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Homestead Diva: New Ways To Recycle Plastic Bags

Updated on February 4, 2013
Marye Audet profile image

Marye Audet-White is an internationally known food writer, food editor for Texas Living, cookbook author, and food blogger.

Plastic Shopping Bags Last For Centuries

Well, THAT'S not new news. Plastic shopping bags are forever. Well now they can also be a girl's best friend.

We'll get to that in a minute.

Plastic bags are handed out by the millions and billions every day. Every kind of shop from grocers to upscale outfitters have their logos printed on a flimsy plastic bag, which needs to be doubled to carry anything heavier than a dust mite. What do you do with them once you get them home?

Some stores have areas where you can recycle them. I used to do this until one day I happened to catch an employee of the store dumping the recycle bin into the dumpster.

Some people use them as small wastebasket bags, which really only delays the inevitable.

However some people have figured out how to create fashinista nirvana. Yep. Plastic bags are a fashion statement.

Plastic Bag Raincoat by Pen Felt of etsy
Plastic Bag Raincoat by Pen Felt of etsy

Fun Fashions

Take a look at this raincoat. It was created out of plastic shopping bags. I could go for a raincoat like that, in a size 10 please.

Searching around the Internet I have seen everything from plastic bag yarn to plastic bag jewelry to plastic bag fashions. Imagine the joy on a teen girl's face when she was presented with a purse created out of Old Navy shopping bags. Imagine making a grocery tote bag with a combination of Whole Foods, Wild Oats, and Kroger bags, or upscale gourmet shop bags. You could make a dog coat from PetSmart bags or a shower curtain from Bath and Body Works bags.

It's endless. The ideas are mind boggling.

Photo Courtesy of Amanda at Etsy
Photo Courtesy of Amanda at Etsy

So How Is It Done?

You will definitely want to visit the tutorials to get a real understanding of this process. Basically you open the bags up at the seams and cut of the bottom so you have a flat piece of plastic. You do the same with another bag.And another. IN fact you need between six and eight layers of plastic.

Now, sandwich the layers in between two pieces of freezer paper, and apply heat from an iron. Keep the iron moving and flip the whole thing after fifteen seconds and repeat on the other side.

Hopefully when you remove the freezer paper you will have a durable plastic fabric that you can use for various crafts.

Cathy Kasdan created this 50's ensemble, knit from plastic bags.
Cathy Kasdan created this 50's ensemble, knit from plastic bags.

So Many Bags, So Little TIme

I can all ready think of things to be made around here: tents, horse blankets, wallets. I bet you could even make some pretty weatherproof mittens with them, from bags from a sporting goods store.

Imagine the new opportunity on eBay as people clamor for more and more plastic bags to the point that they become either shopping maniacs or trash pickers! Try some of these. I am going to. In fact, the things I have in my mind to do first are:

1. place-mats

2. wallet

3. purse for my granddaughter

4. re-usable grocery bags

So, do you have any ideas? I just think this is an amazing craft!

Video Tutorial


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    • powerofknowledge1 profile image

      powerofknowledge1 6 years ago

      Great Ideas!

    • profile image

      Tarah_ 7 years ago

      Over the past few months I have made three handbags out of plastic bags. It makes a lot of sense to me when plastic bags are still being handed out in many places that I visit. I've thought of making place mats as well but right now I'm still fascinated with making handbags.

    • profile image

      recyclable plastic bags 7 years ago

      However, there are companies who specialize in making these bags, and not just the recyclable plastic bags

      . Bags made of vinyl, polypropylene, paper, and plastic can often be found at the same place.

    • SusanAdele profile image

      SusanAdele 8 years ago

      Great Ideas!

    • connecttoheaven profile image

      connecttoheaven 8 years ago from oregon

      I have melted some bags together with the iron and it works! I needed your article to remind me that I can make something with it now. It's very cool.

    • judydianne profile image

      judydianne 8 years ago from Palm Harbor, FL

      My grandma used to crochet bread wrappers into rugs. These are great ideas in your hub. Thanks for sharing!

    • profile image

      Maya 9 years ago

      More info!!! I need it for my science fair project!

    • sciencewithme profile image

      sciencewithme 9 years ago

      That is actually a really cute idea. My daughter has a purse made from juice pouches, and her best friend used plastic shopping bags from her favorite mall stores to "paper" her room walls.

    • save-cash-online profile image

      save-cash-online 9 years ago from Phoenix

      I think these things can be made to be really hip...or really tacky. It takes an artist to make them a fashion statement...and I think it's great. I would buy something if it looked trendy and cool....absolutely! Thanks for the really neat hub.

    • AnneMH profile image

      AnneMH 9 years ago from Centennial Colorado

      I have done 4 rugs now by using plastic bags as crochet material with yarn mixed. It is labor intensive and really pushed me to focus on bringing my re-usable bags back to the store. I love my rugs, I gave one to my mom and one to my sister, but I don't have time to recycle them that way right now.

    • profile image

      50.CAl 9 years ago

      Yo people are weird!! Who wld do dat

    • Lgali profile image

      Lgali 9 years ago

      very creative!

    • profile image

      speedsking 9 years ago from Seattle

      nice hub

    • midnightbliss profile image

      Haydee Anderson 9 years ago from Hermosa Beach

      cool and creative ideas on how to recycle plastic bags.

    • profile image

      Raen 9 years ago

      Cool idea, I love finding new ways to recycle, but I wouldn't try it before addressing a couple concerns:

      1. What vapors are released by heating these bags with an iron??

      2. How do you clean these? Wash them in a sink?

      Call me selfish, but the health and safety of myself and my family is my first priority.

    • profile image

      Patricia 9 years ago

      OMG that is really neat!!

    • profile image

      Trix 9 years ago

      Wicked ideas and so fun to do!

    • Marye Audet profile image

      Marye Audet 10 years ago from Lancaster, Texas

      I know..I keep looking at this thinking now, if we could only leanr to buikld solar panels from milk cartons..


    • Marye Audet profile image

      Marye Audet 10 years ago from Lancaster, Texas

    • profile image

      Kimberly 10 years ago

      Such a neat idea!! And so...GREEN! :)

    • profile image

      dafla 10 years ago

      This is way too cool! I have some great ideas for Christmas gifts now!

    • profile image

      Show Me 10 years ago

      Pretyy good use of trash. One mans er...womans trash is anothers treasure. Waste not want no. I have a friend at work who has a bag she keeps her headset and other things in that she uses at the board during work and it's loaded down with stuff and heavy. The bags been holding up for a couple of years with daily wear and tear. Its made from crocheted strips of plastic bags. Waste not want not.

    • profile image

      COCO 10 years ago

      Sorry.....not cool.......give me cotton anytime

    • Angela Harris profile image

      Angela Harris 10 years ago from Around the USA

      This is such a cool idea!

    • cgull8m profile image

      cgull8m 10 years ago from North Carolina

      That is awesome, they find ingenious ways to recycle plastic bags. Well done.

    • Isabella Snow profile image

      Isabella Snow 10 years ago

      Wow - very creative!

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 10 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      Fantastic! - a raincoat of plastic bags - that's very smart.