Reusing plastic grocery bags is a great way to help the environment and reduce trash in the landfills. There are many ways you can reuse these bags that can help save you money. This is a guide about uses for plastic grocery bags.
This short video teaches you how to make a creative dog leash out of old plastic grocery bags.
I'm posting this information as a plea for our environment. Please check out the video and you will see how our using plastic shopping bags is hurting our world, our wildlife, and poisoning our environment.
I have great doubt our plastic bags are even recycled when we put them in those bins -- it costs sooo much to recycle plastic bags compared to the cost of making them outright. I wish someone would take on the task of following a plastic shopping bag from being put into a recycle bin to actually being recycled.
I personally use small mesh bags I purchased at the Dollar Tree years ago (no longer available anywhere - can't find 'em on-line). They are sturdy, can be washed, and I carry 8-10 in my purse (very portable). One bag will hold 10 cans of green beans when shopping! Please think on this!
Read and rate the best solutions below by giving them a "thumbs up".
Our family has recycled grocery plastic bags as trash bags for years. We use small plastic trash container about 12 inch diameter and 14 inches high. We have one in each bathroom, kitchen and laundry room. We simply insert the plastic grocery bag in. Once the trash is full, we just remove the bags to the large garbage can outside the house.
This way you empty the trash more frequent, keep the house more sanitary and odorless. For the last twenty years, we have never bought the commercial garbage bags. Of course you can also find other uses for the bags.
By Peng from Seattle, WA
My dad's new wife just showed me how to re-use plastic grocery store bags. She folds them into four length wise then cuts the bottom off. Working your way up, you cut about one inch strips until you get to the handles (the bottom and handles are waste). Continue this with many bags and then you will tie the strips together by putting one strip into the other and grabbing and pulling the top through that loop.
Once you make a long strip, you use a G or bigger crochet hook and chain as many as you want together and crochet as you would with yarn. You can add beads... whatever you want for some snazz!
By Charlene from NJ
Recycling is very important to me, sometimes to the dismay of my husband, who complains about clutter. The plastic grocery bags accumulate, even though I mostly use cloth bags. The plastic ones still find their way into my home.
To keep them organized I simply stuff them into empty tissue boxes. If one gets full, another one will neatly stack on top of it. It's very easy to pull one out of the slot intended for dispensing tissues, and I conveniently get one at a time.
I toss a full box into the car so I am armed with plenty of bags when I go to the farm stand or grocery store. Some stores even give a bit of credit off your bill per bag reused.
*TIP* Be careful your tissue box doesn't accidentally get scanned or you'll end up paying for a box of tissues you didn't purchase! Use a separate box for other, larger bags, like those from Sears, Penney, Walmart, etc. They can be reused too!
By Grayce from Fort Pierce, FL
When we were kids and wanted to play outside in the rain or snow, we didn't have boots. My mother would put plastic bags over our socks then put our shoes on then cover the plastic bags up with our pants. My mom used bread bags but I used recycled plastic grocery bags for my kids. These days I still cover my socks with plastic bags before I go out into the snow. It's one more useful thing you can do with those plastic bags that are just waiting to be reused!
Now that there are only two of us in our household, we have downsized our kitchen garbage container for the kitchen. We have a medium-size plastic bucket that fits perfect under the kitchen sink; out of sight and out of way.
We utilize our plastic carry out bags from grocery stores by using them to line the bucket. We usually keep about 10 bags in the bucket lined at a time. That way when the bag is pulled out and tied up to be put outside in the can, another bag is already there waiting.
The medium-sized bucket is perfect for us and gets taken out almost every day without any fuss of smelly, stinky garbage that needs to go out. The bags are free and they are very easy to tie up and throw away. Sometimes when everyone is home for a holiday, we may empty the bucket 2 or 3 times a day. Again, no one minds carrying the plastic bag out because it is so compact and doesn't have a ton of garbage running out of it.
The total cost of this idea is $2 or less for plastic bucket at the dollar store. The liner bags are free from where you shop.
