It’s no secret just how bad plastic bags can be for our planet. Most of the things wind up in landfills, and they can take hundreds of years to break down. Too many also enter our oceans, where they pose a real danger to marine life. So, do everyone a favor and don’t just throw them out with the trash. Try these wonderfully creative ways to reuse your plastic bags instead, including one particularly epic kitchen hack.
40. Protect car mirrors from ice
Scraping ice off your car mirrors on a freezing winter morning is far from fun. But you can prevent them from frosting up altogether by placing plastic bags on them overnight when temperatures are due to plummet. Just remember to remove the bags in the morning so that you can use your mirrors safely!
39. Protect fruit on trees
When fruit is becoming ripe, it’s vulnerable to insects and critters. So, to prevent hungry mouths from claiming your cherished crops, simply cover the fruit with bags before they fall from the tree. And remember to check the sacks each day, as ripened produce can quickly go bad if left out.
39. Gift bows
A lovingly crafted bow can provide the perfect finishing touch to any gift. But a lot of store-bought decorations are made from single-use plastic that ends up in the trash soon after a present is unwrapped. To avoid unnecessary waste, then, simply repurpose a colorful plastic bag into an adornment by securing several strips of plastic in the middle and fluffing it into shape.
38. Halloween decorations
Instead of buying new decorations each Halloween, why not repurpose some used plastic bags into ghoulish designs? Ghosts are particularly easy to make and are super effective. Simply stuff an inflated balloon within a white bag to form a head and use pen to decorate it with a spooky face. And when you’re done, secure your masterpiece outside your door to frighten the trick-or-treaters.
36. Clever coin purse
Even small plastic bags – such as chip packets – can be repurposed into something more useful, as this DIY coin purse hack proves. Simply take the bag and cut it into two equal rectangles. Sew three sides of the shapes together, attaching a zip to the remaining opening. And you’ll be left with the perfect little pouch for storing all those small nicknacks.
35. Makeshift shoehorn
You may think that the flimsiness of a plastic bag would render it useless as a shoehorn, but this is not the case. Placing one in the bottom of your pesky shoes will help your foot slide in much more easily. Once your soles are secured, simply pull the plastic out and place it to one side for next time. Sorted!
34. Cover paint trays
Cleaning up paint trays after every use can be a real drag. But you can save yourself time and effort just by placing a plastic bag over the receptacle before using it as normal. When you’ve finished, simply dispose of the dirty bag to leave a totally clean tray with no washing required. Easy, right?
33. Apply furniture polish
Polishing wooden furniture can often be a messy and tricky job, but a plastic bag can help the task along. Simply place one over your hand to apply the polish. Not only will the plastic help to spread the agent more easily, but it’ll also keep your fingers clean, ensuring tidying up afterwards isn’t a chore.
32. Pom-Pom decoration
Making your own decorations can be a fun and inspiring way to transform your home or event. And plastic pom-poms are an easy way to enhance any space with relatively little effort. Just cut your bag into a continuous plastic strip and fashion it into shape the same way you would with regular yarns. It’s that simple!
31. Easily move plants
Keeping plants happy on the move can be a tricky task. But a plastic bag can really help the process. All you need to do is wrap one around the roots as you transport your greenery. And in order to keep the plants extra safe, you can add some soil and water to the bag to prevent wilting. As a happy bonus, the plastic will also stop dirt from getting everywhere.
30. Seal a leaking bottle
Leaking bottles or sippy cups can be the bane of a parent’s life. But this is where plastic bags come in handy. Placing one around the seam of the receptacle and tightening the lid over it helps to create a seal that will save you from unwanted liquid messes. You’ll wish you knew this hack way sooner.
29. Make a bed mat
With a little bit of crochet know-how, it’s relatively easy to transform a heap of unwanted plastic bags into a pretty awesome bed mat. Even better, the pad will be waterproof, meaning it’s suitable for outside use. And so it’ll make a great addition to your garden furniture or any camping trip.
