Creative Ways to Reuse Plastic Grocery Bags - More than 50 Tips!
by Rachel Keller & BetterBudgeting.com Readers
Are you a fellow recycler? Join our discussion on the many ways to reuse plastic grocery bags! You probably already use several of our tips, like lining trash cans or taking them with you when you walk your dog, but we have MANY more ideas for you here! More...
Do you have a drawer or closet stuffed full of empty grocery bags? I hate to throw anything away that could be useful so I have my share of plastic (and paper) bags. Through the years, I’ve discovered many ways to use those bags.
Before you discard (or even recycle) another plastic bag, consider trying some of these ideas:
1. Save money by using plastic bags as trash can liners.
2. Don’t buy expensive mailing fillers. Save plastic bags to protect and keep items from moving around.
3. Use plastic bags to protect Christmas decorations while storing.
4. Keep a couple plastic bags in a diaper bag for soiled clothing.
5. When traveling, use plastic bags in your suitcases for dirty underclothes.
6. Place your wet swim suits or other wet clothing inside plastic bags until you arrive home and can launder or hang out to dry.
7. When away from home, put dirty shoes or boots in a bag so you don’t get dirt in your car. (That’s assuming you have other shoes to wear.)
8. Place disposable diapers in a bag before tossing in the diaper pail. It helps diminish odors somewhat.
9. Keep several in your car, especially if you have children. If someone gets unexpectedly sick while on the highway and you’re unable to stop, use double bags. You can knot and dispose–better in the bag than all over the car.
10. Use for puzzles or other items which have small parts that may get lost. My elementary-age sons enjoy putting together (and taking apart) 500-piece puzzles. Unfortunately, some of the puzzle boxes have become worn out. I keep the puzzles in the boxes with a rubber band around the box. To prevent pieces from falling out and getting lost, I then place the puzzle inside a bag.
11. Place food inside a plastic bag before packing in a lunch bag. Even "airtight" containers can leak, especially if the lid is not on tightly.
12. Put sippy cups (even "spill-proof" ones) in a bag to prevent accidental spills in the diaper bag.
13. For easy cleanup, place a plastic bag inside a bucket or pot next to your sink when you peel fruits or vegetables. You can quickly dispose of the bag or place peelings in a compost pile.
14. Double line a bucket with plastic bags. When removing the skin and fat (or even bones) from chicken or other meat, place in bags for easy cleanup.
15. Place frozen ice packs in a plastic bags to prevent condensation from "puddling" in your lunch bag. When we travel, we freeze some water in our water bottles before filling them up with cold water. The bottles produce so much condensation, that it looks like a little lake in our cup dispensers. To prevent that, pack water bottles in a plastic bag.
16. Use for organization in a deep freezer. I stock up on frozen vegetables and place like vegetables together in a plastic bag. (Rotate by putting newest vegetables on the bottom of the bag.) I usually place my vegetables in the freezer in alphabetical order. Doing this helps me know exactly where to find certain vegetables. You can also use various colored bags to sort vegetables.
I like using bags to ensure no vegetables get "lost" in the freezer. Plus, I know exactly how many bags I have of each item, and unloading the freezer to defrost and clean is so much easier. Another hint is to list the contents of your deep freezer on a magnetic dry erase board (or keep a paper on top with a magnet). Every time you take out something, delete an item from the list. If you are diligent about this, you will know exactly what needs replacing when you go to the store.
17. When defrosting meats, place a paper towel in a plastic bag and put meats in the bag to prevent messy leaks and cleanups.
18. In the winter, use plastic bags over your children’s snow boots to keep feet drier.
19. Carry a couple bags with you while you walk. You can use it to pick up trash and then dispose.
20. Take bags to the grocery store to reuse instead of getting new ones each time. (Save the cost of buying reusable bags.)
21. Donate bags to food pantries, used book stores, libraries, thrift shops, or other organizations. Instead of stuffing all the bags into one bag, flatten the plastic bags, fold them in half, and place in another plastic bag before donating.
22. Fill several bags with food or other items for a needy family. (This is one of the most rewarding ways to use those bags!)
To keep your plastic bags neat and available, you can purchase special cloth bags for storing them, make your own bag, or use an empty tissue box. I find empty tissue boxes to be the most convenient and economical (as well as environmentally friendly) for me. Keep several in different rooms (pantry, closet, basement, baby room for diapers, etc.) and pull out bags as needed.
Here’s a hint while at the grocery store. Ask the bagger to put your cold items inside a paper bag. (You may want to have them put the frozen items in a plastic bag and then inside the paper bag.) The paper bag helps to keep the items colder longer, and when you arrive home, you’ll know automatically which bags to empty first.
One last caution: Teach your children never to put a plastic bag over their head. If you have young children, keep plastic bags out of their reach to avoid suffocation.
Do you have other uses for plastic bags? We would love to hear your ideas! Contact us here...
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"Crochet bags into door mats, easy to hose off. Around here several people have been crocheting the plastic bags into oval or circular rugs for their entry's, porches, and patios."
"Great for picking up dead mice or other things if gloves are not handy."
