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Tips from our readers on reusing plastic grocery bags. Post your own below.
Even better than reusing them, is to NOT use them in the first place. They take forever to break down in a land fill, so if you can use a cloth bag that you've taken with you, you'll be doing the world a favour (and don't throw those potato peelings away, put them in the compost!)
These work GREAT as a garbage holder for the car. Since we have a large van, we have more than one garbage bag for our children!
My son gets car sick easy so we always carry wal-mart bags under the seat in the car within easy reach for him. They are great for collecting "trash" in the car too.
Store empty grocery sacks, rolled into empty cardboard paper towel rolls. Great for the car. We always keep a couple of rolls in the trunk. Great disposable trash bags.
By Sean C
We use the bags for dirty diapers when we're out and about. Also good if you're over at a friend or relative's house, for keeping smell and mess to a minimum.
I stuff two to three of the plastic bags in old pill bottles. I can just put the pill bottles full of plastic bags in my purse or car, this not only lets me save the plastic bags but I am also reusing pill bottles too.
Plastic grocery bags act as a protective cushion when packing dishes or breakables.
The little plastic grocery bags we get are useful the little ones when teaching them to help clean up a room. They are also good for the little garbage cans in our bathrooms.
I crumple or shred paper, put it in a plastic grocery bag, tie the handles together in a knot and stuff my empty handbags to help them keep their shape while in storage.
As a building contractor, I use the plastic grocery bags as overshoes to prevent dragging mud/dirt into a client's home. Also if I'm in dress shoes and have to make a quick trip out into a muddy garden.
Use plastic bags in your garden if you spot any poison ivy! Double-bag the dominant hand to grasp the plant at ground level (moistening the soil if necessary, to make it looser) and pull the plant out by the roots, bravely. Using the bare (other) hand, pull the bottom plastic bag around the root ball of the offending plant and, while holding it thus protected in the bare hand, ease (reverse) the dominant hand from the remaining bag, thus covering the top of the plant securely without any possibility of either hand being touched by the plant. Tip: Before reusing plastic bags for such serious uses, gather air into their necks and twist tightly to detect any existing slits or holes.
I tie them around my shoes to protect them when I'm out in my garden, especially after it rains and my garden is muddy.
I hang a plastic bag on pants/skirt hangers (the ones with the clips) in the utility room. Then I wad them up and stuff them in the bag hanging from the hanger. When I need one I just grab it out of the "storage" bag. I use them in the wastebaskets in the bathrooms and bedrooms. Also, I have attached two plastic, self-adhesive hooks on the side of my counter, spaced far enough apart to conveniently hold the bag open so I can put all my garbage in while I'm cooking. When it's full, I simply tie the handles together and take it to the big outside garbage can (or get hubby to do it). This saves many steps (kinda like Rachel has her garbage bowl, I have my garbage bag) so I don't have to go back and forth to the utility room where the kitchen garbage can is.
I too use grocery bags to line my trashcans around the house. I didn't realize how much easier it was to just pick them up, tie the top and out they go. Recently, I have been having some problems with my balance and so I have been having to sit down to do my cooking in the kitchen. I take a plastic bag and tie one of the handles around the handle of one of the drawers to throw scraps, etc. in.
As a hint though, I have been told not to keep any plastic bags that anything like meat in them as they might attract bugs. Yuck!!!
Garbage Bowl liner: keep a large bowl on your kitchen counter lined with a plastic grocery bag. As you are preparing a meal, put garbage from preparing the meal in the bag. At the end of preparation, tie the bag up and dispose in the main garbage can.
When cooking, making salads, peeling and preparing vegetables, I lay an open plastic grocery bag in my sink bowl to hold the waste. When I'm finished cleaning, peeling, cutting, etc. I then tie the bag, throw the whole thing in the trash. Makes for very easy clean-up.
By Gena Rae
Just yesterday, I slipped a plastic grocery bag over the dish I used when I peeled potatoes. Afterwards, I simply turned it inside out and all the mess was inside ready to tie and trash! I got lucky and found a plastic "device" that I got the entire purchase price refunded for! All it cost was the stamp! I use it in the bathroom by the toilet where it is small. I sometimes slip several inside each other at a time to store them handily & slip the handles over, it fits perfect because it can squoosh! Sometimes the bags get small tears that I mend with a piece of tape, then fold it down neatly and put in a bag I got for 10 cents and it hangs on the doorknob in the kitchen.
