How to Upcycle Used Plastic Bags into Reusable Shopping Totes

How to Upcycle Used Plastic Bags into Reusable Shopping Totes

How to Upcycle Used Plastic Bags into Reusable Shopping Totes

Reusing plastic bags is an excellent way to give them new life and reduce waste. With a few simple steps, you can upcycle used plastic bags into handy reusable shopping totes. Here is a complete guide on how to turn plastic bags into reusable totes at home.

Gather Materials

  • Plastic bags – Collect used plastic shopping bags, grocery bags, bread bags, newspaper sleeves etc. The more you collect, the bigger your tote can be.
  • Scissors – You’ll need a pair of scissors to cut the plastic bags open.
  • Ruler – Use a ruler to measure and cut straight edges on the plastic sheets.
  • Iron – An iron is needed to fuse the plastic sheets together. Use a medium heat setting without steam.

Prepare the Plastic Sheets

  1. Start by cutting open the plastic bags along the seams so they lay flat.
  2. Trim off the sealed ends on bottom of the bags.
  3. Use the ruler and scissors to cut the plastic bags into even rectangular sheets. Make them approximately the same size.
  4. Stack 4-6 overlapping plastic sheets together. More sheets will make a thicker, sturdier tote.

Fuse the Plastic Sheets

  1. With the plastic sheets stacked, use an iron on medium heat to fuse them together. Do not use steam.
  2. Press down firmly and run the iron over the entire surface to seal the layers together.
  3. Fuse all sides by flipping over the stack and ironing the other sides.
  4. Allow it to fully cool before moving to next step.

Cut and Shape the Tote Bag

  1. Once fused and cooled, trace a tote bag shape onto the plastic using a pencil. An empty paper grocery bag can be used as a template.
  2. Cut out the tote bag shape through all the fused plastic layers.
  3. Round the corners and trim any uneven edges with scissors.

Create the Bag Straps

  1. Cut (2) 1.5″ x 20″ strips out of plastic sheets for the handles.
  2. Stack and fuse them just like the bag.
  3. Cut the fused strap in half to make 2 straps.
  4. Use the iron to seal the long raw ends of the straps.
  5. Align the straps along the top edge of the tote, 4″ in from sides.
  6. Fuse the straps in place on the inside and outside of bag.

Add Decorative Details (Optional)

  • Stitch sequins, buttons or fabric scraps onto the tote with needle and thread.
  • Cut a stencil from cardstock and spray paint a design.
  • Attach ribbons or make tassels to tie onto the straps.
  • Get creative and customize your upcycled plastic tote!

With a simple process, stacks of old plastic bags can be repurposed into a durable and eco-friendly tote bag. Upcycling plastic bags keeps them out of landfills and oceans. Try making these reusable shopping bags yourself!