If you aren’t a reusable or paper bag user, chances are you probably have a bunch of plastic grocery sacks lying around your house. Here are 21 ways to reuse them, upcycle them and re-purpose them:
- Scoop up your pet’s business. We’ll get the groody ones out of the way first. Use those bags to scoop out a cat’s litter box or stuff one in your pocket to clean up after you dog on a walk.
- Luggage helpers. When traveling, wrap all cosmetics up in a spare plastic bag to prevent any nasty luggage leaks. I also like to store a few empty bags so I can put all dirty laundry or wet swim suits. etc. in them before we head back home.
- Bubble wrap replacer. Bubble wrap should be for popping, not for packaging! Stuff packages with bags before shipping them off. You can also wrap glasses and dishes in bags when packing for a big move.
- Kid’s parachute fun. With just a little floss or string, an old plastic bag turns into a cool new toy. Just cut a large square out of the bag and then tie a string to each corner. Then attach all strings to a small toy to give it some weight. Wallah.
- Donate them. Food pantries, kindergarten classroms and libraries often use plastic bags often. Call around and ask if any local branches/schools could use them.
- Trick-or-Treat bags. Let your kids go to town with some festive colors, paint, markers and glitter, and make some fun bags to gather all that candy!!
- Car trash cans. I like to keep a few in my glovebox and am always glad I do. I use them to gather all car trash on road trips. Keeps the car looking clean and tidy. Just how I like it.
- Paint brush saver. If I’m in the middle of a painting project and the day gets away from me, I just place a plastic bag over the wet paint brush and place a rubber band around it to seal it. Keeps the brush like new overnight so I can resume my project in the morning.
- Lunch box alternative. Plastic bags make for a great lunchbox for all those school and work lunches. No need to cough up money for those pricey packs!
- Endless trash bags. Plastic bags make the perfect trash liner for smaller trash cans in your office or bathroom. You won’t have to pay another dime for little trash bags.
- Recycling sorter. Hang plastic bags near your trash can to divide and sort your recycling. One bag for paper, one for plastics, etc.
- Ripen fruit faster. Place tomatoes, pears, peaches, etc. in a plastic bag to ripen them up a little faster. The bag traps the natural gas released by the ripening fruit, which helps it ripen faster.
- Protect your plants. Use bags to cover smaller outdoor plants when you know an overnight frost is coming. Use the handles to tie them closed at the base of the plant or the bottom of the pot. Just make sure you remove them in the morning.
- Stinky diaper deterrent. Wrap up those smelly diapers before you toss them in the trash to keep your whole house from smelling. No need for an expensive Diaper Genie.
- Arts and crafts applicator. Use a plastic bag as a paint, wax, stain, or polish applicator. Makes for a fun and funky paint brush alternative.
- Mini drip cloth. If you have smaller paint project, plastic bags work as perfect little drip cloths. Just lay them out on tables, under furniture, over carpet, etc. They work great to catch all those stray drips.
- Water park pal. Wrap up your wallet, car keys, or phone to keep the water out when you head to the beach or the water park.
- Trunk protector. You know how much I love new plants and flowers. I also like a nice clean car. So I throw down some plastic bags and line my trunk before I pile in the new pots in there. Keeps all that dirt and muck off my nice clean floors.
- Shape keepers. I stuff plastic bags in winter boots to help them keep their form when I’m not using them. I’m not a big purse girl, but I know a lot of my friends will stuff their flimsy purses with them to keep their shapes as well.
- Easy ice pack. Soak a rag in water and wrap it in a plastic bag before tossing it in the freezer. Makes for the perfect moldable ice pack.
- Recycle them. Many stores will pay you a bit to turn in your plastic bags, or they have bins at the front of the store where you can turn them in.
Do you use your plastic bags in any fun and inventive way?
I just try not to get them in the first place. But the ones that come in the house, I save in a bag holder and I use them for trash.
Elizabeth in Upstate NY says
Before putting the bag aside to use, I check for holes. Those with holes get tied into a big knot, and placed into a separate bag of like knotted ones. When full, I take them back to the grocery store. Sometimes over 50% of my grocery bags are useless for anything else when I get home.
22. When digging plants to give away or move, I’ll plop them into a grocery bag. Easy to carry and to water if plant can’t get into ground for a day or two. Much easier than trying to fit dug plant into a pot.
23. When cleaning out yukky things, use plastic bag for the yuk, double bag before getting placed in the trash. Helps keep trash from smelling.