By Marsha from Greenville, NC
This may sound a little "unprofessional" to some, but in my business I mostly use used plastic bags for my customers. I simply ask "Would you like a recycled, used plastic bag?" and so far EVERY customer I've asked has said with enthusiasm "Why YES, I would LOVE a recycled bag!"
This only saves me a few pennies, but more importantly, it helps the environment. So all you business owners out there, why not offer your customers a recycled bag? (Be sure to double-check the used bags for cleanliness first.)
* You can also have a bin for them to return the plastic bags back to you and this might even help bring more customers back in!
By Cyinda from Seattle
When my wife and I had our first baby, we put a Diaper Genie on on baby shower want list. And we GOT it, but we found out with our second and third child that those bags from the grocery store did just as well as "diaper containment restraint fields" (We were Trekies). Drop the diaper in and the wipes used to clean up the deed and then tie the puppy tight to contain the odiferous concoction. Dispose of with distaste in the nearest refuse bin.
By Suntydt from Tazewell, TN
Save those tiny plastic grocery bags that are too small to use for anything else. I keep my other plastic bags to use for trash containers. You can use the really little bags to pick up doggie messes in the park when walking your dog and no waste bags are available.
By duckie-do from Cortez, CO
I save all my plastic bags to reuse, even the small bags that come from stores (meat, greeting cards, etc. are often put into small bags before being placed in the grocery bag).
I use them for kitty litter when scooping the pan, just tie off and put in the larger bag, I also use them for smelly garbage (onions, meat wrappers, etc). You can make a non odorous package by tying off the plastic bag as close to the garbage as possible, flipping the excess plastic over the garbage and tying again. Depending on the size of the bag you can often wrap it three times. Since I live on the third floor and only take the trash out once a day, I really found this helped cut down the odours (also keeps the cat's noses out of the can.)
By Cinnamon from Williams Lake BC
The most effective was to reuse plastic grocery bags that I do is make them into plarn, then into useful items like cell holders, lunch bags, purses, even a bingo bag for my one co-worker! There are SO many tutorials! Just google "Plarn Projects" and you will have ideas for days! Even BETTER, just look here on thrifyfun! They have many ideas for plarn!
By LadyMichelle from Pottstown, PA
Editor's Note: We do have many posts about using plarn here on ThriftyFun. Here is one guide with project instructions for making a tote or shopping bag. Check the related links or search the site for more projects.
We, as a whole, use way too much plastic. Its life span is hundred of years if put in landfills. So I have tried to find ways of reusing, recycling and looking at it in a different way.
Try not changing your trash bag more often then needed. If you sprinkle baking soda in a new bag, it will stay fresher longer. Why pay extra for scented bags. I take essential drops, put a couple drops on a cloth and wipe inside the bag. The smell lasts a week. Use vanilla, lavender or whatever is your favorite. If you are making dinner using meat containers, onions, garlic or have food that needs to be tossed, try using a grocery bag. Take it out right away instead of wasting a bag that isn't full.
Growing up in the country, we always had a bucket for the pigs, or maybe your community has a compost bin for gardens. Now I live in the city, so no buckets or pigs but I try to do my part. Living by the ocean, we always see how dolphins, fish and our waste is affecting everyone in some way.
When you get your food, most of us put produce in plastic type bags. Don't throw them away, instead try reusing them. You'll find they can come in handy. If not, maybe just get used to doing it in a different way. Look in the organic produce, my local store has the green bags for free. You can reuse them over and over again.These same bags are sold on TV and help with bananas or bread's life span. I have found by taking my lettuce, cucumbers or other produce out of the packaging or plastic bags, they keep crisper longer. The store keeps these damp to make it look more attractive to the buyer. It may look better but also will wilt your produce 3x as fast. Take out,dry off, put in drawer or container in fridge. Put a sponge in the drawer to absorb any moisture left. It works!
