How to Reuse Paper Bags
Multifunctional Paper Bags
What do you do with paper bags? Toss them into garbage? Recycle? Upcycle? Reuse? Renew?
The obvious first option is to reuse them for your groceries and other goods. They likely won't hold up for as many reuses as the plastic bags, but remember even one reuse is better than none.
On this page, you'll find few background informations about paper bags, as well as many tips how to use them in your gardening, home improvement and craft projects, both for kids and adults.
Invention And Milestones
In 1852 Francis Wolle patented in the United States, and later in France and England, a machine that he devised for making paper bags.
It was the first of its kind, and covers the fundamental principle of the many similar machines that are now used.
--1852 Francis Wolle invents and patents paper bag machine.
--1869 Wolle and his brother and other paper bag makers found Union Paper Bag Machine Company.
--1870 Margret Knight invents a device to cut, fold and paste paper bag bottoms
--1871 Charles Annon files patent application similar to Knight's design
--1871 Knight, filed a patent interference suit against Annan.and the court rules in her favor
--1872 132,890 (US) issued November 12, 1872 to Charles Annan for paper bag machine
--1883 Charles Stilwell awarded patent for making Square-Bottom Paper Bag w/ pleated sides
--1890 William Purvis awarded a patent for an improved paper bag machine
--1891 Purvis sells patent license to Union Paper Bag Machine Co., now part of International Paper
Did You Know?
Facts about paper bags
* There are few things simpler and more functional than the paper bag.
* Americans use them at the rate of 40 billion a year.
* 1977 The plastic grocery bag is introduced to the supermarket industry as an alternative to paper sacks.
* 1982 Kroger and Safeway start to replace traditional craft sacks with polyethylene "t-shirt" bags.
* The Union Bag & Paper Corporation operates the largest mill, near Savannah, Georgia, of its kind in the world. Into it, each year, go over a million cords of long-fibered Southern pine. Out of it come 35,000,000 paper bags per day -- 9 billion per year 250 bags for each family in the United States.
Facts About the Environmental Impact... - ...of the paper industry published by the Environmental Paper Network
- Forests store 50% of the world's terrestrial carbon. (In other words, they are awfully important "carbon sinks" that hold onto pollution that would otherwise lead to global warming.)
- Half the world's forests have already been cleared or burned, and 80% of what's left has been seriously degraded.
- 42% of the industrial wood harvest is used to make paper.
- The paper industry is the 4th largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions among United States manufacturing industries, and contributes 9% of the manufacturing sector's carbon emissions.
- Paper accounts for 25% of landfill waste (and one third of municipal landfill waste).
- Municipal landfills account for one third of human-related methane emissions (and methane is 23-times more potent a greenhouse gas than is carbon dioxide).
- If the United States cut office paper use by just 10% it would prevent the emission of 1.6 million tons of greenhouse gases -- the equivalent of taking 280,000 cars off the road.
- Compared to using virgin wood, paper made with 100% recycled content uses 44% less energy, produces 38% less greenhouse gas emissions, 41% less particulate emissions, 50% less wastewater, 49% less solid waste and -- of course -- 100% less wood.
- In 2003, only 48.3% of office paper was recovered for recycling.
- Recovered paper accounts for 37% of the U.S. pulp supply.
- Printing and writing papers use the least amount of recycled content -- just 6%. Tissues use the most, at 45%, and newsprint is not far behind, at 32%.
- Demand for recycled paper will exceed supply by 1.5 million tons of recycled pulp per year within 10 years.
- While the paper industry invests in new recycled newsprint and paper packaging plants in the developing world, almost none of the new printing and writing paper mills use recycled content.
- China, India and the rest of Asia are the fastest growing per-capita users of paper, but they still rank far behind Eastern Europe and Latin America (about 100 pounds per person per year), Australia (about 300 pounds per person per year) and Western Europe (more than 400 pounds per person per year).