"At a garage sale recently a lady showed us how she folds her
bags--lay out flat and smooth with hands then fold in fourths lengthwise, then
in triangles as flags are folded. Line liter pans with plastic bags, double if
needed, easy to dispose of." - - Anonymous
Here's another similar tip... "For dog owners, before you go out in the yard to clean up, well you know!!! Put a bag inside of another bag, this is for extra protection, make two sets of these, wrap one set over each of your shoes before going out to clean the area our fine furry friends use as a potty. Remove the bags before heading back in the door. I have a deck so I remove them before my feet ever even touch my deck to prevent bringing those germs and possible accidents that may stick to the bags on my shoes, into my home." - Angela
"I always take stitching or crocheting with me in the car and on trips. I keep it in double plastic grocery bags. They are lightweight, fit in smaller spaces, and if the outer one gets dirty or torn, the inner one is still protecting my project." - Anonymous
"I double plastic grocery bags (just in case one has a hole--no leakage) and use them to collect scooped kitty waste from my cat's litter box. They are perfect for collecting the solids that are formed with scoopable litter." - Anonymous
"Electronic litter trays… These things come with plastic cases you have to buy over and over but I take two plastic bags, place one inside the other and line the disposable tray. When full just lift out by the handle and dispose. But one word of warning… You need to line the tray and tuck under all left over bag, underneath the tray or it will snag when the arm drops the litter into the tray. This can save you a lot of money as a 12 pack refill of the plastic bins for these electronic cat litter box, run about $15.00, why pay that when plastic bags from the grocery store are free?" - Angela
"Use plastic bags to clean birds cages, newspaper as the liner.
When cleaning out the newspaper liner, simply dispose of it in a plastic bag and then toss it. I have found this makes cleaning out the cage much easier and I do it daily. It takes me all of 2
minutes a day to have the bag right there at the cage, pick up the paper and plop it in the bag, then slide in 4 new pieces of paper. The cage no longer gets dirty like it did and I only have to do a cage wash down every 3 months."
"My father (God rest his soul) used to store the bags in a empty paper towel roll. Works like a charm." - ljds
already offered so many great tips of using plastic bags. I can not add another
one. I just wanted to let you know that I do not use many plastic bags... as
most of the time I take several bags made of sturdy fabrics with me to the
grocery store (or any other store or the library). They can hold more than the
plastic bags, I can reuse them over and over again (if dirty, just wash them), I
receive a 'bag credit' at the check out and it is very friendly to the
environment. Sometimes I get a few plastic bags anyway, because I forgot my bags
or I purchased more groceries than fit into my bags or I purchased meat, which I
like to have wrapped in a plastic bag in case it leaks. I use those extra
plastic bags for lining my garbage cans." - Sylvia
"I use them to collect and dispose of weeds in my yard. I use the bags to collect spent flowers when deadheading." - Jack
"I love your ideas. Here are some more for you to share with others: Use the boxes that pop cans come in to store your bags. The can dispenser holes are ideal for dispensing the bags. Just use the handle hole as a was to fill the box up again and again. That way you can recycle two types of items at once. You can cram so many bags into one of these little boxes and store the box in a cupboard. Kids and adults can make fun jewelry out of them by cutting them into strips and braiding them and making bracelets out of them. Save them to make ice packs in emergencies for sprains and other injuries." - Donna
"Preparing the Thanksgiving Turkey is a little hard on my ick nerve. I put my hand inside of a plastic grocery bag before reaching inside to pull out the neck and gizzards. I pull them out, then, with my other hand, pull the bag in the other direction so they're inside of the bag, tie it and dispose." - Angie
"I save a few paper towel rolls, stuff bags in (it will hold a lot) and keep under the car seat. You will always have a trash bag, and it is out of the way." - Nancy
"You can cut the bags on a continuous bias
to use in lieu of yarn and crochet bags and other items." -
"I use them in the laundry room to line a small can and dispose of lint from the dryers filter. That way you don't have to keep a large trashcan in there to dispose of it, or walk it to another room, while dragging the fly away dust from it with you to dispose of it. I have also done the same thing with just hanging the bag on a hook vs. taking up space with a small can, for those who have limited space in their laundry rooms."
"Wrap your feet or tie bags on your feet when having to enter a room that you just cleaned the carpet in. And wrap plastic bags around furniture legs to protect them from the cleaning solution that gets on them."
Note: I've been doing this one for years, it works great when you need a break from painting, even overnight! "Use plastic bags to store your wet paint brushes and rollers. Use a separate bag for each to put your item in and just twist the top of the bag around it and tuck in under before placing it down on the table or work surface."
"Hang a bag on the wall or your garage or shed to keep soiled work gloves or rags in."
If you need more information look online or ask
your local paint dealer.
"If you like to use paper bags, put one in a plastic bag, then you have handles!" - Rose V.
"To keep your garbage bags from tearing open when holding trash take a cloth bag and put your grocery bag inside it and hang on your door knot it's great when your live in a small place."
- Janice M.
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Copyright © 2005 by Rachel Keller. All rights reserved.
Readers' Tips compiled by Michelle Jones 2005-2013, editor of BetterBudgeting.com.
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