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.
- 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
- Start by cutting open the plastic bags along the seams so they lay flat.
- Trim off the sealed ends on bottom of the bags.
- Use the ruler and scissors to cut the plastic bags into even rectangular sheets. Make them approximately the same size.
- Stack 4-6 overlapping plastic sheets together. More sheets will make a thicker, sturdier tote.
Fuse the Plastic Sheets
- With the plastic sheets stacked, use an iron on medium heat to fuse them together. Do not use steam.
- Press down firmly and run the iron over the entire surface to seal the layers together.
- Fuse all sides by flipping over the stack and ironing the other sides.
- Allow it to fully cool before moving to next step.
Cut and Shape the Tote Bag
- 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.
- Cut out the tote bag shape through all the fused plastic layers.
- Round the corners and trim any uneven edges with scissors.
Create the Bag Straps
- Cut (2) 1.5″ x 20″ strips out of plastic sheets for the handles.
- Stack and fuse them just like the bag.
- Cut the fused strap in half to make 2 straps.
- Use the iron to seal the long raw ends of the straps.
- Align the straps along the top edge of the tote, 4″ in from sides.
- 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!