Reusing old plastic bags that would otherwise be thrown away is a great way to reduce waste and get creative making practical items for your home. With a little imagination and DIY skills, plastic bags can be repurposed into all kinds of useful products. This comprehensive guide will teach you everything you need to know to start repurposing plastic bags you have around the house into new household items.
The first step is collecting plastic bags to repurpose. Here are some tips for gathering bag materials:
- Save all the plastic shopping bags you get from stores. These are the most common type of bag that can be repurposed.
- Ask friends and family to save their plastic bags for you.
- Check if your local grocery store has a plastic bag recycling bin you can take bags from.
- Look for thick plastic dry cleaning bags as these work well for certain projects.
- Avoid bags that are labeled “compostable” or “biodegradable” as they may not repurpose well.
- Look for bags without holes, rips or tears.
Once you’ve gathered a good amount of bags, wash them to remove dirt, debris or food residue before repurposing. Now you’re ready to start a project!
Cutting and Preparing the Bags
Most repurposed plastic bag projects involve cutting, ironing and connecting multiple bags together. Here are some tips for preparing bags:
- Use sharp scissors to cut the bags into usable pieces. Kitchen shears also work well.
- Cut off any printed logos, handles and bottom seams you don’t want.
- Cut bags into either long strips or flattened sheets depending on the project.
- Use an iron on medium heat to flatten and seal pieces of bag together. Place parchment paper between the iron and plastic.
- Punch holes in bag pieces with an awl and connect with cable ties, yarn or twist ties.
- Connect bag pieces by knotting them tightly together.
Plastic Bag Projects
Here are some of the most common household items that can be made by repurposing plastic bags:
Reusable Shopping Bags
Reuse grocery bags by connecting them together into sturdy new reusable shopping bags.
- Cut bag handles off and set aside.
- Cut bags into widths of 6-10 inches to make longer strips.
- Seal strips together with iron or knotting to form a large sheet.
- Fold into bag shape and connect side seams with cable ties or knotting.
- Make strap handles by connecting bag handles with cable ties.
Trash Can Liners
Recycle plastic bags into custom-fit trash and recycling bin liners.
- Measure diameter of your bin opening.
- Cut bags to this width and twice the height of your bin.
- Seal cut edges by tightly knotting them.
- Place knotted edge at top of bin and gather open edges with a twist tie.
Make water-resistant pouches for storing items like cosmetics, cables, electronics and more.
- Cut two matching rectangular sheets from plastic bags.
- Seal three sides by ironing or knotting.
- Cut open a plastic bag zipper track and seal it to the open side.
- Punch holes across opening and lace yarn through to close.
Weave long cut strips of plastic bag together to create durable mats.
- Cut bags into continuous strips 1-2 inches wide.
- Tie strands together at one end.
- Weave the strands tightly together, alternating strips going over and under.
- Knot the open ends together when mat reaches desired size.
Strong braided rope can be crafted from connecting plastic bag strips.
- Cut multiple plastic bags into continuous strips about 1 inch wide.
- Group together 8-10 strips in your hand.
- Braid the strips together tightly.
- Continue braiding strips until rope reaches desired length.
Tips for Successful Plastic Bag Projects
Follow these tips when repurposing plastic bags for the best results:
- Use only clean and dry bags free of food residue.
- Pre-wash bags in warm water and dry fully if dirty.
- Store cleaned bags flat until you’re ready to cut and prepare them.
- When ironing, use medium heat and don’t leave iron sitting in one spot too long.
- Knot ties tightly and make multiple knots if needed for durability.
- Make sure woven and braided bags are pulled very tight.
- Add decorations like ribbons, fabric or paint to customize your creations.
With this guide, you should feel confident and equipped to start repurposing all those old plastic bags into new household items. Getting creative with recyling helps reduce waste and saves money. Plastic bag projects also make great crafts to do with kids. So grab your plastic bags and scissors and start repurposing today!