I buy a couple things packaged in really thick, resealable bags. Keep those and reuse them. They are great for taking along a damp cloth for sticky hands, laundry coins, dryer sheets, keeping Kleenex fresh; the list goes on. Using them for food is great! I have seen coffee in these type bags, my chia seeds come in them, cough drops. I have even noticed some chips now come in these type of plastic resealable bags. I find they keep things fresh so long and are not costing me a penny. Just remember, if you put in fridge,freezer or have several, mark what is in them.
Since I was a child, we used grocery bags in bathroom. I turn my so you can't see any writing and turn handles inward so you would never know. When I do have to get bags, I take several rolled up in the bottom of the bathroom container so when I take one out, another is handy.
We can't get away from plastic all together. If you try, be surprised how little you really need. All of it has another use and is saving you money somewhere else. Find a way to reuse them, even dog parks will take them. I have found they make great gloves when I don't want my hands to touch certain things. Great for cleaning out doors, even for painting.
I have found the zip lock bags can be used over 20x. I have a wine rack on my counter. Placing a wooden spoon so the handle sticks out is a great way for them to dry out fast. Just rinse, turn wrong side out, put in soapy water, rinse and dry. Ready for use next time. I have seen a cute clay pot with red beans in it that would be perfect. Stick any wooden spoon, wooden rulers or pencils, then set by sink to help your bags dry out faster. Lunches, snacks, sorting, dividing, freezing items all can be reused. Start your kids out young. Ask them to bring bag home. Let them see you reusing instead of wasting plastic. Tell them "I want your world to be better". They will grow up doing what you taught them and loving you for it.
It isnt about the money to everyone, as it is for me. We all need to look back and see what has happened and start changing it anyway we can. Being thrifty is a way of life for me, plus I love the challenge. Not everyone at the store has my budget. However, I do notice that more and more people are bringing in bags, taking them to thrift stores (when they don't shop there) or using their own bags. I think when I smile at them, we all know how great the little things are. This Earth was a gift, so I pray it brings joy for many, many generations.
By Luana M. from San Diego, CA
Another use for plastic bags is to drape them over a bucket or other container and then use as a toilet! If it's solid waste, you just tie it off and put it in the trash. If it's urine, then before using, line the bottom of the plastic bag with a layer of newspaper (or other absorbant). In either case, you can then tie off the bag then get rid of it in a sanitary way. I understand that in Africa, they call these "flying toilets." It would be great for camping or to use in an emergency situation.
By Pam M. from Los Angeles, CA
Use your plastic shopping bags for packing in shipping packages. It is light weight and free. Also it is a good cushion.
By Kate from Gainesville, FL
Save money on rubber and plastic! Want to re-purpose and re-use those plastic grocery store bags and get the most bang for your buck? Here are some answers that are sure to make you smile. When you get home from the store or pharmacy, don't just wad up those bags and throw them away. Tuck all of your bags inside of ONE bag and wait until you need them. Here are some great uses!
Well, there you have it. There are many more uses for plastic bags. If you want more, I can certainly give them to you. These are just a few. Use your own creativity and see what you can come up with.
Don't forget, after you have used them up, put them all in ONE bag and recycle. This tip will not only help the planet, but it will keep a lot more money in your pocket over the coming year.
By FranFran from Zebulon, Georgia
My husband and I like to walk for exercise and we like to bring water or iced tea with us. I have drink holders, but never can find one in the last minute, so we have found that just using a simple plastic grocery bag with handles makes a good improvised drink holder. If there is a hole in the bottom, it also drains well! That way we can always have a bag or two in the car available for when we decide to walk!
By pam munro
I normally use cloth bags for groceries, but occasionally forget to put them back in the car, so I have a few plastic bags in the house. I picked up a footstool with a vinyl top and wooden legs at a yard sale for $1.00. I wanted to use left-over material from the curtains to cover the vinyl. I also wanted it to have a quilted look.
