7 Crazy Ways to Reuse Plastic Grocery Bags

Posted on February 22, 2012 by Courtney

It happens to every Greenist from time to time: You arrive at the grocery store to do some shopping, take a look at the stuff in your cart, and realize: You forgot your reusable bags. I’ve done it, you’ve done it, we’ve all done it. Sometimes the bags are in the trunk of my car and I just need to dash out and get them; other times I’ve left them at home, which means it’s time to admit defeat and let the bagger put my stuff in those forsaken plastic grocery bags.

Of course you know that you can recycle those plastic bags — most grocery stores have recycling bins out front to collect them. I also reuse them to line the small trash cans around my home. But if you’re looking for other ways to reuse your stash of plastic bags, here are a few ideas: 

1. Make plarn! Short for plastic yarn, plarn can be used in place of regular yarn for crocheting and knitting. Just cut your plastic bags into strips and then combine them into one long strand. For step-by-step instructions, click here.

2. Once you’ve made plarn, crochet yourself a tote bag! This post from The Etsy Blog shows you how. Just don’t forget this one when you go grocery shopping, or the whole exercise will be for nothing. On the other hand, you’ll have plenty more plastic bags from which to make plarn.

3. If you’re a weaver, you can make throw rugs out of plastic bags. You’ll need a loom for this technique.

4. Do you love a textured effect on a painted wall? I do — it’s a subtle way to add interesting detail to a room. To achieve this with a plastic bag, first paint your wall a dark color with a normal paint roller, then apply a second, lighter colored coat with a scrunched-up plastic bag.

5. Save them for packing material. Duh. When you have to ship something fragile, or if you’re moving, don’t go out and buy bubble wrap. You’ve already got all the padding material you need! (Pro tip: If you’re moving, make use of your towels and clothing to wrap breakable things. You’re moving it all anyway; might as well put your soft stuff to good use.)

6. If you’ve got spare bags in unusually pretty colors, make flowers out of them! Get step-by-step instructions here.

7. Finally, you can make a soccer ball out of old plastic bags. If you’ve got kids, it could be a fun project for them, as well as a good lesson in appreciating what they have. Check out this video of an African child making a soccer ball out of plastic bags and string:

What do you do with old plastic bags?


  1. Those plarn crocheted bags are cool!

    February 22nd, 2012 at 10:48 am
    Comment by The Modern Gal
  2. Nice! I haven’t watched the video because I’m at work, but from the still it looks like the kid’s wearing homemade shoes, as well. I imagine the list of what you can do with a wad of bags goes on and on.

    February 22nd, 2012 at 11:10 am
    Comment by mickey
  3. Courtney – Good job! (How would you like to come to my school and teach research?) And the video is such a great example of creative genius and ingenuity. I love that kid!

    February 22nd, 2012 at 5:30 pm
    Comment by Lynn
  4. Some good ideas here, I usually throw mine away as soon as I un-bag my groceries.

    February 23rd, 2012 at 12:33 pm
    Comment by Linda Taylor

Leave a comment

Tip of the Day

If It Doesn’t Smell, Don’t Wash It


According to Real Simple, if every American made an effort to launder less — cutting out just one load of laundry a week per household — we’d save enough water to fill seven million swimming pools each year.

So if it looks clean, and it smells clean, call it clean and wear it again. Consider hanging worn clothes out on your clothesline to freshen them up between wearings.

  • Stay-ad

    Support This Site