Every passing minute on earth includes the use of two million new plastic bags. They clog the landfills, drift in the oceans and generally mess things up for wildlife and us. Plastic bags do not rot or break down easily. They can actually take up to 500 years to disintegrate!
Although it’s possible to recycle plastic bags, the process does take resources to complete. Reducing the number you use to begin with and re-using the ones you have can make a difference. Remember, plastic bags are more than just the handled ones you get at the supermarket. Every bag of frozen vegetables, a new TV and a packet of screws can come in plastic bags too.
Reuse Plastic Bags as Bags
Let’s consider one of the most obvious solutions. Use plastic bags over and over again as bags! Just because they carried one thing one time doesn’t mean they can’t hold something else. A standard plastic grocery bag can get reused to carry vegetables in from the garden, sweaty clothes home from the gym or craft supplies to the kitchen table.
Since plastic bags are waterproof, they are perfect for protecting everything from books on the way back to the library to outdoor furniture cushions. Even the smallest plastic bags can hold or protect things more than once. Save the screws for a project in a tiny bag you staple shut. The packaging from frozen vegetables or snacks can be used to easily freeze leftovers.
Reuse Plastic as Other Things
Besides carrying and holding things, plastic bags have plenty of other uses. Here are a few of my favorites.
Slip one over your car mirrors to prevent snow or ice build-up in the winter. They create a perfect barrier for any moisture as well. You could even slit the sides of large bags and cover your whole windshield.
Large bags can also protect tables from paint, glue and other messes during craft time. They make clean up easier and can be used again and again. You can even cut a hole in the bottom and slip them over your kids’ shirts to keep paint splatters off.
Keep your hands clean while using everything from paint to bug spray to oil for baking dishes. Instead of creating more waste by buying plastic or rubber gloves, simply use plastic bags. Use a rubber band around your arm to keep them in place.
If you want to show off your green, earth-friendly style, you can make plastic strips from the bags and either crochet or weave them to create a sturdy and attractive welcome mat, tote bag to carry purchases or even toys and decorations.
Recycling is always a great way to help the earth and make better use of resources. By reducing the amount of material that ends up in the process, we help more. Since plastic bags are such a problem, we need to adopt many solutions. The shift toward reusable tote bags while shopping helps, but there are still so many plastic bags being used and thrown out every day. Before you toss one, consider these ideas I mentioned or brainstorm your own.