Rather than buying quilt batting, I decided to recycle plastic grocery bags. I flattened a dozen bags and added a backing, then tacked them together. I cut my material the size I needed for the stool cover, then used the sewing machine to quilt the bags and backing to the material. This gave me a thinly quilted pad which I finished with material to cover the stool. I would NEVER suggest using plastic grocery bags for a real quilt, but they are quite durable for a stool cover and I recycled them.
By Dianne from Wilsonville, OR
A friend of mine was moving large speakers from CO to CA on a bus. We packed them in boxes and used wadded up plastic grocery bags instead of newspaper or peanuts. When she got home, she had a new stash of bags and perfect speakers.
By Patricia A. H. from Colorado Springs, CO
Don't we love to re-use those plastic bags from the grocery store? I store things in them, and a lot of women cut them into strips and crochet them. Those strips are called "plarn."
Well, a warning. They are now making them to disintegrate in the landfill. I just took one out of my cupboard that I was using to keep some socks, and before I could open it and take the socks out of it, it began to fall apart all over the floor. I couldn't stop the confetti, it was everywhere. It floated and flew. I had to drag out the vacuum cleaner.
The older bags are still useful, but be mindful; I wouldn't use them for crochet projects unless you are very sure they won't disintegrate.
Uses for plastic grocery bags (the one time use/disposable)
Source: Some from this website, etsy.com for some of the art projects, my own ideas and my friends' because no one likes waste.
By caeridwen from Kent OH
Instead of using plastic wrap, that sometimes fails to stick properly, use plastic bags for some leftovers.
I save clean produce bags that I get from the supermarket or use store-bought bags and insert the whole plate/container of some leftovers into the bag and seal with a twister.
I store any clean and usable bags in an empty "cube" tissue box. Be sure to check for any small tears or holes, if there are any, use tape to cover. An easy check is to fill the bag with air, twist to close; hold tightly and gently push to check if any air is coming out.
Depending on the leftover, at times; pizza for example, I may cover the food with wax paper before putting in the bag.
The food is sealed well in the bag and can be easily removed without any problems of recovering if needed.
This is also a good way to take food/baked goods when transporting to a party or gathering.
By mkymlp from NE PA USA
Even though I try to use my own shopping bags when I shop, I still wind up with a lot of plastic bags. I recycle them periodically with the various stores, but I also use them myself. I line trash cans with them and use them for storage and organization of suitably sized items. (Don't forget to label with a sharpie, before you tie the top!)
My favorite use of plastic shopping bags is for shipping packing. They weigh practically nothing and several partially filled with air and tied, make a great air cushion for fragile items.I put a few around the item to be cushioned and fill the rest of the space with air filled bags.
By Goldhillal from Waverly, AL
Never buy another kitchen trash bag! Mount a small metal frame to the inside of the door directly below the sink and hang plastic grocery bags from it. It's a great way to reuse all those store bags and easy to get at.
I replace my bags every 2 days or so. I also line the bottom of the bags with a layer of newspaper, as the bags are not watertight. By using smaller bags, the garbage never hangs around too long to stink up the house.
Source: I was tired of having an exposed garbage basket.
By annelaundrie from Green Bay, WI
I like to recycle plastic grocery bags in my kitchen garbage container. I bought a package of self-adhesive plastic cup hooks at the dollar store and put two on the inside of the trash can on the right and two more on the left. The handles of the plastic bags hang on the hooks, holding them up and open. When the bag is full, pull it off the hooks and tie it shut with the two handles. I have not bought garbage bags in 25 years.
I keep our plastic grocery bags and re-use them, but sometimes we get way too many to keep around. I fold them flat and cut strips of plastic circle (cutting the bag from side to side after cutting the handles off) and intertwine them by looping one through the other and pulling the opposite end through the loop. As I do this, I roll the strips into a ball because I use it as a crochet material.
I make tote bags for the beach and increase the size of them as much as needed to get the size I need to carry the wet things back from the beach. They are loosely crocheted enough to be sprayed outside with the items in the bag and get the sand off. Then just hang them and they will drip dry.
