Upcycling Plastic Bags

I remember when plastic bags first came out for regular use at the grocery store.

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What you used to cram into One paper bag, you would now load into FOUR plastic bags.  Somehow, it didn’t seem right, but they had handles and were stored in much smaller spaces at home, so you went along with the change not even thinking about what it all meant to the environment!!

But a month later, you were Overwhelmed with these Plastic Bags!!  So, you started stuffing them into other plastic bags!  And then someone invented a cloth sock like thing that you could pull out a plastic bag from the bottom and use it for kitty litter or garbage or wrapping wet paintbrushes.  Suddenly, you had this huge need to use these plastic bags for everything!!! YAY!! But as other stores began to use these plastic bags as well, it became overwhelming again.

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Well, I finally had ENOUGH!!! As an Artist and an Environmentalist, I needed to find a new use for the insane amount of these bags in my life!!! I needed to find great upcycling ideas for all the plastic bags I was storing.  At the time of my first great Genius Idea, I was teaching children’s Theatre Classes.  A common exercise in theater is learning how to use your arms to demonstrate conversation.  I began Upcycling these plastic bags to make “feather” boas so that the children could sling them over their arms and hold tight to the ends with their hands and every time they would speak, they would flail around the boas!! It worked miracles for Bigger Than Life Characters!!!

blue boa and cuffsblack plastic boa 1

My next take at Upcycling those plastic bags was taking the bags and stuffing them into more bags and kept stuffing until I had enough to stuff a cloth stool I had sewn together!!  They were a kind of “bean bag chair”,

Only, they were stuffed with bags!!!

 claires stool1

Now, here is a list of other uses for these ever present plastic bags.  I have gotten these ideas not only from personal experience and from conversations with friends (especially those with children) but from websites far and wide!!


1.  Put plastic bags in bathroom trashcans for use as a bag liner.  Keep extras in the bottom for replacements.)

2. When you ball them up they can be used as mattress and/or pillow stuffing.

3. If you have a broken arm or leg, you can use plastic bags to help keep the cast dry while taking a bath or shower.

4. Use for holding dirty diapers.

5. Instead of plastic gloves for picking up dog and cat poo, you can cover your hand in a plastic bag!!.

6. Use one plastic bag for aspirin and vitamin bottles and another for your makeup when traveling.

7. Use them in your luggage to keep your wet clothes separate from your dry clothes, and your clean clothes from dirty ones.

8. Wrap shoes in plastic bags when traveling.  It keeps them away from your clean clothes!.

9. Use them as a lunch sack.

10. If a jar is leaking in the fridge, you can use a section of plastic bag as a seal prior to screwing a cap onto the container.

11. Plastic grocery bags can be used as packing material for fragile items.

12. Wrap each Christmas ball in a plastic bag as extra protection.

13. To prevent messy leaks when defrosting meat, place the meat in a plastic bag, along with a paper towel.934e2d95225303d5a97ec5055fd88d9a

14. For cars that are parked in the open, you can place plastic bags over the side mirrors and wiper blades to keep them free from snow or freezing rain.

15. Painting a large room and need to take a break? Wrap your paintbrushes and rollers in plastic bags to keep them from drying out so fast.

17. Use for storing old rags.

18. Use them as a non-stick surface for rolling out dough.

19. Use to throw out food items that have gone bad!  Tied tightly enough, you won’t smell a thing!!

20. Put a plastic bag and a paper towel at the bottom of the veggie drawer in the frig.  When it is time to clean the drawer, just pick them up and toss them out and replace.
21. Stuff several plastic bags into each other and use on a hanger to keep shoulders of a jacket or coat in shape.

22. When putting in flowerbeds, before you lay dirt, put a layer of plastic bags then put dirt on top.  This keeps the weeds away!

23. You can also use them as a makeshift shoehorn.

24. Plastic bags can be used to coat chicken or beef with flour prior to cooking.

25. While you’re in the kitchen, keep in mind that you can wrap your homemade bread in a plastic grocery bag. Those who know say the bag will help keep the bread fresh while still allowing it to breathe.

26 For breadcrumbs, you can also use them to crush crackers without making a mess.

27. When you’re working the garden, try wrapping some plastic bags around your knees to not only keep them dry and clean, but also provide a little extra cushiony comfort.

28. Put a wet umbrella inside a plastic bag before carrying it into the house.

29. Plastic bags are often used as emergency rain gear. plasticbagcoat

30. You can also use them to bring home your wet clothes.

31. Hopefully, you’ve also kept a few extra plastic bags in the car and near your home’s front door for storing those muddy shoes.