We have an automated litter box with disposable plastic bins which hold waste.
The bins are quite expensive so we stretch the use time a little longer by lining the bins with plastic grocery bags. Each night as we go to empty the litter, we lift out the grocery bag and the waste bin stays clean. Inserting those grocery bags every day helps keep odors out of the plastic waste bin and it last much longer.
I kill two birds with one stone. We have not solved two problems in decades: Dog waste problems in urban areas and grocery bag problems. My pooper scooper has a collapsible frame structure which springs open any grocery bag instantly, and it catches dog feces before it hits the ground. If all dog owners reuse grocery bags for 68 million dogs in the US, they might need more bags. Visit my website at: http://www.doggiepoopcatcher.com for more info.
Since I have 4 cats, scooping the cat pan is an "every time I walk past it" chore. I don't like to just scoop the clumping litter into a garbage pail, but since I have 77 steps down (and back up) to the garbage bins, I've found that scooping the litter into a plastic grocery bag and knotting it keeps it bundled tidily (and odorlessly) in the trash until I go down to the big bins. I line a small trash can with two more of the grocery bags, and after a few scooping sessions, those two can be tied up around the bundles and disposed of neatly and without odor.
Almost all of us have an over-abundance of those plastic grocery sacks. I use them to fill my small wastebaskets throughout my house instead of buying the expensive trash bags. They work great! You can also recycle them in some places, but in our particular town, you can't so you might as well put them to good use!
Place a few of the plastic bags in the bottom of your waste basket BEFORE you use one to line your waste basket. As you have one filled, there will be another one to use!
As a teacher, I take all of mine to school with me to use in a small wastebasket by my desk. Since times are tight, the janitors are very thrifty with the garbage bags. I am just glad to get rid of them. Ask area teachers, they might need them for other uses.
Carry along on picnic for fast and easy clean-up. On the same picnic, carry along a couple of washcloths for clean-up after eating.
By Melody from White City, Oregon
By Mr. Thrifty
I NEVER throw away a plastic grocery bag! I always take them to be recycled, they will never break down in the landfill, and I just can't do that.
Our veggie scraps either go down the garbage disposal or in our compost heap.
In my area, Walmart has a bin just inside their front door for drop-off of these bags, which they then recycle.
By Becki in Logansport, IN
I use my plastic grocery bags to save my old magazines in. When the bag gets full, I just take it to the recycle center and dump the magazines in. If the bag doesn't get torn, I reuse it again!
I hang one on a hook in my pantry. As I accumulate more bags I stuff them into the hanging bag until it is full. I tie the two handles together and immediately toss the full bag into the trunk of my car. Then whenever I happen to go to the Salvation Army resale store, or am just driving by, I drop off however many bags have accumulated in my trunk. They are always out of bags and eagerly accept them! This way I don't ever have to make a special trip to recycle the bags. They are "with" me whenever I remember to donate them!
By Grandma Margie
I load newspapers in them to take to our local veterinarian, who uses the papers to line the animal cages.
Give old plastic grocery bags to your local animal clinic. Ours always appreciates having a bag to put medicines and food in that clients come in to get.
Do you sometimes accumulate too many plastic bags from the supermarket? Donate them to a place where children are being baby sat such as a daycare center. They are great to dispose soiled diapers in.
You might check with your local library. Ours accepts plastic grocery bags for patrons who don't have a book bag with them. I've even used a few of them myself.
I save all of my grocery bags in a large plastic bag until I have it full. Then I take them to the local Mental Health Clinic, so that they can re-use them for the patients medications.
You can fold them accordion style from the side; cut 1-1/2" wide loops; hook the loops together to make a plastic yarn and crochet tote bags, rugs, etc. These last forever and use lots of bags.
By Sue L.
Split the bag from top to bottom mid-between the handles and use as an impromptu smock, putting arms through handles and close with a clip, tape or clothespin, for a messy pre-school project.
