How to Repurpose Plastic Bags Into Reusable Shopping Totes

How to Repurpose Plastic Bags Into Reusable Shopping Totes

How to Repurpose Plastic Bags Into Reusable Shopping Totes

Here is an in-depth guide on how to repurpose plastic bags into reusable shopping totes. As someone concerned about reducing waste, I find this a great way to give plastic bags a second life.

Gathering Materials

The first step is gathering the required materials. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Plastic bags – Grocery bags, bread bags, newspaper sleeves, dry cleaning bags – collect plastic bags of various sizes and colors. The more variety, the better.

  • Scissors – Sharp scissors to cut the plastic bags open.

  • Ruler – To measure and cut straight edges.

  • Hole punch – A single hole punch to create holes for strings.

  • String/twine – To thread through the holes to combine plastic bags. Cotton twine works best.

  • Decorative materials (optional) – Things like fabric scraps, ribbons, buttons, acrylic paints etc. to jazz up your totes.

Preparing the Bags

With the materials ready, it’s time to prepare the plastic bags:

  • Carefully cut open the bags along the seams to flatten them out. This will give you a plastic sheet to work with.

  • Cut off any printed logos or handles so you have a plain plastic sheet. Recycle the discarded handles and logos.

  • Trim the plastic sheets to the sizes needed to fit together into totes. Keep some full sheet sizes and cut others in half.

  • Punch holes along the open edges of the plastic sheets. Space holes 2 inches apart.

  • Clean and dry the plastic pieces till they are grease-free. Wiping them with a wet cloth and mild detergent should do it.

Joining the Pieces

With the pieces ready, it’s time for my favorite part – joining them together:

  • Lay out the plastic sheets in a sequence that combines different colors and sizes.

  • Thread twine through the holes to sew the pieces together. Knot the twine at the ends to secure.

  • Fold and reinforce the sewn seams with glue or more stitches.

  • Make the handles by braiding together strands of twine. Attach these to the tote using secure knots.

  • For a base, take a sturdy plastic piece slightly bigger than the bottom. Sew it across the bottom leaving the edges open.

Adding Decorative Touches

To make the totes truly unique, decorate them with:

  • Fabric scraps – Sew or glue colorful fabric pieces in patterns or designs.

  • Ribbons and lace – Adhere ribbons along the seams or edges for accent.

  • Paint and stencils – Use acrylic paints in fun patterns, designs or stenciled words.

  • Buttons – Sew on buttons of various sizes and colors as embellishments.

  • Tassels and pompoms – Attach along bottom edges for a playful look.

Let your creativity run wild while decorating the totes!

Caring for the Totes

Here are some tips for maintaining reusable plastic bag totes:

  • Avoid putting too heavy items that may rip the plastic or tear seams.

  • If washing, use only mild detergent and air dry. Don’t machine wash or dry.

  • Don’t keep wet/damp items in the tote for long they may breed mold.

  • Periodically check for holes, tears and re-stitch or patch if required.

  • When not in use, fold and store the totes to prevent damage.

Creating reusable totes out of plastic bags is an easy, eco-friendly craft. With some basic materials and techniques, anyone can repurpose bags destined for landfills. The end result is a sturdy and stylish tote you can use instead of paper or plastic.