Brown paper bags were once a lunchtime staple in schools and offices everywhere. It seemed like everyone carried their lunches in those little brown bags! But even though they’ve been largely replaced by reusable insulated lunch bags, that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of other ways to put them to good use! I actually keep a stack of paper bags in my pantry, and I use them in a lot of different ways. And today I’ll be sharing all of my very favorite ways to use brown paper bags, so you can see just how useful these bags can still be!
Here are 9 brilliant and useful things you can do with a classic brown paper bag.
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9 Uses For Brown Paper Bags
1. Ripen Fruit Faster
You can quickly ripen some kinds of fruits by storing them in a paper bag! This works for bananas, tomatoes, pears, peaches, avocados, and more. Just place the fruit inside, roll the top of the bag closed, and let it sit on your counter for a day or two. Fruit releases ethylene gas over time, and the paper bag will trap the gas inside which will cause it to ripen faster. (This won’t work in a plastic bag, because plastic will also trap in moisture and cause the fruit to rot.)
2. Make Homemade Popcorn
If you have a brown paper bag, you can make really delicious homemade popcorn in your microwave! Homemade popcorn makes a great snack between mealtimes, and it’s even pretty healthy if you don’t go crazy with the butter. ;-) Get all the instructions for making paper bag popcorn at the link below!
3. Clean Windows
Tear open a paper bag, bunch it up, and use it to clean your windows! Many people swear by using paper bags or newspaper to clean their mirrors and windows, because the paper leaves behind a lint- and streak-free shine!
4. Serve Snacks
Use paper bags to serve snacks at any party or gathering! They have a great rustic look as serving bowls, and you won’t have to wash as many dishes when your party is over. :-) Just roll the top of the bag down or cut it off with a pair of scissors, pour in your snack of choice, and serve!
5. Collect Recycling
I always hang on to my paper grocery store bags to use to collect my recycling. When the bag gets full, I can take the whole bag to the recycling center without having to transfer it in or out of another container.
6. Collect Compost
Speaking of collecting things, another great way to use paper bags is to collect items for your compost pile. Then when you take it out to your compost pile, you can shred the paper bag up and toss it in right in too! (Smaller pieces of paper bag will break down faster, so make sure to tear it up into small pieces if you can!)
7. Wrap A Gift
You can use a paper bag to wrap a small gift! Just cut the bag up so you can lay it out flat, and wrap your item up. Wrap a piece of cute twine around it as a finishing touch, and it’s ready to be gifted! (I love the rustic look of these little packages for handmade gifts like homemade soap and bath bombs.)
8. Filler Material
If you have access to a paper shredder, you can put a few paper bags through to create your own filler material. These little paper shreds can be used as filler for gifts or as packing material. You can also use it to cushion fragile items for storage.
Related: 9 (More!) Gifts In A Jar
9. Arts & Crafts
Cut open a few paper bags and use them for art projects like drawing and painting. Or you can use them to protect your tabletop from messy projects like DIY projects, egg dyeing, or pumpkin carving.