20 Ways to Recycle Plastic Shopping Bags

Are you one of those people that refuses a bag for the smallest of purchases, instead opting to carry it to the car by hand? Do you hate when a cashier puts ridiculous items in a plastic bag like a gallon of water? Does it bother your conscience to see millions of plastic bags wasted every day? Or maybe you’ve got plastic bags popping out of every drawer and cabinet in your kitchen. Even if you must take one more plastic bag from the store, there are a million ways to reuse them. Granted, plastic bags don’t last long for re-bagging groceries because they tend to rip and split open but there are lots of other uses for them. Take a look at some of these ideas for reusing plastic shopping bags and try them in your own home.

Make a plastic bag rug. These rugs, although not these most decorative last a really long time and they are not very hard to make. Use plastic bag rugs at doorways or even outside. For complete directions that include photos go here.

Make a fused plastic tote bag. With some parchment paper, some plastic bags, and an iron you could make your own reusable plastic tote bag. These bags, if made properly are strong enough to carry books but versatile enough to pack a light picnic lunch. For instructions go here.

Use as newspaper ties. In many municipalities you have to bundle newspaper and yard debris like sticks before it can be collected. Plastic bags work great for ties and they are super strong. Two plastic bags will make one tie. Take the two bags and weave them together at the handles to make a knot. Cut a small slit in the bottom of each bag so excess air can escape. Starting at one end begin twisting the two plastic bags into a rope. When finished twisting you should have a rope about 2.5 feet long. Wrap around your stack of newspaper or bundle of sticks and tie together. If you need more rope repeat with two more bags. For newspaper bundles you will need two ropes. Depending on the size of your bundle of sticks you will need 2-3 ropes.

Use as trash bags. Because of their size plastic bags fit perfectly in small garbage cans we all have around the house. Use them in the bathroom, bedroom, office, or any other place you have small garbage cans.

Use as a shower cap. This is a great way to keep your hair dry and it doesn’t cost anything. Instead of buying plastic shower caps you can make one of a plastic shopping bag. Of course you’ll need a thicker bag that has no holes it in order to keep your hair dry. Place the bag over your head and roll the front edge up to your forehead, leaving the excess in the back. Gather the back like a ponytail and twist like a bun. When the bag is twisted around itself and secured tightly on your head tuck the “bun” under the back of your hairline. Voila! Now you have a disposable shower cap.

Use as a catpan liner. The thicker and bigger the bag, the better. Cat claws tend to scratch and rip up plastic bags so if you double the plastic bags you will have less chance of spilling the cat litter. If you prefer you can tape the sides down for a secure fit once you have filled the cat pan with litter. When it’s time to change the litter simply untape the sides and turn the bag into itself to catch the used litter. Repeat the process with a new bag and clean, fresh litter.

Use for packing and padding material. When you are moving or shipping items plastic bags can come in very handy. Instead of using paper or plastic bubbles to wrap glass and fragile items, use plastic bags instead. Stuff plastic bags inside of glass items and then wrap with 2-3 bags. Fill the bottom of boxes with wadded up plastic bags in the same way packing peanuts are used. Plastic bags are great for shipping delicate items that you don’t want broken.

Use as doggie picker uppers. When walking your dog, instead of buying doggie bags or simply leaving a mess behind use a plastic shopping bag. These bags are easy to carry and free. Double up two regular plastic bags or use one thick bag, such as a wine or liquor bag. After picking up the doggie mess turn the bag inside out and tie in a knot. Of course, dispose of properly.

Use for valance (curtain) stuffing. If you want your valances to have a bit more fullness use plastic bags for stuffing material. Use as many or as little plastic bags as you like until you’ve achieved your ideal appearance.

Make a simple cat toy. Cats love the crumple sound that plastic shopping bags make and the sound will drive them crazy for hours. You will need three bags for this project. Take one bag and lay it flat. Take the other two bags, crumple them up, and them take the third bag and crumple it around the other two bags. When ball shaped take the two end and tie loosely in a knot. Tight enough that the bags stay together, but loose enough that the bags still make the crumply-crunchy sound. You’re cat will love this toy. Throw this simple toy away when your cat has shredded it with his/her claws and simply make a new one.

Use as a shoe liner. Got a pair of shoes that always get your feet wet, or sending the kids out in the snow? Simply take one or two bags per each foot and put them on like socks, then slide on your shoes. The plastic bags will keep your feet warm and dry. Just make sure you don’t leave the handles sticking out and no one will know you’re wearing plastic bags on your feet.

Use as a car trash bag. Because plastic shopping bags have handles they make great trash bags for the car. Simply slide the handle over the shifter knob or around the headrest. If you use your car a lot you may have a lot of trash that builds up quickly and a plastic bag makes a great trash bag. Dispose of and replace as necessary.

Use as a shoe bag. Been on a camping trip or out playing in the mud while away from home? Well, take those dirty shoes and put them in a plastic bag. Once bagged you can put the dirty shoes into your luggage without worrying about getting everything dirty. Also works great for trips to the pool. Take wet towels and bathing suits, put into plastic bags and keep everything dry.

Use for making sewing patterns. If you like to have a size perfect pattern plastic bags can come in handy. The thicker the bag the better. Take each plastic bag and cut them into flat pieces, trimming away the handles and cutting open the sides. Next draw on your pattern pieces with a permanent marker and cut out for the perfect size sewing pattern.

Use for multi purpose storage. Plastic shopping bags work very well for storing all sorts of things in the home and garage. You can hang them easily from hooks by the handles and they are usually strong enough to hold several pounds. Store fruits and vegetables in the kitchen, bolts and screws in the garage, and odds and ends in closets around the home. If you can’t see whats in the bag, label with a piece of masking tape and magic marker what’s inside.

Use for kidproof cabinet locks. As with the newspaper ties, twist one of two bags into a thin rope. For knobs tie the rope into a circle and loop over each knob. Twist the excess and tuck between the loops. For handles take the rope and wrap 2-3 times through the handles and tie a knot. When ready to remove simply slice off with a razor, burn with a lighter, or cut with a pair of scissors. Keep kids and pets away from dangerous chemicals, toxins, and other dangerous items.

Use for an arts and crafts table covering. Take 3-4 plastic bags and cut off the handles, then cut open the plastic bags on each side forming a rectangle. Lay on your table and tape together with masking or duct tape. These plastic bags are great for children’s crafts because they are waterproof, glue proof, glitter proof, and paint proof. They’re pretty much indestructible. When finished with arts and crafts time simply roll up and throw away.

Use as a pet cage substrate. Keep urine and feces from dirtying the bottom of tank and make cleaning much easier. As with many of these projects cut off the handles and open the sides of the bags. cut to fit the size of your tank. One bag will cover the bottom of most tanks. For larger tanks you may have to use two. Continue to use your normal substrate on top of the plastic bag: wood chips, gravel, sand, etc. When the tank is dirty simply fold up the edges of the plastic bag to collect the dirty bedding and throw away. Repeat with every cleaning.

Use for paint shields. When painting in the home plastic bags make great shields. When painting ceilings simply cover lights and chandeliers with plastic bags to keep paint specks from ruining them. Cover thermostats with them or anything else you don’t want paint on.

Use as a highchair tray cover. Feeding baby something messy or something that might stain? Simply take one large plastic bag, turned inside out and wrap over the tray. Tie under the bottom so it cannot be removed by the baby and you’re ready for dinner. If the bag has ink you should definitely turn it inside out. Wipe down with dish soap and hot water before use for eating.

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