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Plastic Bag

13 Ways to Reuse Plastic Bags

Originally contributed by Stacey Nash • last updated 1/21/2021

Upcycling plastic bags keeps them out of landfills, oceans, and streets. It’s part of being a responsible consumer and taking care of the planet. You can stop scratching your head, wondering what you can do with a drawer full of plastic bags. Plastic bags are naturally durable, water-resistant, and pliable. With a little ingenuity, you can use them for practical and artistic purposes. 

1. Plastic Bag Coin Purse

Back in the day, people made clothing out of flour sacks. Well, plastic bags are today’s flour sacks. They’re everywhere, and some of them have fun designs and colors worth turning into a personal accessory, like this bag from We Can Make Anything. Plus, plastic natural repels water, keeping your coins, and whatever else you stick in that tiny purse, safe and dry. 

2. Protect Your Breakables

When packing day arrives, you don’t want grandma’s prize vase to go the way of all things (i.e. break). Plastic bags offer easy (and plentiful) packing material to protect your breakables. Fill breakable items like vases and bowls inside and out. The plastic cushions, but also protects the contents from water in case one of your boxes springs a leak. 

3. Plastic Bag Lampshade

This lampshade from Lindarose92 offers a romantic glow with movement and texture. You’ll be upcycling plastic bags in bulk with this project. It’s perfect for someone who’s been stuffing plastic bags in their kitchen drawer, saving them for the day they need 100 plastic bags.  Clear and white plastic bags are obvious choices, but what about varying the colors for a rainbow of light? 

4. Line the Trash Can

One of the simplest ways to use plastic bags is to line the trash can with a plastic bag. When it’s time to empty the trash, remove the bag, tie the handles, and throw it away. Save yourself a mess and get extra use out of the plastic bag. It’s not a fancy upcycle, but it’s practical and useful. 

5. Save That Paint Roller

Paint projects take time. If you’re not ready to wash out the roller, you can wrap the roller in a plastic bag and gently tie the handles to keep it moist until you’re ready to roll the next day. The plastic holds the moisture inside, preserving the roller. You can get away with leaving the roller in the bag longer if you store it in a refrigerator, but you only have a few days before the paint dries. 

6. Add Wall Texture

You can buy expensive texturing devices or use plastic bags. The answer seems obvious. Put those plastic bags to good use and save yourself a few dollars at the hardware store. 

7. Scoop the Poop

Leash and scoop, the golden rule of dog ownership. It doesn’t take too much creativity to use a plastic bag to clean up your pooch’s poo. However, think of the money you’ll save. If you’ve constantly got plastic bags coming into the house, use them to keep Fido from leaving his trash in the house. 

8. Make a Mini Greenhouse

When a cold front starts heading your way, grab those plastic bags and cover your delicate plants—stat. The plastic bag acts as a mini greenhouse that retains moisture and captures moisture from the plant’s transpiration, protecting it from freezing. Only leave the bag on until the temperatures have reached safe levels. Plastic can adversely affect the plant if left on too long. Make sure to wash your plastic bags before reusing them to remove any residue or bacteria. Soak the plastic bags for a few minutes in warm, soapy water. Then, rinse, and hang them to air dry. 

9. Garbage Bag Pom

One of the more creative ways to use plastic bags involves turning them into decorative, lighted poms. These beauties can light a garden party or offer a soft glow for a baby or wedding shower. Stick with white or clear bags unless you’ve got enough colored plastic bags to create a whole pom. 

10. Clean the Showerhead

Another practical way to use plastic bags involves the shower. If your showerhead is squirting in every direction except at you, chances are the tiny holes are clogged with mineral deposits. Soaking the showerhead in white vinegar dissolves the deposits and gets the water flowing again. Fill a plastic bag with white vinegar and place the showerhead inside it, holding the bag on with a rubber band. Leave the bag on for one hour, remove, and rinse the showerhead.  

11. Stuff Your Purse or Boots

Large purses and tall boots can slouch, creasing the leather. Stuff them with plastic bags and they hold their shape. There are no creases and your stuff lasts longer. Make sure the purse or boots are dry before stuffing them with plastic bags. The plastic may hold the moisture inside, leading to mildew or mold. 

12. Contain Those Muddy Shoes

Whether you’re heading out to the pumpkin patch or you live where it rains more than it shines, keeping a few plastic bags in the car can save you from cleaning up a muddy interior. Place dirty shoes in a plastic bag, and you save yourself work. You can also use plastic bags to protect shoes in your luggage while you travel. The bag keeps anything on the shoes from spreading to your clothes, too. 

13. Make Plarn

Plarn cracks open a whole new world of creative ways to use plastic bags. What’s plarn, you say? It’s plastic bag yarn—plarn. You then use the plarn to make baskets, rugs, planters, and many weaved or crocheted items. You can dye the plarn with permanent markers, too. The added bonus—everything you make with it is durable and water-resistant. 

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