How Do I Reuse Plastic Bags?

by Alison Kroulek, Demand Media
    Invest in canvas tote bags to limit the number of plastic shopping bags you collect.

    Invest in canvas tote bags to limit the number of plastic shopping bags you collect.

    Plastic bags are everywhere: In 2002 alone, nearly five trillion of them were produced worldwide. They're so common, it almost seems like they grow on trees. However, the truth is that most of them are actually refined from crude oil and natural gas. They aren't biodegradable, and if they should escape from custody on the way to the landfill, it's all too easy for the wind to blow them somewhere they shouldn't be. For instance, plastic bags clog waterways and can choke wildlife. (See References 1, page 25) With that in mind, it's a good idea to find ways to reuse them.

    Items you will need

    • Used plastic shopping bags
    • Scissors

    Around the House

    Step 1

    Use plastic bags as trash can liners for small trash cans in your home or office. They are often just the right size for a small wastebasket.

    Step 2

    Tie two or more plastic bags around your knees to use as kneepads while gardening or scrubbing the floor. The bags will cushion your knees and keep your pants from getting dirty. (See References 2)

    Step 3

    Tie plastic bags over bowls of leftovers before you store them in the fridge. That way, you won't have to buy plastic wrap.

    Step 4

    Use plastic bags to protect your hands and dispose of waste when cleaning up after your dog on walks. For this particular chore, you'll want to use the bags two at a time. (See References 2)

    Step 5

    Bring used plastic bags back to the grocery store and use them again until they tear or start to fall apart. Many stores will even give you a small discount if you bring your own bags. Many also have a recycling bin specifically for those bags.

    Step 6

    Use plastic bags as packing material when sending gifts or packing for a move. This is much less messy than using foam packing peanuts. (See References 2)

    For Crafts

    Step 1

    Use crumpled plastic bags as stuffing to fill pillows, pet beds and similar items.

    Step 2

    Use plastic bags to put a painting project on hold temporarily. Tie the bags tightly over paintbrushes to keep them from drying out until you come back. (See References 2)

    Step 3

    Cut several plastic bags along one side so that they'll lay flat, then spread them across a work surface to protect it from stains and spills.

    Tip

    • When your plastic bags are past their useful life, don't throw them away. Take them to a plastic bag recycling center instead. Some supermarkets collect plastic bags for recycling.

    About the Author

    Alison Kroulek received her English degree from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in 2004 and has been writing professionally since 2006. Her work on environmental issues has been published on Celsias.com, GreenEnergyTrends.com and UnjunkMail.com, and in "Uncle John's Certified Organic Bathroom Reader."

    Photo Credits

    • David McNew/Getty Images News/Getty Images