Make the handles on the tote bag long enough to carry it across the body, or at least over the shoulder, so your hands are free to do other things. You can even make rugs of these to put your wet boots on during the rainy season. Keep it outside though!
Follow any crochet pattern that you have for either of these and experiment on your own as well.
By Diane from Owego, NY
Take plastic shopping bags (if they are too lightweight, they will not hold the seal). Cut off the handles and the bottom seam. Flatten the bag out completely. Fold the outside to the inside, you need to double the bag.
Divide bag in equal thirds. Now is when the Food Saver comes in, seal from top to bottom. While sealing, gently pull on the bag and it will separate, you should have a good seal.
Taking 1 of these small tubes, fold sides into the middle that will be the bottom, then seal. Be sure to cut a small slit anywhere across the bottom for drainage.
I use these for starting seeds, transplanting seedlings, cuttings, and even established plants.
By Babbie from Lemon Grove CA
Sometimes, I forget to grab my "green" shopping bags before heading into the grocery store. I re-use the plastic bags by wrapping my produce in them. I have found that my lettuce, grapes, cabbage, peppers, carrots stay fresher much longer. This is also much more affordable than buying the "green" bags! I think it has to do with the lighting in the frig but I am no expert! The results are clear: my lettuce is crisp and green much longer!
By Kristy from Columbia, SC
I have been able to keep my car cleaned up, by hanging a plastic grocery bag on the back of the front passenger seat with a velcro cord holder. (This is a nylon web with velcro on the ends. I was able to find 10/$1 at the Dollar Store.) I put the holder around the metal head rest post and attach the grocery bag. It is easy and safe to get to while I am driving, and it is out of the way. MUCH better than throwing trash on the floor!
By dcnfamily from Reno, NV
There are lots of sticky, nasty things in our kitchens that we have to pick/clean up. When this happens, put your hand into a plastic grocery bag to pick up whatever it is and then just invert the bag and throw the sticky item away. Most of us have lots of those plastic grocery bags on hand anyway so this is a good use for them, too.
By Robin from Washington, IA
Scrunch plastic grocery bags length-wise and tie off in 4 or 5 places. Cut the top of the bag, then cut just below each place that the bag was tied off. Add a pipe-cleaner or stick "stem" and secure with florist tape. Add pom-pom center. Swish flower petals lightly into tacky glue and then dip into glitter.
Place in glass jar, an old vase that has been donated, or inexpensive vases from the dollar store. Add greens if you have them.
Take the excess clean, whole grocery bags to your local food pantry or farmstand. Please do not take ones that are wet, smelly, or dirty. It would also be helpful to the food pantry if you doubled them. For folks who are walking a distance, they need the extra strength of a double bag so the first one doesn't tear and helps with balance and weight. If you have extra cloth bags, they will likely welcome those as well. We are trying to change over to reusable cloth bags.
Source: Personal experience running a food pantry for several years
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Here are questions related to Uses for Plastic Grocery Bags.
I am making the plastic bag hat by Belva Slate. I need to know how high to make the crown. Do I need to add stitches on each row and the same for the brim of the hat?
By snapdragon1 from British Columbia, Canada
Hello Snapdragon1. I crochet Summer Hat from grocery Plastic bag and I make the crown 4 to 4.5 inches High. Yes you need to add stitches on each row.
Thrifty Fun has been around so long that many of our pages have been reset several times. Archives are older versions of the page and the feedback that was provided then.
|Make a Plastic Bag Rug!|
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
By RubyredI 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.
By WandaJoWhen 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.
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.http://www.doggiepoopcatcher.com for more info.
By katzSince 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.
By Robin 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!
By SandyAs 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.
By Melody from White City, Oregon
By Mr. Thrifty
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
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.
Bryan 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. By joesgirl 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.
By jeangnome46I 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.
By Sue L.
By Melody from White City, Oregon
By Debbie in SC
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. (02/08/2007)
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)