Reusing Plastic Bags: Ideas for the Crafty, Commuters and the Rest of Us

Plastic bags are becoming a huge environmental problem. The number of bags people are using compared to the numbers that are being recycled is a scary figure. Luckily there are many things you can do to help change this, such as using canvas or cloth bags instead, declining a bag if the item you are purchasing is small enough to be carried or put in a purse, or bringing them to a recycling center. Also, there are many simple ways to reuse plastic bags in your own home.

One of the easiest ways to reuse plastic bags is to bring them back to the store with you the next time you go shopping. Plastic bags are small and light enough to stick in your bag or pocket without getting in the way, and more importantly prevent you from bringing another bag home, which you would then have to think of a way to reuse.

Another common use of plastic bags is to use them as trashcan liners. But with the amount of plastic bags people carry home from stores you will no doubt quickly end up with more bags than trashcans to line. Even using them as trash bags in the car isn’t going to do much to diminish your supply.

Commuters can use plastic bags to easily carry lunch or gym clothes to work. You can get multiple uses out of a single bag before it starts to tear or stretch out. They also work well on rainy days when your choices are either to hold the umbrella and drip water on nearby people, or stick it in your bag and soak all your belongings. Just put the umbrella in the plastic bag, tie a knot, and everything stays dry.

As a bike commuter I tie a plastic bag over my bike seat when my bike is parked outside and it is either raining or looks like it’s going to rain. This way when I am ready to get back on and ride I can just remove the bag and enjoy a nice dry seat.

If you are crafty you can cut the bags up into strips and tie multiple strips together to make a long piece of string or “yarn” which can then be knitted or croqueted into a sturdier plastic bag that you can use over and over. Plastic bag knit rugs are also very popular, as well as braided dog leashes.

Plastic bags make excellent gloves if you need to pick up after your dog, or are mixing hamburger or other messy foods you and want it all over your hands. Simply put your hand in the bag, do whatever needs to be done, and then turn the bag inside out, never having to touch anything but plastic.

Whether you stop using plastic bags entirely, or even just reuse them once before they end up in the trash, you are still doing your part to help reduce the number of bags in the world. And until there is a better solution, that is all you can do.

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