28. Makeshift rucksack
Why simply carry a plastic bag by the handles when you can turn it into a makeshift rucksack? Just pop your arms through the loops and place the main body of the sack on your back. The weight of the contents should then be dispersed nicely between your shoulders, making heavier items easier to bear. Recycled chic, anyone?
27. Plug gaps around the house
Gaps around pipes and air conditioner units can let in pesky drafts. But old plastic bags can be used to easily plug household cracks and holes. This will keep the wind at bay and provide some protection from water. Careful: this hack will only work for a limited time, though, and so the bags will need switching every so often.
26. Protect wiper blades
If your windshield wipers become frozen over winter, they can stop working, which isn’t ideal. The easiest way of preventing this from happening is by wrapping the blades in plastic bags whenever temperatures are expected to plummet. Just remember to take the bags off when you want to drive, and you should be good to go!
25. Homemade crinkle toy
What better way to repurpose your unwanted bags than by turning them into a toy any baby would surely love? Simply stuff the unwanted plastic into a cute fabric design of your choice and sew it safely and securely within. The material will make an unmistakable crinkle noise, which will stimulate your little one’s senses.
24. Protect packages
Why waste money on expensive packing materials when plastic bags work just as well? Simply stuff envelopes, parcels and boxes with them in order to protect items during shipment. The good thing is that you can use as many or as few as you need while giving single-use bags another useful lease of life – and helping to save the planet, too!
23. Separate wet clothes
Top travel tip: pack a few plastic bags with your gym gear or in your luggage when you go on vacation. They can be used to separate wet or sweaty clothing and swimwear from the rest of your stuff, preventing everything from becoming damp and smelly. Simply place offending items in a bag and tie securely, and you’re good to go. You can thank us later!
22. Keep your knees clean
Gardeners, this one’s for you. This hack will stop your pants getting ruined no matter how long you spend kneeling down outside. Just tie plastic bags around the knees to keep them clean and dry. The covers won’t provide much cushioning for your joints, but it should take a whole load of the mess out of weeding!
21. Shoe covers
If you have fresh kicks you want to keep clean or rugs at home you’d like to protect, plastic bags double as the perfect shoe covers. Yep, just place them over your feet and secure them at the ankles. You can keep some by the door for rainy days or carry some in your purse in case of emergencies. And festivalgoers, this hack is perfect for you.
20. Pack up toiletries
Toiletries are annoyingly prone to leaking when you’re traveling. So, to save the rest of your luggage from sticky spillages, simply place all of your lotions and potions into a plastic bag and secure it tight. If anything does leak, the mess will be contained within the sack, keeping your clothes nice and clean. Result!
19. DIY storage pots
It’s easy to transform unwanted plastic bags into cute, colorful storage containers. Simply cut the sack into strips before ironing onto a piece of cardboard that you’ve wrapped around a paper cup. The plastic will melt together to form the shape of a pot, which can be used to store pens or other small items.
18. Cover surfaces
One of the easiest ways to recycle old plastic bags is by using them to protect surfaces around the home. Cut them up and tape them to counters and tabletops before engaging in messy tasks like crafts or cooking. When you’re done, simply remove the bags and dispose of them. Alternatively, you can wipe the plastic down with a damp cloth so you can use it again. No more mess!
17. Upcycled jump rope
Keep kids occupied by encouraging them to make their own upcycled jump rope using nothing but plastic bags. Simply tie strips of plastic end-to-end until you reach your desired length. Repeat the process a few times, then braid all the strands together to create a thicker, stronger rope.
16. Make a kite
Kites provide fun for all the family, and they’re even better when they keep plastic out of landfills. Make yours by forming a cross with two straws and tacking that to your chosen bag. After that, fold in each corner to create the traditional kite shape, add a string and fly to your heart’s content.
15. Gift wrap
Rather than splashing out on new wrapping paper, save your prettiest plastic bags for the task. Patterned or frosted varieties make lovely-looking gifts. And you can even decorate the packaging further with glitter, ribbons or stamps. Plus, your friends will be majorly impressed by your no-waste approach to gifting!
