Top 14 Ways to Reuse your Paper and Plastic Bags

By: Shelby Kuenzli, Digital Marketing EcoFellow

Massachusetts has often been at the forefront in sustainable development and environmentally progressive policies. As of September 2017, 55 Massachusetts cities and towns, representing 19% of the state’s population, have passed a ban on single-use plastic shopping bags. Plastic bags can take hundreds of years to decompose and since recycling plastic bags is a costly process,
less than 5% of plastic grocery bags in the U.S. end up being recycled. Since Northampton passed a plastic bag ban, your options are to bring your own reusable grocery bags or be provided with paper bags at the counter. Learn how you can reuse your old plastic bags and paper bags in creative ways that keep them out of the landfill!

 

Uses for Plastic Bags

  1. Protect your side view mirrors.
    During freezing weather, tie plastic bags around your side view mirrors to prevent them from frosting over. It will save you time in the morning because you don’t have to scrape them!
  2. Cheap packing material.
    Substitute plastic bags as parcel padding for breakable or valuable items. You don’t have to purchase Styrofoam and it works just as well! Just make sure to pack it in securely.
  3. Painting tool preservation.
    Place wet paint brushes inside plastic bags and tie them shut to keep them from drying out while you’re taking a break. You can also use plastic bags to seal paint cans by putting a plastic bag over the paint can opening before you put the lid on. This prevents old, dried paint from the lid from falling back into the can!
  4. Keep your shoes in pristine condition.
    Walking through a muddy area? Is it snowing and you don’t have snowshoes? Tying plastic bags over your shoes can keep them clean and dry during adverse weather conditions. After washing your shoes, you can also ball plastic bags up and stuff them into your shoes while they are air-drying to help them keep their shape!
  5. Plant protection.
    You can tie a plastic bag around your plant overnight to protect it from the frost. Just remember to remove it the next morning! You can also use plastic bags as additional padding for your knees when gardening by tying them around your knees. They also keep you clean!
  6. Creative Craft.
    There are many creative crafts you can make from plastic bags! Here are just a few:

 

Uses for Paper Bags

  1. Use them for compost.
    Collect kitchen scraps and other compost items in a paper bag and then when it’s time to compost, dump out the food scraps and then tear up the bag to go directly into the compost pile.
  2. Use it as a recycling container.
    Paper bags are recyclable, so to make recycling paper easy, you can put all of your weekly paper recycling in a paper bag and then toss the whole thing into your recycling bin!
  3. Cover books.
    Cut and tape paper bags to cover and protect your favorite books. They’re also great to protect kids’ textbooks from damage and allows them to decorate them however they want!
  4. Moving or Traveling containers.
    Don’t want to pay for extra boxes when moving or traveling? No problem! Load up your paper bags with clothes, books, and more to make moving easier or to pack in the car for trips.
  5. Prevent weeds in your garden.
    Place plain (no dye) paper bags on the soil around your plants before covering with compost or mulch. It adds an extra layer of weed prevention for your plants!
  6. Use as gift bags and tags.
    With a little creativity, you can turn an old paper bag into a cute holiday gift bag. You can also turn paper bags into actual gift wrap by turning them inside out or turn them into gift tags!
  7. Kid’s art activities.
    You can use paper bags to make masks for Halloween or play time. Just cut out eye and mouth holes and let them draw funny faces on them! You can also make a kite and many more kid-friendly crafts!

 

Keeping plastic and paper bags out of the landfill and giving them new life is a great way to make green make sense. For more tips on how to repurpose old items, check out these blogs:

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