24. In getting kids dressed to play in the snow, I’ll take their socked feet, cover with plastic bag, rubber band above ankle [not too tight]. Pull snow pants over bag. Easy to slide foot into snow boot. If snow gets into boot during play, the foot is still dry.
25. When a glass or plate gets broken [kids will be kids], all the pieces get placed in a plastic bag, and double or triple bagged. Helps keep the sharp edges from cutting the trash bag. Do this to dead light bulbs, broken or not.
26. Our old house has drafts during the winter. I’ve stuffed plastic bags to fill the hard to reach air leaks. Not a permanent fix but sure keeps the cold breeze from blowing on my feet!
I keep a large bag of good bags on my enclosed back porch, out of way, but still easily available.
My local YMCA put up a used plastic bag dispenser in the shower area for people to use to take home wet swim suits. They used to purchase plastic bags on a roll like grocery store produce bags. Great way to recycle and reuse!
Love the bubble wrap comment! My good friend is a school principal and hangs a roll of bubble wrap on her door with the sign “bubble wrap stress reducer-please pop away!’ She said it is hilarious to hear teachers outside her door come up, pop some bubble wrap and walk away giggling!
Melissa Gula-Wyszynski says
I highly discourage “reusing” plastic shopping bags as garbage bags for small garbage cans or your car, picking up doggie doo, wrapping stinky diapers in or any other capactity that helps them find their final resting places in landfills. We have an obscene problem with these bags and need to make sure that no matter how we reuse them…that ultimately they are recycled because we have a floating mass of plastic in the Pacific ocean that’s bigger than the state of Texas…filled with these innocent little plastic shopping bags. 🙁
I run a food pantry so I take my extras there and we have many people who drop off their bags for us too. We do get several with holes in them that we can’t use and we save those for a lady who crochets them into sleeping mats for the homeless. Her name is Molly and we now call them Molly bags.
Molly has such a great idea for the homeless. Let her know that Kandy in PA thanks her.
Deborah from FL says
That is so cool of her. Kudos to Molly! And bless you for the work you do to help the hungry. 🙂
I have seen people crochet with them as well. bath mats, “carpets” for inside of tents when camping, crocheted grocer bags (trust me, those puppies are tough), camping place mats, all sorts of stuff.
Rosscena Holzschuher says
I crochet rugs with yhe bags Throw it in washer and dryer they come out like new
We live in a county where plastic bags are now banned… forces you to bring your own bags or pay a dime for paper… which are reusable or recyclable.
Melissa Gula-Wyszynski says
I wish they’d ban them here in the United States!
I have heard that they can be woven into rugs!
you lay the bag flat, cut accross both thicknesses to make loops. fasten the loops together like you would rubber bands. and roll intyo a ball. you now have what is called plarn. crochet away. when you get to the end, add more if needed.
I don’t allow them into my house ever! If the grocers bag into plastic bags, I put it into plastic bins in my car and remove the bags and put them in a recycling place or the trash. My bins are too big for the grocery store and the thought of reusable bags harboring bacteria turns me off from them. I usually try to opt for paper at the grocery store and I reuse those. I hate all of the produce bags as well. Why bag bananas, avocados, limes, etc.
I also crochet with them, when I am forced to take them. (My husband freaks out if I try to make my own bags when he’s shopping with me. I rarely do much shopping with him around for this reason, but occasionally we stop at the store for something and he ends up with a plastic bag). Our town tried to ban them and then a state congressmen tried to propose a bill that would ban a ban on plastic bags. Ugh… Ridiculous! I also cover bowls of refrigerator bread dough with bags I’m sure are clean,
Of course, I recycle as many as I can. Just wish they were banned nationwide.
Melissa Gula-Wyszynski says
Mary Pearce says
Using instructions from Pinterest, I cut the bags into strips and chain them together to make “plarn” — it requires very little skill. Then I crochet the “plarn” into reusable grocery bags. There are patterns on Pinterest, or you can make it up as you go along. And they get a lot of comments at the grocery store!
I just might have to try that sometime. Sounds fun!
When I peel potatoes, eggs…anything that needs peeled I do it right in the bag for easy cleanup. When cleaning out the frig I put the throw away in a bag (double bagged) to take directly to the trash
BARBARA ONAN says
In the winter when we are expecting a snow storm or ice storm, I raise the windshield wipers off the car and cover them with plastic bags and tie them to the wipers. After the storm, I can clean my car and don’t have to worry about the wipers sticking in the snow or ice. It saves the wiper blades, too, so they don’t have to be replaced so often.
Mavis Butterfield says