Saturday, April 14, 2007

plastic shopping bags

I decided to sort and dispose of all those plastic shopping bags I mentioned in my previous post. It was an eye-opening task; I consider myself pretty eco-conscious, but I couldn't reconcile my green efforts with the number of bags I found in my closet.

I started sorting them by size: grocery-bag-sized (and larger), or smaller bags (the kind you get at the video store or the drugstore - which is where I got mine).

About half-way through the sorting I realized I have WAY more bags than I imagined. I counted them: 121 large bags, and 42 small ones. It's only taken me seven-and-a-half months to acquire them - and I'm pretty frugal. I don't shop much. Plus I make good use of cloth bags and plastic bins whenever I shop for groceries. (Or so I thought - turns out most of the large bags are, indeed, grocery bags.)

I can't believe I have so many. Me - the eco-warrior!

I plan not to accept any more. I have plenty of cloth bags I can use when I shop. But what am I supposed to do with the ones I've already got?

There are the obvious uses:
  • re-use them in stores
  • use them as garbage bags
  • give them to a friend with a dog or a cat (for scooping poop)
  • donate them to a thrift store or a church rummage sale (which is where I think mine are going)

I figured there must be more creative uses for them, so I did an online search. has a "frugal-living" guide, and one article discusses plastic shopping bags. Reader's Digest has its own list, as does Real Simple. Or you can try your own internet search, using the keywords "uses for plastic shopping bags."

Some of my favorite ideas:

  • use them to wrap brushes or rollers if you have to stop in the middle of a painting job - they will keep the paint from drying out for up to two days
  • use them as packing material instead of Styrofoam peanuts
  • use them to hold wet things (like compact umbrellas in your purse, or towels from your gym workout)
  • use them to hold dirty laundry when you're on a trip

Some grocery stores also accept the plastic bags for recycling - so if they're full of holes and not good for anything else, don't throw them in the garbage!

copyright 2007, Michelle Lynne Goodfellow

1 comment:

Blackdove said...

Many grocery bags nowadays ARE biodegradable, although they look like plastic. Here's a nifty way to convert these grocery bags into trash bags. It's easy to do, convenient to use, and earth-friendly.