- The Forest Stewardship Council's certification of sustainable forestry practices is growing, with 50% of the paper product market share and 226 million acres accounted for. Advocates say the demand for recycled paper and sustainably harvested pulp from consumers, advertisers, magazine makers and other users of paper will yield the fastest reforms of the industry.
Use Paper Bags to Dust Off MopsDust mops make it a breeze to get up the dust balls and pet hair around your home, but how do you get the stuff off your mop? Place a large paper bag over the mop head; use a piece of string or a rubber band to keep it from slipping off. Now give it several good shakes (a few gentle bumps wouldn't hurt either). Lay the mop on its side for a few minutes to let the dust in the bag settle. Then carefully remove the bag for easy disposal of your dusty dirt.
Remove Candle Wax With Paper BagPlace a piece of a paper bagover the wax. Get out your iron and run it over the bag a few times. The heat melts the wax and the bag soaks it up. Just be careful not to use a bag that has printing on it or the dye may run. Move the bag around (or use another bag) to expose a fresh piece of paper to the stain as the wax is absorbed.
True Value, Bright Green, Reusable, Shopping Bag, 100% Polypropylene, True Value & Greener Options Logos Printed On Both Sides Of The Bag. They Measure 14" Tall, 12" Wide & 8" Deep With Two Handles & A Bottom Stiffener So The Bag Will Stand Up, Each Bag
Remove Wax from ClothingTry freezing the pants overnight (place in a plastic bag then toss in the freezer). The next day chip off the frozen wax, as much of it as you can without damaging fabric fibers. Then take a brown paper bag (a lunch bag size will do), open it up and lay it over the wax stain. Take a hot iron and press on top of the brown paper, it will melt the wax and lift it onto the paper bag. You should probably wait for the pants to return to room temp before doing that. If you have to 'hot press' a few times, make sure to move the bag each time so you're only pressing a clean part of the bag. You don't want to melt the wax back onto the pants.
Clean Artificial FlowersAuthentic silk flowers are actually pretty rare these days; most are now made of nylon or some other man-made material. But regardless of whether they're silk or something else, you can easily freshen them up by placing them in a paper bag with 1/4 cup salt. Give the bag a few gentle shakes, and your flowers will emerge as clean as the day you purchased them.
Carry Your Laundry in Paper BagIf your laundry basket is already overflowing, or (gasp!) the plastic handle suddenly gives out, you can always use a sturdy shopping bag to pick up the slack. A bag with handles will probably make the job easier, but any large bag will do in a pinch. Just be sure your laundry is completely dry before using the bag on the return trip. Otherwise, your freshly cleaned clothes could wind up under your feet.
The Paper Bag Princess
Some of the best children's books ever written have been about girls -- like The Paper Bag Princess.
Paper Bags Used to Cover TextbooksHelping your children make book covers for their textbooks isn't only fun, it's also a subtle way to teach kids to respect public property. And few materials rival a paper bag when it comes to making a rugged book cover. First, cut the bag along its seams to make it a flat, wide rectangle, then place the book in the center. Fold in the top and bottom edges so the bag is only slightly wider than the book's height. Next, fold over the sides to form sleeves over the book covers. Cut off the excess, leaving a couple of inches on either side to slide over the front and back covers. Put a piece of masking tape on the top and bottom of each sleeve (over the paper, not the book) to keep it on tight, and you're done. Lastly, let your child put his or her personal design on each cover.
Tutorial ---> Paper Bag Book Cover
Create a Table DecorationUse a small designer shopping bag with handles to make an attractive centerpiece for your dining room table or living room mantel. Fill a small cup with some water and place it in the middle of the bag. Place a few fresh-cut flowers in the glass, and presto! All done.
Recycled Crafts Box
Divided into sections dealing with paper, plastic, metal, and fabric, the book tells how these materials are made, traces their history, and explains how they can be recycled, emphasizing benefits to the environment.
