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BellaOnline's Frugal Living Editor

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Ten Ways to Re-Use and Re-cycle Plastic Bags


Paper or plastic? I no longer feel any guilt for taking a plastic bag from the grocery store, as I use the heck out of all of them, then recycle what's left over.

Learn ten easy and smart ways to reuse those plastic grocery bags before recycling them for good:

1)My favorite useful thing to do with the bags is line trash containers throughout the house. I use them in the kitchen, office, bathroom and garage. They hold trash and recyclables, and also store things that are to be donated to Goodwill. I actually never buy trash bags anymore, crossing an entire purchase off my to-buy list forever. I love free!

2) Take them on the road. I use them as trash bins in the car and take a bunch of them with me when camping. I keep a small stash of them in the car's console for collecting cans I find from the sides of the road, too. These go in my recycle bins and I sell the cans at scrap recyclers. This way I clean up my community and make a few dollars doing it!

3) Use as plant ties in the garden. I've used them to gently tie tomato and grape vines to stakes. They hold securely without digging into the tender stems of your garden plants. Be creative about making ties out of bags for anything, really, inside the house and out.

4) Pick up poop. I use them when taking the dogs for a walk and for scooping the nuggets from the cat litter box. I've used them as hand gloves when cleaning out the cages of pocket pets. To pick up a poop, stick your hand in them and use them like a glove, then remove your hand while pulling the bag inside out. Tie it off and plop in the trash. You never have to touch anything unsavory. Along these lines, toss a bunch in diaper bags for...well, you know...

5) Temporary food storage. Keep in mind these bags are fragile and not intended for long term food storage. But to grab a lunch or snack and go, they work just fine. Tuck your sammies, juice boxes, cookies, fruit and a yogurt, and head out the door. Or whatever you eat! It may not look gourmet, but you can squish the bag down into your purse or carryall after you've eaten, and reuse the bag until it falls apart. Or if you use it for the kids, they can just toss it, and not have to worry about remembering to take their lunch box home. It's a whole lot cheaper than buying paper bags, and they still get a second use.

6) Holding wet clothes. When heading to the beach or the lake, grab a bunch - you will need them. Put all the wet, sandy clothes into bags, tie off, and slide cleanly in your beach totes. Don't forget to take them out when you get home so they don't start molding away. :)

7) You can bring them back to the grocery store for groceries until they blow out. Some grocery stores give you five cents back for every bag you reuse. When they tear, just recycle the plastic in the bins they provide. Double bag to make them last longer.

8) Scrunch up and use as filler for packing - in mail packages, or for moving boxes. Lightweight, cushioning, and freely available.

9) Save them to hand out readily at garage sales. When people make their purchases, you can thoughtfully bag things up. I always appreciate a yard sale with nice touches like this.

10) Some crafty people crochet plastic bags into totes, braided rugs and all kinds of useful things. I think one could design very unique projects using different kinds of grocery bags. I've seen plastic bags come in white, yellow, beige, blue and clear. Their lettering comes in different colors too, for subtle accents. Making a pattern could be a fun activity! And I think a braided rug could be super on the porch, in an outdoor room, in front of the potting cabinet, or mixed in with any eclectic decor.

There's hundreds of uses for the humble plastic bag. The important point to remember is they are FREE, plentiful and versatile. That you can reuse them is a great selling point in my eyes. Be frugal and green! Now you can proudly choose plastic at the checkout line. :)

Amazon.com has a few more ideas for bag reuse:

- The Bag Book: Over 500 Great Uses and Reuses for Paper, Plastic and Other Bags to Organize and Enhance Your Life (Lansky, Vicki)
- Yankee Magazine Vinegar, Duct Tape, Milk Jugs & More: 1,001 Ingenious Ways to Use Common Household Items
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Content copyright © 2013 by Jill Florio. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Jill Florio. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Jill Florio for details.

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