DIY Repurposing

10 Brilliant Ways to Reuse Plastic Bags

Despite our greatest efforts to minimize our use of plastic grocery bags by opting for reusable shopping bags, that pesky plastic always has a way of ending up in our homes. But you don’t have to throw them away and add to the ever-growing plastic refuse filling our landfills and oceans. There are many creative ways to recycle, repurpose, and reuse those little plastic bags.

We may earn revenue from the products available on this page and participate in affiliate programs. Learn More ›

Package Valuables

Rescue those plastic bags from the dust bin and use them to protect fragile items when you move. By wrapping your breakables in plastic bags, you’ll avoid using packing products like styrofoam peanuts that just create more waste. After moving day, take the plastic bags from boxes and set them aside until you need them for another one of these DIY ideas.

Save Paint Brushes & Rollers for Later

If you need to take a break in the middle of a painting project, you don’t necessarily need to rinse your brushes and rollers first. Before you dash, wrap your brushes and rollers in a clean plastic grocery bag and put them in the refrigerator to keep them from drying out. When wrapped properly, a plastic bag can keep wet brushes and rollers paint-ready for several hours, giving you plenty of time to return to the project when you’re ready.

Related: 10 Unusual Tricks for Your Easiest-Ever Paint Job

Protect Your Plants

Expecting a cold front? Protect tender plants from overnight frost by gently tying a plastic bag around them. The plastic buffer will keep the harsh wind and chill at bay by trapping warm air inside to insulate roots and branches.

Make “Plarn” for Household Crafts via Cheryl

If you’re crafty and enjoy knitting or crocheting, you can turn grocery bags into plastic yarn (or plarn) to use in a zillion-and-one projects. Just lay your bags flat and cut across, top to bottom (discarding the handles), to create loops. Knot the loops together to create a long strand of material, then roll the strand into a ball and use it to create coasters, placemats, reusable bags, rugs, plant hangers, or any other creative notion your mind invents.

Related: 14 Unusual Uses for Vaseline

Line Your Trash Cans

Plastic grocery bags are the perfect size to line small trash cans in the bedroom and bathroom. Keep a stash of old grocery bags in an empty tissue box in your pantry or under the sink. You can easily grab one anytime you need a new garbage bag.

Create Textured Paint Surfaces

Faux finishers, take note! Many painting and glazing techniques can be achieved with the help of a recycled grocery bag. Cover a clean paint roller with a plastic bag, then roll it in paint and apply to the wall to create a textured effect, or achieve a faux leather look by taking a wadded up plastic bag to a coat of glaze to create random patterns.

Related: 13 Weirdly Awesome Ways to Paint a Room

Line a Paint Tray

Paint tray liners, the kind that can be slipped in and out of a paint tray to simplify post-painting clean-up, have become quite popular with DIYers. Convenient as they are, you don’t need a store-bought liner to achieve a mess-free paint job. Instead, line your paint tray with a plastic bag. Pour the paint into the tray, paint, and (when you’re done) remove the bag for effortless clean-up.

Sew Reusable Sandwich Wraps

Sew your own reusable sandwich wraps and you’ll not only recycle your plastic grocery bags, but avoid using plastic ziplock bags. First, fuse several layers of grocery bag plastic together by ironing them between layers of parchment paper. Then, sew your plastic sheet to a piece of cloth—the plastic side will form the liner of the wrapper. Attach some velcro and you’ll have a pocket to pack your sandwiches in that is both adorable and earth-friendly. 

Clean Up After Your Pet

You can buy doggie poop bags at the pet store, but why would you when you have a steady supply coming home from the grocery store? Tuck your plastic bags into an old fanny pack and bring it with you on walks. You’ll have a pet waste bag at your fingertips whenever you need it.

Related: 10 House Hacks Every Pet Owner Needs to Know

Construct a Mini Greenhouse

You can construct a small DIY greenhouse for propagating seedlings when you pair a plastic bag with a planter. First plant seeds in a 5-gallon bucket, or the container of your choice. Put 3 or 4 sticks into the soil and loosely place a plastic grocery bag over the top. Once you’ve added your bag, keep it in place by sealing it to the container with duct tape. Once the sprouts are large enough, remove the bag and transplant the seedlings to an outdoor garden or a sunny windowsill.