32. Keep plastic bags in your car for garbage or for collecting shells on the beach.

33. You can use plastic bags to store Christmas wreaths and decorations.

34. When traveling, store perfumes and other toiletries in a plastic bag to prevent leaks from making a mess.

35. Got a son or nephew who owns a G.I. Joe? Plastic grocery bags make great parachutes for them!

36. And you can loop multiple plastic bags together to make a plastic rope too.

37. Cut them into strips and crochet them into rugs!

38. Transport unpotted plants in them.

39.  Seal a Paint Can When you're done painting, slip a plastic bag over the paint can lid before replacing it so that dirt or flakes of dried paint on the lid's underside won't fall into the liquid.

AND………I just had to add this whole site for ideas!! They are so cute and clever!! Recycling – Upcycling – Reusing can be sooooooooo much FUN!!!!



 Plastic Bag Crafts

We all know how bad plastic grocery bags are for the environment. Research suggests that 500 billion to 1 trillion plastic bags are consumed worldwide each year. The city of San Francisco will be first city in the U.S. to take a stand and ban plastic bags in large markets and pharmacies.
But what can a crafter do to help the cause? Round up the bags you do have laying around in the house or collect them from neighbors and friends to start reusing plastic bags for your next craft project. Here’s a post rounding up some of the best projects we’ve seen around. Sew ‘em up, cut them into strips for knitting or crochet — the possibilities are endless!

HOW-TO – Make Plastic Bag Yarn
Helle of Gooseflesh who makes amazing crochet sea creatures has a tutorial up on how to make your own yarn from plastic bags. – Link.


Plastic Grocery Bags into Knit 1950′s Outfit
Cathy Kasdan of Clevland, OH and I were emailing back and forth a bit yesterday afternoon regarding my post on the knitting machines. Then my jaw dropped when Cathy sent me this beautiful photo of her finished thesis project — a handknit 1950′s style ensemble made from plastic grocery bags. Cathy is currently finishing up a Master’s in textiles at Kent State University and her thesis is based on consumer culture. See more photos here. – Link.

Knit Plastic Tote Bag
Ravelry has a pattern by Katherine Vaughan showing you how to knit up this handy tote. Link.

Knit Plastic Bag
By cutting up strips of plastic, MelGiggles on Craftster knit up this handy tote bag that’s perfect for the beach or pool. Link.

Tips for Crocheting with Plastic Bags
Cindy of My Recycled Bags sells her cool crochet bags and products made from recycled plastic bags. The site is full of information and resources about crochet and other crafted recycled bags. Her tips open up your creativity to incorporate plastic bag as yarn projects for almost anything. Cindy says, “Speaking as a crochet crafter, I have found that many existing patterns can be made using recycled plastic bags as yarn. Just remember to use a large hook and check your gauge on the product. Purses, rugs, placemats, and totes are normally excellent products using plastic bags.” – Link.

Fusing Plastic Bag Tutorial
Amanda at Etsy Labs has a great tutorial showing you how to fuse plastic bags so you can refashion those plastic grocery bags into cooler looking totes! – Link.

Fused Plastic Bag Tote with Octopus
This beautiful fused plastic bag tote complete with octopus design is made by Betz White who’s been doing some amazing experiments with plastic grocery bag fusing. It’s been fun to see the progress Betz has been making and TreeHugger has taken notice too with a write up about her bags as well. – Link.

Extreme Plastic Bag Makeover
Jmesdiylounge on Craftster got inspired by fusing plastic bags and created her own collage design complete with adding a recycled shoe lace for the trim and handles. Link.


Plastic Bag Dress
Made by mleak on Flickr the dress was fused together to form fabric and then sewn together.- Link.


Plastic Bag Raincoat
Pen Felt on Etsy collected plastic bags from trash cans for 1 week to make the material for her plastic bag raincoat. Link. (pictured next to the list above)

Plastic Bag Jewelry by Anna Roebuck
Treehugger has a great story about artist Anna Roebuck who makes jewelry from plastic shopping bags. The bags and other materials are layered, collaged together and bonded by fusing. – Link.

Plastic Bag Headband
Make yourself a cute headband by fusing plastic bags like panic_paislee on Craftster. Link.

Plastic Bag for Cosmetics
Jamiewatchthestars on Craftster sewed up this cute cosmetics pouch all made from plastic bags. Link.


Until Next Time!!

Keep on Junkin’


Amy's Heart

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