8 Ways to Re-use Plastic Bags

8 Ways to Re-Use Plastic Bags Featured Image

 Every now and again I get a bit overwhelmed with becoming sustainable. My head becomes a blur of non-plastic, organic, and ethical product alternatives. Before I know it, my brain is swimming in different brand names and I begin to forget why I started in the first place. Taking the time to evaluate can really help me regain my focus. How am I making changes to help the environment? What can I change in the near future? What changes can I aim for in the long-term? Writing a list can really help with this process. It’s also important to remember the three key concepts; reduce, re-use, recycle. You know, like they used to say in primary school. It may sound childish, but it’s an important message that can be applied to the present day.

Being sustainable doesn’t mean you have to immediately throw single-use items away. The average single use item is used for just 30 seconds before it’s thrown away. Let’s be real, who doesn’t have a plastic bag cupboard in their kitchen? While I’ve invested in reusable shopping bags, I’m not perfect. I’ll happily hold my hands up and say I’ve purchased the odd plastic bag here or there recently. It’s something I’m working on improving – sometimes life just gets in the way and there’s no other option. But there’s a few ways I like to reuse the plastic bags that accumulate in my life…

Plastic Bags

1 // Packaging Orders

In our flat the plastic bag cupboard has got a little out of control. There’s 8 of us in total and with my flatmates bringing home new plastic bags every week, they’re beginning to overflow. I recently began selling my unwanted clothing on Depop and every time someone purchases an item, I package it using plastic bags. I also include a note with each order stating why I’ve packaged their order that way, and how they can further extend the life-span of the bags.

This method is also handy when trying to keep the weight of a parcel on the lighter side. It’s saved me quite a few pennies in postage fees!

2 // Bin Liners

While there are non-plastic alternatives to bin liners available, it’s ultimately better for the environment to reuse old plastic bags rather than purchase alternative products. I find that plastic bags fit perfectly into the bin in my university bedroom. Ultimately, this doesn’t extend the life of the plastic bag for too long and it will still end up in landfill, but it’s still better than simply throwing it away to begin with.

3 // Shopping

This might seem a little simple, but there’s nothing stopping you from reusing the plastic bags you already own to do your shopping! They can easily be folded up and shoved in your pocket just in case you pop into a shop unexpectedly. It’s an easy way to avoid purchasing single-use plastic bags day-to-day.

Plastic Bags Close Up

4 // Knitting

You may have seen the trend of people using ‘plarn’ (plastic yarn) for various craft projects. One lady has even knit herself an entire suit out of plarn! I’m not exactly sure how to go about doing this, but it’s nothing you couldn’t find through a quick google search. Since plastic takes hundreds of years to eventually break down, it makes sense to make clothing out of it. You’re not just limited to clothing though – you can even craft woven baskets using plarn. Why not use single-use waste items like plastic bags to make something beautiful for you and your home?

5 // Arts and Crafts

Did you know that you can melt plastic bags down into beads? This is a simple yet effective way of reusing plastic bags to creative something beautiful and unique. This is an especially good idea if you have young children as it teaches them about recycling. If you’re an avid crafter, this also means you’ll save a bit of money on plastic beads while helping the planet.

6 // Recycling

This might not be the glamorous idea of reusing that you had in mind, but it’s effective all the same. Look out for the little recycling symbol on most bags and familiarise yourself with the coding system. It’s also useful to check with your local recycling centres to see what they do and don’t accept. Certain types of plastics can only be recycled by specific recycling plants. Often items end up being sent to landfill because they can’t be recycled at most recycling plants.

Ways to Reuse Plastic Bags - Storage

7 // Storage

While there are better storage alternatives to plastic bags, it’s more sustainable to re-use a plastic bag than it is to purchase all-new storage options. I find plastic bags useful for items such as loose tea leaves. When we went to Egypt I brought some hibiscus tea leaves back with me, and they’re stored in a shopping bag in our kitchen cupboard!

8 // Miscellaneous Waste

Similar to the point made with shopping, keeping a plastic bag in your pocket or bag can be useful for most types of waste. Particularly if you have a dog. How many of us have been caught without dog waste bags before? I know I have. Once again, having the plastic bag already saves you from having to buy even more in the future.

While I believe that plastic bags should be banned altogether, these are some small changes that can reduce the overall amount of plastic we buy day-to-day. The road to sustainability is a long one, and nobody’s perfect. So why not reuse the items we have before jumping straight on the alternative-product hype?

Let me know how you reuse plastic bags, if at all, in the comments section below!

8 Ways to Re-use Plastic Bags Pinterest Covers

12 comments so far.

12 responses to “8 Ways to Re-use Plastic Bags”

  1. Claire says:

    This is a really useful post! We’ve completely cut down on the number of plastic bags in the house now but using them to post things is a great suggestion. I used to take my flatmates bags back to the supermarket where they had a recycling bin for them too <3

    G is for Gingers xx

    • It just made the most sense to me rather than purchasing all-new packaging equipment – especially when our cupboards were practically bursting at the seams. I’m so glad you found this post useful, thanks for reading!
      El xx

  2. Róisín K says:

    This is such a great post idea! I try to avoid getting plastic bags at all costs, I normally have a foldable bag with me at all times so I don’t to get one. I never thought to use it as packaging for Depop.

    • The idea to use them as packaging just sort of made sense to me! They seem to hold up well during transit which was my biggest worry of all. Thanks for reading Róisín!
      El xx

  3. Some great tips here! I’ve been thinking about setting up a Depop account and will use the packaging idea!

    Megan | https://meganelizabethlifestyle.com/

  4. Adrienne says:

    The tip I love the most from this post is using the bags over for shopping. I think that’s a great idea. If we were to reuse them when we go food shopping because honestly we come home with so many and they just get tossed in the trash , we save a few for like the bathroom garbage and my spouse uses them to take his food to work but for the most part they’re just thrown away.. ima try refolding and using twice during shopping thank you for the great idea

    • I’m so glad you found this post helpful Adrienne! I feel like re-using them just as shopping bags is often overlooked because it seems too obvious haha. Thank you for reading.
      El xx

  5. Francesca says:

    I have so many plastic bags! Thanks so much for giving me ideas on how to use them, because they are everywhere haha. 🙂

  6. Sam says:

    This was such an helpful post. I tend to re use my plastic bags as bin-liners and a storage unit but I really didn’t think it could be used in knitting! Oh well, you learn something new every day. 😛

  7. It really is crazy how many ways simple materials can be repurposed! Thanks for reading Sam.
    El xx

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I'm Elen Mai, the brains behind Welsh Wanderer and 20-something human biology student from (you guessed it) Wales! Welsh Wanderer is designed with the eco-conscious adventurer in mind. So stick around for tips & tricks on living sustainably.

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