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Trash, Upcycling/Recyling

Ideas for Reusing and Upcycling Plastic Bags

Below is a post from Guest Poster Bridget Sandorford. Bridget is a freelance writer and researcher for, where recently she’s been researching mexican cooking schools. In her spare time, she enjoys biking, painting and working on her first cookbook. 

Picture from usagainEvery time I go to the grocery store, I intend to bring my reusable bags, but I inevitably forget them at home. Instead, I end up taking home  yet another two-week supply of groceries in plastic bags that accumulate at the top of my pantry and remind me that I’m not doing my part for the environment.

I refuse to throw the bags away, but I’m afraid that if this trend continues, I may soon find myself living inside a ball of plastic bags. Of course, I can recycle them, but even recycling uses up energy and resources. Finding ways to reuse or upcycle the bags (turn them into new objects) is a much better way to deal with them. Here are a few ideas I found for how to reuse or upcycle the plastic bags that I seem to accumulate everywhere I go:

Use Them for Pillow Stuffing

A wad of plastic bags can be a great stuffing for accent pillows — especially those used for outdoor furniture since the plastic provides some weatherproofing. Simply wrap the plastic bags up and stuff them into a pillow encasing. Check out this tutorial from In My Own Style for a step-by-step guide on how to do this.

You can use the bags for stuffing on any type of pillow, but you may find they are too hard for bed pillows (or too crinkly). You could always use the bags for the center of the pillow and then surround it with fiberfill or another soft stuffing.

Make Plastic Yarnfrom Instructables

Plastic bags can be cut into strips that can be used as “yarn” and knitted or crocheted into just about any item. Check out this Instructable for creating your own plastic bag yarn and an example of a tote made from this special “fiber.”

There are many great examples of projects created from plastic bag yarn, including tote bags, coin purses, hats, mats, and more.

Make Plastic Fabric Sheets

if you can’t knit or crochet, you can still turn your plastic bags into raw material for your creative side. You can fuse the sheets together to create a  “fabric” that can be sewn on a machine or by hand. Check out this Instructable on how to make these simple fused sheets.

Many people have used these sheets to make purses, coin purses, pencil cases, coffee cozies, and much more. The more colorful bags you can find, the more creative you can get with your designs, just like a traditional seamstress.

Use Them for Refuse

Of course, plastic bags can simply be re-used as bags. They are great for small trash cans in your home, such as in your office or bathroom. They are also perfect for picking up dog waste and changing out your cat litter. You can also keep them in your car for the unexpected. Check out this tutorial from Tater Tots and Jello on how to make a stylish holder to keep a roll of plastic bags in your car (using an old wipes container).

Naturally, the best way to deal with plastic bags is to not use them at all. Carrying a reusable bag can help you limit your contribution to the demand for these bags. However, if you’re like me and you’re always forgetting your reusable bag and just can’t seem to stop accumulating plastic bags, these ideas can help you to reuse or upcycle them so they don’t wind up in the landfill.

How do you reuse your plastic bags? Share your tips in the comments!



One thought on “Ideas for Reusing and Upcycling Plastic Bags

  1. Nice post. I learn something new and challenging on blogs I stumbleupon everyday.
    It will always be interesting to read through articles from
    other writers and practice something from their sites.

    Posted by Chester | March 11, 2013, 2:12 pm

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