How can I Reuse Plastic Grocery Bags?

wiseGEEK Writer

There has been growing concern over the use of plastic grocery bags, which in many cases can’t be recycled. Some grocery stores will accept them back for recycling, but there are other ways, if you don’t have such a program, that you can reuse plastic grocery bags, sometimes repeatedly, to cut down on using more. Of course the simplest solution is not to use them at all. Many grocery stores now sell reusable bags of cloth or recyclable materials that you just have to remember to bring back to the store when you shop.

A plastic bag.
A plastic bag.

First, you can of course reuse plastic grocery bags by bringing them back to the store the next time you shop. You may be able to use a grocery bag several times before it breaks and is no longer useable. Alternately, many people suggest, since most of us line our garbage cans with plastic bags, that they may great liners for small garbage cans.

Produce bags may be reused as small trash bags.
Produce bags may be reused as small trash bags.

You can also reuse plastic grocery bags for many things around the home. They are perfect collectors for cat and dog waste, though you can only use them once for this purpose. You can keep old magazines in them, yarn for your knitting projects, child’s crafts materials, or a host of other things in plastic bags. Cover your sweaters in them and tie them tight to prevent moths from eating them during summer months, or protect plants from bitterly cold nights by placing them over plants during frosts and freezes.

The bags are also easy to use outside the home in a variety of ways because they’re light and portable. You can reuse plastic grocery bags as trash bags in your car, to bring camping supplies on a trip, or to get rid of a baby’s dirty diapers just about anywhere you go. Take them to the nearby swimming pool to hold wet towels or clothes, or to the beach to pick up shells. Give them to the kids for collection of Halloween candy instead of buying another bag. Hang them on the doors of your kids’ rooms for laundry collection too — provided they’re old enough not to put the bags over their heads — and send PE clothes in them back and forth to school.

There are also creative ways to reuse plastic grocery bags, and some people have turned their bags into art, or sturdy household items. One suggestion is to cut the bags into strips and reweave or crochet them into essentially two-ply bags that will hold up well for multiple uses at the grocery store. More artful projects suggest fusing the bags together with burning to make various items. Do be wary of this suggestion. When burned or heated, plastic bags can produce toxic fumes.

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