A couple of weeks ago I had a friend visit me from California. As we were out grocery shopping one day she remarked how weird it is for her to see stores just giving out bags for free! She reminded me that in California you now have to pay for bags when you go shopping. I know there are lots of differing opinions on that law, but I’m sure we could all agree that it wouldn’t even exist if we were all doing our part to reuse and recycle plastic bags!
I actually went out a couple of days later to get some reusable bags to use for my own shopping. Unfortunately, I know I won’t always remember to bring them with me. I also still use plastic zipper bags in my kitchen way more than I should. So I went on a hunt for ways to reuse plastic bags to cut down on my own waste.
When it comes to plastic zipper bags, if you have the time and energy, you can easily wash them and reuse them for storing food! Monica at The Yummy Life has some great tips on washing, drying, and storing used plastic bags. I would just avoid reusing bags that have had raw meat in them.
You can sometimes recycle plastic bags that aren’t too dirty. Check with your local recycling center to see if they take the type of plastic you are throwing out.
Be sure to check with your local thrift stores, food banks, libraries, schools, day care centers etc. to see if they ever need extra plastic bags or grocery sacks.
Here are 60+ more tips for reusing plastic bags in your own life!
In the kitchen…
- When packing up meat to put in the freezer, put smaller portions in cheap plastic bags. Then put those bags inside a larger freezer bag. That way you only throw away the cheaper bags and can reuse the more expensive freezer bag!
- Small bags are great for storing halves of peppers, onions, tomatoes etc.
- Put recipe cards in a clear plastic bag while you cook to keep them from getting messy.
- Put potentially smelly food scraps in a plastic bag in the freezer. When trash day rolls around, throw out the bag.
- Put store bought buns, cookies, bread etc. in a zipper plastic bag to keep them fresh longer. You can reuse the same bag over and over again!
- Keep hands clean while greasing baking pans! Place a plastic bag over your hand and scoop some butter from the tub.
- Pour excess cooking oil and grease (after it’s cooled down) into a plastic bag before throwing it in the trash.
- Cut one corner off a plastic bag to create a makeshift funnel. This trick also works to make a DIY piping bag!
- Put a couple of plastic bags over your hands to use as gloves when working with especially messy foods.
- Peel vegetables into a plastic bag to easily transport peels to your compost bin.
- Put packages of meat on a plastic bag in the refrigerator when defrosting to keep juices from going all over the place.
- Pack lunches in leftover grocery sacks.
- Reuse grocery sacks for more groceries! Some stores will even take them back to reuse them.
In the bathroom…
- Put your tablet or phone in a plastic bag when you want to read in the bathtub.
- Put leftover slivers from soap bars into a plastic bag. When the bag is full, you can melt the pieces together to create a new bar of soap!
- Fill a plastic bag with distilled white vinegar, then tie it around your showerhead to remove soap scum and mildew.
- Store your plunger in a grocery sack.
In the garden…
- You can also cover small pots with plastic bags to create a mini greenhouse and help plants sprout.
- Reuse baggies to create starter pots for plants. Just poke a few holes in the bottoms of the bags, fill with soil and plant your seeds.
- Cut the bottom off a couple of zipper bag, then slide the bags up your legs to protect your knees from getting dirty when weeding the garden.
- If you think an early frost is coming on, cover fragile plants with plastic bags.
- Carry a grocery sack with you as you weed your garden to corral weeds before throwing them away or in your compost bin.
- Tie a grocery sack to your lawn mower to store litter, dog toys, pine cones etc. as you mow the lawn.
More ideas around the house…
- When mailing packages, save money on bubble wrap by inflating plastic bags to use as padding. Old grocery sacks are also great padding! Use this trick when packing away breakable Christmas ornaments as well.
- Create a simple cold pack by placing a damp cloth in a plastic bag and freezing it.
- Put a plastic bag around any outdoor padlocks in the winter to keep them from freezing.
- Grocery store bags make great garbage can liners.
- Save grocery sacks to use at your next yard sale.
- Wrap cold water bottles in a plastic bag before putting them in your purse or backpack.
- Put ice in a plastic bag in your cooler. That way the water stays inside the bag when it starts to melt!
- Punch holes in the non-zippered side of a plastic bag and put it in your three-ring binders to hold pens, pencils, scissors etc.
- Put instruction manuals in plastic bags and tape them to the backs of the corresponding appliances.
- Create a scented sachet by putting a few cotton balls in a plastic bag and adding a few drops of your favorite essential oil. Poke some oils in the bag and put it in your dresser drawer.
- Fill winter boots or purses you don’t use very often with plastic bags to help them keep their shape.
In the car…
- Keep a plastic baggie in your car/glove compartment to organize receipts.
- Plastic baggies are also great in the car for keeping stamps, envelopes, pens, stationary items, small first aid items etc. handy!
- Put coupons in a plastic baggie to take to the grocery store.
- Put crayons for the kiddos in a plastic baggie on road trips. That way if the crayons melt in a hot car they won’t make a mess all over your seats!
- Tie a grocery sack to the back of a headrest to use as a makeshift trash can.
- Keep plastic bags on hand for family member or friends that tend to get carsick.
- Cover your side mirrors and windshield wipers with plastic bags when it snows to keep ice and snow from accumulating on them.
- Keep some grocery sacks on hand to cover muddy shoes before getting in the car.
- Put wet umbrellas in a plastic bag to keep your seats and floors dry.
- Line the trunk of your car with plastic bags when you buy plants to keep the floor clean.
- Use an old bag to wipe the dipstick when you check your oil.
- Pack shoes in plastic bags when you travel to keep them from getting scuffed and to keep other items in your suitcase from getting dirty.
- Bring along an extra plastic bag to store dirty clothes and underwear.
- Reuse small plastic baggies to pack things like q-tips, cotton balls, hair ties, bobby pins etc.
- Put bottles that have the potential to explode in a baggie.
- Put valuables like your ID, passport, money, phone etc. in a plastic bag when you go to the beach, water park pool etc. to keep them from getting wet.
For kids …
- Create a makeshift toy parachute with a leftover baggie. Get the instructions from Kim at Seven Thirty Three.
- Corral board games pieces with plastic bags so things aren’t missing when you want to play your favorite game!
- Organize tiny doll accessories in plastic bags.
- Put Lego sets in clear plastic bags so kids know what’s in each bag without having to dump them out.
- Put Play-doh in a plastic bag so you can flatten it out for easy storage.
- Send spare clothes or underwear in a plastic bag with kids to school or daycare.
- Keep baggies in your diaper bag for storing dirty diapers or clothes until you can find a trash can or get home.
- Keep extra pacifiers, wipes etc. on hand in a small plastic bag.
- One great way to use dirty plastic bags is to pick up dog droppings on walks. If you don’t have a dog yourself donate them to friends and family with dogs or even to your local animal shelter.
- Scoop cat litter with leftover dirty plastic bags. Or you can line the litter box with a plastic bag.
For DIY projects…
- Create a free pillow insert with grocery bags. Get the instructions at In My Own Style.
- Reuse small plastic bags to create travel sewing kits.
- Keep craft supplies like sequins, sticker, glue etc. organized in small bags.
- Wrap a plastic bag tightly around a paintbrush or roller and tie a rubber band around the bottom to seal it. This method will keep paint wet for as long as a full day!
- Use a plastic bag as a paint, wax, stain, or polish applicator.
- Put plastic bags under furniture you are painting. Plastic bags also work great for protecting tables and counters when kids are doing craft projects.