathedral here in Saginaw Mi is starting a group of women doing exactly what you are doing for the homeless by making mats and pillows from plastic bags. Nice comradely, great for environment, and especially great for those who must sleep outside or abondon buildings in the winter.

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