14. Protect valuables
If you don’t have bubble wrap to hand, try wrapping delicate items in plastic bags for storage or transportation. The material should provide adequate cushioning to protect goods against knocks, especially if you’re piling them on top of one another. Just make sure you use enough bags to provide a buffer.
13. Make a waterproof pillow
Believe it or not, plastic bags make surprisingly comfortable stuffing. Simply fill a pillow case with as many scrunched up bags as will fit and see for yourself. And with the right kind of fabric, you can make a completely waterproof cushion, which would make the perfect garden accessory.
12. Roll out dough
Rolling out dough can be a messy process. That’s because the stuff often sticks to your countertop and is a real pain to remove. Instead of using up all your flour next time, try lining your worktop with a plastic bag or two. And when you’re finished, you can even use the bags to store your freshly prepared dough. What’s not to love?
11. Make a pet bed
Did you know that plastic bags make the perfect pet bed filling? Not only are they surprisingly comfortable, but they’re also easy to wash. Unlike regular stuffing, they can be wiped or hosed down in order to keep them clean. Plus, they won’t absorb pet odors, helping to keep your home smelling fresh.
10. Seal paint cans
Once you’ve cracked the lid of a paint can, it can be hard to shut it properly again. But if the container isn’t airtight, its contents can spoil or dry out. Awesome décor hack alert: put a plastic bag over your open paint can before pounding the lid into place. This will seal the container and keep your emulsion longer.
9. Line freezer shelves
Cleaning refrigerator or freezer shelves can be a real drag. So to save you from the arduous task simply cover them in plastic bags. When these become dirty, just remove them and wipe them clean or discard. You can do this as regularly as you wish, swapping bags for new as and when they’re needed.
8. Keep your hallway clean
Given all the comings and goings that take place in an entrance hall, it can be difficult to stay on top of mess. But keeping some plastic bags handy near the door can make life a little bit easier. That way, you’re ready to intercept any muddy shoes or soaking umbrellas – before it’s too late.
7. Help shoes and purses keep their shape
When unused shoes and bags are left lying around, they can easily lose their shape. So to keep them looking their best, stuff them with plastic bags before storing them away to help them hold their form. Just remember to remove the filler when you want to use them again…
6. Line litter trays
As any cat owner will know, cleaning up a kitty’s litter box can be far from pleasant. So, instead of scooping out the contents and risking making a mess, use a plastic liner. You can buy specialist ones at the pet store, sure, but plastic bags work just as well. And they won’t break the bank!
5. DIY photography reflector
Any photographer will tell you that when it comes to capturing that perfect shot, the right lighting is vital. But to create the perfect conditions, there’s no need to splash the cash on a fancy reflector. Instead, use a white plastic bag filled with air to easily boost brightness and lift shadows at a fraction of the cost.
4. Toy parachutes
What better way to inject a little bit of adventure into playtime than with the addition of a parachute for your toys? To make your own, simply cut a circle out of a plastic bag, use some string to attach your action figure of choice and let gravity work its magic! Hopefully, it should float softly to the ground in true paratrooper fashion.
3. Make a basket
It’s easy to craft plastic bags into something much more practical and pretty – like one of these adorable DIY baskets. They’re made by braiding strips of plastic together until you have one long yarn. You can then twist this into shape, first forming a base and then working upwards to make the sides, adding stitches as you go to hold its form.
2. Protect plants from frost
To save your flowers and plants over winter, cover pots with plastic bags to prevent your greenery from freezing. Just place the sacks over the containers before temperatures drop, and they’ll act as little blankets. Top tip: it’s best to place a layer of cloth (like a sheet or rag) between the bag and your plant, as the plastic could damage it.
1. Bag dispenser
If you have trouble storing all your plastic bags, consider making one of these awesome DIY dispensers. To do so, gather all your old bags and fold them in half lengthways. Next, arrange them in a line with each bag’s handles overlapping the bottom of the bag beside it. Starting from the front, tightly roll the sacks up into a tube, and place them in a suitable container to dispense.