Make Your Own Wrapping PaperNeed to wrap a present in a hurry? You don't have to rush out to buy wrapping paper. Just cut a large paper bag along the seams until it's a flat rectangle. Position it so that any printing is facing up at you, put your gift on top and fold, cut, and tape the paper around your gift. If you wish, personalize your homemade wrapping paper by decorating it with markers, paint, or stickers.
Reuse Paper Bags as Gift BagsWhat to do with those small gift bags with handles favored by most boutiques? Why not use them to package your own gifts? They're ideal for holding items such as bath supplies, jewelry, perfume, and even most books. Simply add some shredded crepe paper, a personalized card, and you're all set.
Recycle as Towel&Tissue DispensersAdd a simple but elegant touch to your guest bathrooms by using small "boutique bags" as paper towel or tissue dispensers. You can even embellish them with your own personal touches, such as ribbons or stickers that match your décor.
Reshape Knits After WashingPut the shape back into your wool sweater or mittens by tracing the contours of the item on a paper bag before you wash it. Then use your outline to stretch the item back to its original shape after washing it.
Store Linen SetsHave you ever emptied the contents of your linen closet looking for the flat sheet to match the fitted one you just pulled out? You can easily spare yourself some grief by using medium-sized paper bags to store your complete linen sets. Not only will your shelves be better organized, but you can also keep your linens smelling fresh by placing a used fabric softener sheet in each bag.
Use Paper Bag as a Pressing ClothIf your ironing board's cover appears to have seen its last steam iron, don't sweat it. You can easily make a temporary pressing cloth by splitting open one or two paper bags. Dampen the bags and lay them over your ironing board to get those last few shirts or skirts pressed for the workweek.
Pack Your BagsGetting ready to leave on a family vacation? Don't forget to pack a few large shopping bags -- the kind with handles -- in your luggage. They're guaranteed to come in handy to bring home the souvenirs you pick up, or perhaps your soiled laundry or beach towels.
Paper Bag Recycled NewspapersDouble up on your recycling efforts by using large paper bags to hold your newspapers for collection. It not only spares you the time and effort needed to tie up your bundles with string, but it also makes it easier to sort out your magazines, newsprint, and glossy pages.
Make Cleanups EasierCut open one or two paper bags and spread them out over your countertop when peeling vegetables, husking corn, shelling peas, or any other messy task. When you're done, simply fold up the paper, and toss it into the trash for a fast and easy cleanup.
Keep Bread Fresh Inside Paper BagIf you live in a high-humidity area, your bread will stay fresher when stored inside a paper bag rather than a plastic one. The paper's ability to "breathe" will keep the bread's crust crisp while allowing the center of the loaf to stay soft and moist.
Use Paper Bag to Ripen FruitMany fruits -- including avocados, bananas, pears, peaches, and tomatoes -- will ripen better when placed in a paper bag. To hasten the ripening process of any fruit, place an already ripe apple or banana peel in the same bag and store it at room temperature. To ripen green bananas, wrap them in a damp dishtowel before placing them in the bag. Once your fruits have adequately ripened, you can halt the process by putting them in the refrigerator.
Store MushroomsRemove your store-bought mushrooms from their mesh packaging and place them in a paper bag inside your refrigerator to keep them fresh for up to five days.
Using Paper Bags for Cat LitterYou can recycle even when cleaning up after your kitties! scoop the litter in there, fold it over and throw it away. The paper will break down much faster.
Store Geraniums in WinterAlthough they're considered to be annuals, geraniums are easy to overwinter. First, remove the plants from their pots or care-fully dig them up from your garden bed, shake off as much soil as possible, and place each plant in its own paper bag. Cover each bag with a second paper bag turned upside down and store them in a cool, dry place. When spring arrives, cut off all but 1 inch (2.5 centimeters) of stem and repot. Place them in a sunny spot, water regularly, and watch your plants "spring" back to life.
