Q: How can I use up all my plastic grocery bags?
A: There are many ways to use up grocery bags around the house. You should enjoy them now, however, because they won’t be around much longer.
Plastic grocery bags have most recently been banned in California. They are also banned in China, Bangladesh, Rwanda, and numerous other countries and localities. as of June 1. They are being banned to eliminate ‘white pollution’, as the Chinese call it, as these plastic bags litter the streets. Shoppers will instead have to purchase sturdier plastic bags or bring their own bags (preferably cloth) and baskets to shop with.
As far as pollution is concerned, this is a great idea, but if you are forgetful like me you still use them, as you forget to bring your cloth bags when you go shopping. Some of us who are extremely thrifty also depend on these bags to save money as we recycle them and use them for other uses in the home. Here are all of the things you can do with those grocery store plastic bags, until they are banned for us too.
Car garbage disposal: I like to keep a couple of plastic bags in my car so that when I find myself waiting for my kids, I can do a quick car cleanup. I grab bag, jump out and fill it with as much garbage as possible from the floor of the car and the backseat that the kids tend to trash. When we get home, I just toss the full bag into the garbage bin.
Chest freezer: So that I don’t have to dig through my chest freezer to find a particular item, I like to keep like things in grocery bags within the chest freezer. If I have all of the ground beef in the same bag, I won’t have to spend 10 minutes digging under the 20 pounds of chicken breasts I just purchased.
Diaper disposal: While I do not worry about diapers anymore, I know many people who do. I have found that wrapping a soiled diaper in two plastic bags and disposing of it immediately is much more effective than a diaper genie. Even if you cannot take the dirty diaper outside, wrap it in two plastic bags and placing it in the regular garbage. (If you are expecting, instead of requesting a diaper genie that will cost you a fortune in specialized bags, you can just let a few people know you will take their excess grocery store bags and it will not cost anyone a cent!
Disposable protective gloves: While you cannot use plastic bags on your hands while you are washing dishes, you can protect your hand while you are picking up things you would rather not touch. For me, those gross things would be fur balls and dog poop.
Hair conditioning: Whenever the hair conditioner bottle says to cover and wait, I grab a disposable plastic bag and put it on my head under a towel. It works great and saves the $1.00 that disposable bags usually cost.
Line your trash can: Get a trash bin specifically made to utilize plastic grocery bags. The one in this photo has hooks on it that hold the bags in place.
Litter clean up: If you like to pick up litter on your walks, keep a couple of plastic bags with you so you have someplace to put the litter. An extra plastic bag will protect your hand from dirty objects.
Mailing supplies: To cushion fragile items for shipping, I like to ball up plastic grocery bags and place them around the object. To protect clothing and other fabric based items for shipping, I like to wrap them in a few layers of plastic bags just in case the packaging gets wet.
Packing a suitcase: Use plastic bags to protect your clothing items from shoes and toiletries. I also put an a few empty ones to put soiled clothes in for the return trip. (But don’t put them in your luggage if you are going to a country that bans the bags. They will confiscate them.
Packing fragile items. Plastic bags come in handy when packing glasses for a move or putting Christmas ornaments away.
Paintbrush cover: Whenever I am doing a large paint project that I need to take a break from or finish the next day, I wrap the paintbrush, roller, and tray in plastic bags so that it does not dry out and I can pick back up where I left off. You can leave a paint project for a day or two when you do it properly. Just be sure there are no holes in the plastic.
Pillow filling: If you make a throw pillow and realize you do not have enough stuffing, you can use the stuffing that you do have, and then make a hole in the center, which you can further fill with plastic bags.
Plant protection: Plastic bags can be used to protect small plants from frost at night. They can also be cut in strips and used to tie plants to a stake.
Playthings: My children find numerous ways to entertain themselves with plastic bags (not recommended for children under 4) Their favorite use is to make parachutes for army men and action figures which they can drop from the upstairs rail.
Quick rope: If I ever find myself in need of a rope, I tie together a string of grocery store plastic bags. Besides holding down the item just fine, plastic bags are easier to tie than rope.
Rock garden: To prevent weeds from growing up through your rock garden, put down a layer of plastic bags or paper before placing your rocks.
School lunches: Sometimes school lunch containers leak and can ruin schoolwork. If you have found this is a problem, you can place the containers in plastic bags for extra insurance. (At least until you can purchase new lunch containers)
Shoe covers: When I need to go in the garden and know my shoes are about to be destroyed, I put the shoes in the plastic bag and tuck it into the shoe opening. Of course, you need to tread lightly as you can slip if you want to walk down a hill.
Shoe storage: When putting shoes away that will not be worn for several months, such as boots or sandals, I like to put them in plastic bags to prevent dust from accumulating on them. This is especially important with suede of fabric shoes.
Snow protection: If you live somewhere where it snows and freezes, you can save time in the morning if you cover you side windows with plastic to prevent snow and ice from sticking to them.
Finally, get used to using canvas bags. the way things are going, those plastic grocery bags won’t be around much longer!