Summit Saver Blog

20 Creative Uses for Plastic Grocery Bags

Let's be honest. It's your own fault you have a colony of plastic bags insulating the cabinet under your sink. Although it isn't your intention to start a collection, they keep weaseling their way home from Walmart. You don't know what to do about it.

Some good news is on the way! Enlist your plastic bags to do double and triple duty to save money on everyday products and recycle those crumpled mounds. Some are a bit obvious while others will challenge your current habits. Get started reusing today!

1. Trashcan Liners
Plastic Bags 101: If you aren't using them to line the bathroom trash bin, recognize this gaping hole in your education. It just makes sense. Save money on buying liners from the store since the grocery bags are a perfect size.

2. Travel Laundry Hamper
On the road again? For our family of three I generally pack 2-3 extra bags for dirties so they don't touch the clean clothes. I also wrap the gooey travel goods like shampoos and lotions with a couple bags in case of explosion.

3. Toy Organizer
Keep each puzzle, Lego set, and group of blocks together in a plastic bag. I'm all for the neatness of primary colored plastic containers--just buy fewer large ones and load them up with cleverly contained toys.

4. Barf Bags
Sometimes you'll run across a bitter flight attendant who didn't bother to make sure each seat is stocked with an "uh oh" bag. This has happened on two flights I've been on recently. Maybe they've started charging extra for them. Bring your own motion sickness insurance and you won't be that embarrassed passenger who ralphed everywhere.

5. Army Man Parachute
Put one bag inside the other and tie a string on each set of handles. Attach the string to your child's favorite army man, pony, or cat and watch him glide through the air.

6. Liquid Containment
For "non-spill" sippy cups (a total oxymoron), travel liquids, busted styrofoam cups, and defrosting chicken, enclose with a double-lined plastic bag to save the carpet.

7. Makeshift Umbrella
Grandma was a pro at this. She always had a couple of spare plastic bags in the car to protect her freshly quaffed curls. If you don't mind a few droplets on your clothes, but need to protect the do, cover your head with a bag and spare yourself the hassle of a traditional umbrella.

8. Shower Cap
Right in line with #7. Definitely double bag and tie the handles loosely at the base of your skull to avoid errant drips.

9. Stuffing for Toys or Pillows
For your "show" pillows (the shams no one is allowed to sleep on) just stuff with a pile of plastic bags rather than shelling out for a real pillow or cotton stuffing. It may crinkle a little, but will look great.

10. Reuse Bags at the Grocery Store
There's no rule against taking the plastic bags back to the store. Just leave the ones crusted with raw chicken juice at home.

11. Knee pads for the Garden
For flowerbed or gardening work, you'll need to protect your clothing or knees while rooting around. Wrap one or two bags around each knee and forget worrying about grass stains.

12. Gloves for Dog Doo
You get the picture. A man's gotta doo what a man's gotta doo for his four-legged friend.

13. Travel Diaper Pail
The plastic bag will not completely contain the stench of baby waste (especially after starting solids), but if you're on the road and can't score a trashcan, wrapping a poopy diaper in a plastic bag will reduce how quickly the stench diffuses.

14. Shipping or Packing Insulation
Bubble wrap is ridiculously high. Stick it to the postal people and recycle to stuff your packages. Pack in more than you think to reduce the amount of shifting during transit.

15. Lunch Sacks
Reuse the same bag many times to tote your leftovers to work. Label the bag clearly with a piece of tape to avoid the "accidental" lunch theft.

16. Paint Brush Storage
After you have thoroughly cleaned your paintbrush, wrap the bristles with part of a bag and secure with a rubber band. This will keep the shape of your brush and prevent other chemicals from leaking onto the bristles.

17. Medical Needs
When you have a body part in a cast or an area that can get wet, cut up a couple bags and double layer around the area with water resistant tape so you can bathe while recovering.

18. Wrapping Paper
Real Simple has a beautiful design for how to stylishly wrap birthday gifts with leftover bags. I probably wouldn't have the patience for it, but it looks great.

19. Text Book Covers
Double layer your bags and cut open to make a textbook cover. Avoid those extra charges for excessive wear and tear with a plastic exterior.

20. Quilt a Handbag
Definitely en vogue, the recycled handbag is a sheik alternative to leather and pleather products. But don't be a dolt and buy the designer recycled fashion products. Fashion your own from that overflowing shelf of bags!

Perhaps a better response to that breeding pile of plastic should be a shout of glee. By repurposing those tossables, you could save up to $120 dollars on the products above. Turn that trash into treasure to save big and responsibly recycle.

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