Feed Your PlantsBonemeal is an excellent source of nutrients for all the plants in your garden. You can easily make your own by first drying your leftover chicken bones in a microwave oven (depending on the quantity, cook them for 1-4 minutes on High). Then place the dried bones in a sturdy paper bag and grind them up using a mallet, hammer, or rolling pin. When done, distribute the powder around your plants and watch them thrive.
Add Paper Bags to CompostBrown paper bags are a great addition to any garden compost heap. Not only do they contain less ink and pigment than newsprint, but they will also attract more earthworms to your pile (in fact, the only thing the worms like better than paper bags is cardboard). It's best to shred and wet the bags before adding to your pile. Also, be sure to mix them in well to prevent them from blowing away after they dry.
Dry Your Herbs in Paper BagsTo dry fresh herbs, first wash each plant under cold water and dry thoroughly with paper towels. Make sure the plants are completely dry before you proceed to reduce the risk of mold. Take five or six plants, remove the lower leaves, and place them upside down inside a large paper bag. Gather the end of the bag around the stems and tie it up. Punch a few holes in the bag for ventilation, then store it in a warm, dry area for at least two weeks. Once the plants have dried, inspect them carefully for any signs of mold. If you find any, toss out the whole bunch. You can grind them up, once you've removed the stems, with a rolling pin or a full soda bottle, or keep them whole to retain the flavor longer. Store your dried herbs in airtight containers and away from sunlight.
Reuse Paper Bag to Make EnvelopeEver need a large envelope for mailing?
Here is a tip on how to make your own paper mailer from a recycled brown paper bag...... Tutorial
Curl your hair using paper bags!
Move Snow Off Your WindshieldIf you're tired of having to constantly scrape ice and snow off your car's windshield during the winter months, keep some paper bags on hand. When there's snow in the forecast, go out to your car and turn on the wipers. Then, shut off the engine with the wipers positioned near the middle of your windshield. Now, split open a couple of paper bags and use your car's wipers to hold them in place. After the last snowflake falls, pull off the paper to instantly clear your windshield. Note: To prevent damaging your car's wipers, do not turn on the ignition until you've removed the snow and paper from the windshield.
Make a Fire StarterLooking for an easy way to get a fire going in your fireplace? Simply fill a paper bag with some balled-up newspaper and perhaps some bits of candle wax. Stick the bag under your logs, light it, then sit back and enjoy your roaring fire.
Spray-Paint Small ItemsYou don't have to make a mess every time you need to spray-paint a small item. Just place the object to be painted inside a large shopping bag and spray away; the bag will contain the excess spray. Once the item has dried, simply remove it and toss away the bag.
Build a Bag Kite with Paper BagMake a simple bag kite for your children to play with by folding over the top of a paper bag to keep it open. Glue on pieces of party streamers under the fold. Reinforce the kite by gluing in some strips of balsa wood or a few thin twigs along the length of the bag. Poke a couple of holes above the opened end, and attach two pieces of string or yarn (put a piece of masking or transparent tape over the holes to prevent them from tearing) and tie the ends onto a roll of kite string. It should take off when the kids start running.
- Make Your Own Paper Bag Mini-Scrapbooks
Create Your Own Paper Bag Mini-Scrapbook by Darcy Baldwin
- Paper Bag Book Tutorial
Little paper bags - like you take your lunch in. I used to make these little mini-albums all the time back when I was a paper scrapper.
- MaryJanes and Galoshes: Butterfly Wreath- Think Spring!
diy paper bag wreath
- Mama Jenn: Brown Bag Bird Nest
you will need a brown paper lunch bag in addition to whatever you find in nature
- A Campfire for When you Can't Camp
how to make your own indoor campfire.
- Paper Bag Rope Garland
Paper grocery bags are twisted into a rope and embellished with fun baubles to make a different kind of winter garland...
- Paper lunch bag CD covers...