I take them and cut them into 1 inch strips, slip knot them together, and crochet a bag out of them. It ends up being 2 ply and lasting a really long time. And most grocery stores; like Winco; will give a discount on your groceries if you bring your own bags; Winco's is 6 cents per bag you use. It may not be much of a saving but it does add up.
I use plastic grocery bags to make kites for little one to fly. They love it and it gets them moving.
Braid strips of them for everything, they never wear out, it seems! Hold up or train plant tendrils, lash a soap bar end or two in a worn nylon knee high near your garden hose, make a new pet collar with the buckle from the old one attached, fasten loops of the braid to a beam or rafter in a shed from which implements and tools can be hung, summer chairs can be strapped. Braids have endless uses and are strong and free. The kids are great at making them, and the color combinations are intriguing! Good rainy day projects.
By Melody from White City, Oregon
Mary, I put a plastic bag in my trash can in the bathroom anyway so why not recycle one that I have gotten somewhere else instead of buying them? (02/08/2007)
I put one over my hand to hold when I am polishing my shoes. iI stick the bagged hand in the shoe to hold it and polish with the other hand. This way, I don't get shoe polish stains on my hands. when I'm done polishing, I just pull the bag inside out as I pull my hand out and toss in the waste can. (02/08/2007)
By Debbie in SC
I use plastic coffee containers, I cut a hole in the top and fill it with my plastic bags. They pull out easy. And this way I am recycling 2 things at once. (02/08/2007)
I highly recommend putting diapers in the plastic bags. I work at a doctors office and I empty the trash bags at night. Whew, to get a poopy or even just a wet diaper not in a bag. That is nasty. (02/08/2007)
Because they vary in size and so do my waste baskets. I put several in the bottom of one then comes time to change them they're ready at hand. I also keep a couple in the car, stopping for my mail and various stores. Small items in 1 bag to bring in the house. (02/08/2007)
Hi, I cut the bags in 1 inch by 3 inch strips and use them to hook a rug instead of yarn. They turn out really pretty and are very useful out on the deck. Totally washable with the hose. (02/08/2007)
Crocheting and crafting with recycled plastic bags is fun and very rewarding. I started about a year ago crocheting using balls of plastic bag "yarn." I have enjoyed developing ideas and showing others how these bags can be put to good use. I decided to start a website where people could learn and share information about crafting with recycled bags.
http://www.myrecycledbags.com/ is an Eco-Friendly product website that is dedicated to recycling and crafting. Stop by and learn more about this wonderful crafting technique.
Sample using white grocery bags to create a cute shoulder bag below.
There really isn't a happy medium when it comes to reusing grocery bags, paper is from trees cut down, if not recently (if recycled) than at some time and plastic fills up landfills. But being responsible about using them again, either of them is the best way to ensure as much recycling as possible. I use plastic bags for kitty litter, poopy diapers and trash bags for trash day collections. I use paper bags to fill up with Goodwill donations, library books and other things.
Additionally, I use boxes from brownie mix, cereal boxes etc. empty on the counter and fill with little slips of paper that can be recycled. A page from my daily calendar, empty sweet n low bags, the paper tab off of tea, the paper tab off the bulk bin label, anything that is paper, goes into the box. Once it's full, it goes into the recycling bin (then you don't have tons of little slips of paper flying everywhere). I recycle the plastic tabs off clothing that holds the price tags, the plastic tabs of breads and such etc. If you are conscious of what you recycle in one week, EVERYTHING YOU CAN RECYCLE, you'd be really amazed at how much you THREW away the week before! AS long as you are aware and active, you are making a difference. (02/09/2007)
I put a number of Bags in the bottom of my paper shredder. Then Pull one up and over the top. Every couple of days just pull the full one out and toss. (02/10/2007)
I donated huge bag of these to a sweet elderly couple that sell their excess garden veggies at a roadside stand. (03/01/2007)
Plastic bags make a great pillow stuffing. I am in the process of designing a line of thrown pillows made from reused plastic bags. (01/16/2008)
They work in an 8 gallon trash can which is my kitchen size. I haven't purchased a GLAD kitchen garbage bag in years! (09/06/2008)
Instead of lunch boxes, my kids take their meals in wall mart bags. Apparently, so do many other kids. I don't have to worry about missing lunchboxes or buying new ones either. (11/05/2008)
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