How to Repurpose Used Plastic Bags Into Eco-Friendly Products

How to Repurpose Used Plastic Bags Into Eco-Friendly Products

I’ve been on a journey to live more sustainably and reduce my plastic consumption. One way I’ve done that is by repurposing all the used plastic bags I accumulate into new eco-friendly products. This keeps the bags out of landfills and reduces my plastic waste.

In this article, I’ll share everything I’ve learned about repurposing used plastic bags into eco-friendly products. I’ll cover the different types of plastic bags, what items you can make with them, how to prepare the bags, techniques for weaving and sewing, and creative eco-friendly product ideas to spark your imagination.

Types of Plastic Bags That Can Be Repurposed

The most common plastic bags that can be repurposed are:

Grocery Bags

These are the thin plastic bags usually found in the produce and bulk food sections of grocery stores. They come in an array of colors and can be repurposed into woven rugs, baskets, and more.

Department Store Bags

Department stores often provide medium-sized plastic bags with handles to customers. These sturdier bags can be woven into tote bags, placemats, and even turned into yarn.

Dry Cleaning Bags

Dry cleaner garment bags are made of lightweight plastic that can easily be sewn into shopping bags and small pouches. The see-through plastic makes them great for wet bags.

Bread Bags

Bread bags are thin but sturdy bags that can be ironed into sheets and sewn into items like wallets, pencil cases, and more.

Case Overwrap Bags

Items like paper towels come wrapped in a thin plastic overwrap that can be repurposed through weaving and braiding.

Zipper Storage Bags

The best way to repurpose sturdy zipper bags is by ironing them into sheets for sewing projects.

Preparing Used Plastic Bags for Projects

Before you can start repurposing plastic bags, you need to clean and prepare them:

  • Give them a wash – Used plastic bags should be washed in warm, soapy water to clean off any residue and bacteria. Let them air dry completely.

  • Trim off logos and handles – For a cleaner look, cut off any logos, paper labels, and handles on the bags.

  • Flatten the bags – To make the bags easier to work with, press out any air and flatten them completely.

  • Cut into strips – Many projects require cutting the plastic bags into strips or sheets. Determine the width you need for your particular project.

  • Iron the bags – For bags that won’t lay flat, run a hot iron over them to seal the edges. This will make them easier to work with.

Weaving Techniques for Repurposed Plastic Bags

Some of the easiest ways to repurpose plastic bags is by weaving them. Here are a few techniques you can use:

Basic Over-Under Weaving

  • Cut plastic bags into 1-inch strips.
  • Tie strips together and anchor to a fixed object like a frame.
  • Weave the strips alternating over and under.
  • Add new strips of bags as needed.
  • Finish off ends by tying knots.

This technique can make placemats, rugs, baskets, and more.

Braiding

  • Cut bags into long, thin strips about 1/2 inch wide.
  • Group 3 strips together and anchor one end.
  • Begin braiding down the length, always crossing the right strand over the middle one.
  • Once braided, coil into circular placemats, bracelets, bowls, etc.

Loom Weaving

  • Set up a round or square loom.
  • Cut plastic bags into long strips about 1/2 inch wide.
  • Wrap strips across the loom in an over-under pattern.
  • Pack down rows tightly as you weave.
  • Remove from the loom and tie off ends when done.

Loom weaving makes trivets, rugs, totes, and more.

Sewing with Repurposed Plastic Bags

With a sewing machine, plastic bags can be transformed into all kinds of useful items:

Ironing Bags Into Sheets

  • Set iron to medium heat.
  • Place 2-3 plastic bags flat on ironing board.
  • Iron them together so they seal into a solid sheet.
  • Allow sheets to cool before handling.

Sewing Bags Into Totes and Purses

  • Cut plastic sheet into desired shapes and sizes for outer bag and handles.
  • Layer 2-3 sheets together for thickness.
  • Sew together by machine using strong thread.
  • Add lining, pockets, and embellishments.

Turning Bags Into Accessories

  • Trace patterns onto plastic sheets for items like wallets, pencil cases, and cosmetic bags.
  • Layer and sew together using straight or zig-zag stitch.
  • Bind edges with bias tape or ribbon.
  • Add zippers, Velcro, grommets, or other hardware.

Creative Repurposed Plastic Bag Projects

Here are just a few of the eco-friendly products you can make from plastic bags:

Woven Baskets

Plastic bag strips woven into baskets make handy organizing bins for bathrooms, playrooms, offices, and vehicles.

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Image source: Instructables

Crocheted Mats and Rugs

Plastic bags can be cut, tied together, and crocheted into durable and water-resistant rugs for outdoor patios, laundry rooms, and entryways.

Quilted Tote Bags and Purses

Iron plastic sheets together and sew into stylish totes and handbags. Quilt designs give them visual interest.

Plastic Yarn and Rope

Cut plastic bags into loops and tie them together to form yarn. Crochet the yarn into baskets, rugs, and ropes.

Zipper Pouches

Turn plastic bag sheets into handy zipper bags to organize everything from art supplies to first aid essentials.

Lunch and Snack Bags

Sew colorful plastic bag sheets into reusable sandwich, snack, and freezer bags.

The possibilities are endless with repurposed plastic bags! With some creativity and DIY spirit, you can turn trash into eco-friendly treasure.