CDR covers - inexpensive, crafty, and you can design, print or xerox any arty label you want... glue them on - or use rubber stamps, silkscreen, linoluem cut print... whatever.
- Purse Paper bag Album Instructions
These instructions are to make this stand up purse paper bag album. It is very similar to the regular paper bag album with only a couple of differences which I will cover shortly.
- Waterfall Paper bag Album
Another spin on the popular paper bag album - The waterfall paper bag album!!
- Baby Shower Paper bag Album
Baby shower paper bag album
- Mothers day Paper bag Album
Mothers day paper bag album
- Accordion Tag Book Instructions
Accordion Tag Book Instructions, learn how to make this quick and easy album, great for Chistmas gifts for family
- Chipboard Mini Album - Name scrapbook
Make your own staggered chipboard mini album, Use the letters of your name to create the pages for this unique scrapbook idea.
- Little Accordion Mini Album
My cute 4x4 accordion mini album with chipboard covers - great for Christmas presents.
- Mini Scrapbook ideas - accordion album with tutorial
more mini scrapbook ideas, this time an accordion album with a twist.
- Crafts : Books : Paper Bag and Tag Journal : Home & Garden Television
Who would have thought that inexpensive, ordinary, everyday paper lunch bags would be put to such grand use?
- Recycled Paper Bag Flowers
Flowers made from recycled lunch bags and recycled grocery bags (like the large flower above) are wonderful
Kiddy Craft Projects
- Folded Paper Bookmaking Kids - Bookmaking Instructions - DIY Bookmaking with Children
|I'm a guest blogger today over at Skip To My Lou - Cindy is having a week of guests share story time ideas in an effort to spread the word about the Read
- CRAFTS : Paper : Birthday Girl Gift Bag : DIY Network
Guest Bethany Mann demonstrates how to use a potato as a stamp.
- Shows A - Z : Carol Duvall Show : Paper Bag Recycling : DIY Network
Carol explains how to make a stronger paper bag by decorating it with adhesive-backed fabric or spray adhesive. Brown lunch bags, grocery bags, and store bags with handles all work well.
- Family Time Calendar: Get Crafty - iVillage
Looking for great ideas for family fun? Find great ideas for every day of the year, including crafts, games, learning activities, family dinner themes and more!
- Bag Owl
These adorable owls are sure to raise a hoot! The simple directions make for a great family project to try this weekend.
- Paper Bag Puppets
Turn paper bags into fun hand puppets!
- Paper Bag Scarecrow Craft
Help your kids make a great faa decoration with this easy to do paper bag scarecow craft!
- Halloween tree
Turn paper bags into gnarled trees for a tabletop Halloween decoration; another great Halloween craft from FamilyFun.com.
- A Better Paper Bag Puppet!
This puppet is so much fun and SO easy for little ones.
- Native American Paper Satchels
This Thanksgiving, set up the kids with a few inexpensive supplies to make their own Native American inspired satchels...
- Paper University - Art Class
Make a colorful fish using a paper bag and your imagination
- Paper Bag Mask
These masks are appropriate for 4 - 5 year olds.
- Paper Bag Monster Pinata Craft - Enchanted Learning Software
A simple-to-make Pinata made from a paper bag and and tissue paper.
- FamilyFun: Crafts - and More Family Fun
Round up a flock of these paper-bag gobblers, and young holiday guests can take home more than leftovers.
- FamilyFun: Crafts - and More Family Fun
Here's one of our favorite ways to turn around a dull day: make silly hats for no reason at all. Our design, made out of paper bags and basic art supplies, allows plenty of room for kids' creative touches.
- Tepee Craft - Enchanted Learning Software
Tepee Craft: Make a Native American tepee from a brown paper grocery bag and twigs.
And if you have any other tip we haven't mentioned here about the ways to reuse paper bags in your home, garden or for play with kids, share it with the rest of us! Thanks!