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Plastic Bags - Let's do something about them or with them!

Updated on September 16, 2014

A big problem...a small solution...

Ah...the plastic bag. While they are found everywhere these days, there was a time when they were more difficult to find. Today they're found in the streets, tree branches and streams - in every corner of this planet.

Are Plastic Grocery Bags Sacking the Environment?

John Roach for National Geographic

The "paper or plastic" conundrum that vexed earnest shoppers throughout the 1980s and 90s is largely moot today. Most grocery store baggers don't bother to ask anymore. They drop the bananas in one plastic bag as they reach for another to hold the six-pack of soda. The pasta sauce and noodles will get one too, as will the dish soap.

Plastic bags are so cheap to produce, sturdy, plentiful, easy to carry and store that they have captured at least 80 percent of the grocery and convenience store market since they were introduced a quarter century ago, according to the Arlington, Virginia-based American Plastics Council.

As a result, the totes are everywhere. They sit balled up and stuffed into the one that hangs from the pantry door. They line bathroom trash bins. They carry clothes to the gym. They clutter landfills. They flap from trees. They float in the breeze. They clog roadside drains. They drift on the high seas. They fill sea turtle bellies. Read the entire article on National Geographic

Tutorials...How To's...DIY - Isn't that what you want? Go ahead...make one!

Recycled Crochet Bags Video Clips

Some TV show clips and how-to's

What some countries are doing

Germany - consumers use their own bag or pay a tax at the store for a plastic bag.

Brazil - Initiatives are local: the government of the state of Parana' imposed a deadline (11/18/2007) for grocery stores to come up with alternatives to circumvent the problems. Some stores adopted recycling programs, some are utilizing oxi-degradable plastic (degrades in 18 months) and some are selling reusable bags. The state of Sao Paulo launched an awareness campaign. The Federal government is pushing for garbage recycling, which already happens in numerous communities. Brazilians are very resourceful when it comes to recycling.

USA - Each year, the country uses one hundred billion plastic bags. In San Francisco (California), they were replaced by recycled paper bags. Some manufacturers are using corn and potato starch as a raw material. Reusable shopping bags are all the rage.

The grocery store I go to, Kroger, has a Bag-2-Bag program: You take the bags back to their recycle bin and they make them into new bags.

Bangladesh - Because they clog rainwater drainage networks, the plastic bag was banned. The measure includes the manufacture, marketing and use.

Ireland - The government has imposed a specific tax to inhibit use. The measure caused a 90% reduction in use. The money raised is for actions of environmental protection.

Taiwan - Stores are prohibited from offering free bags to the customer, patrons; they face fines.

South Africa - Government banned the use and drafted penalties of fine and imprisonment.

India - To prevent the ingestion of the bags, and death, by cows (sacred animal), some states banned their production, storage, use, sale and distribution. Penalties for infringement are imprisonment and a fine.

Australia- Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts is supporting Clean Up Australia, a national plastic bag awareness campaign Bag Yourself a Better Environment. Retailers and the community are being asked to reduce the use of plastic shopping bags, increase plastic bag recycling, and reduce the amount of plastic bag litter.

Paper or Plastic: 101 Ingenius Uses for Plastic Grocery Bags
Paper or Plastic: 101 Ingenius Uses for Plastic Grocery Bags

Out of Print...Bummer! But it might show in the "used book" listings.


Other sites to visit

Visit my etsy shop to see crochet item using recycled pull tabs (pop tops) from soda and beer cans for purchase.

Visit my other squidoo lens on Pull Tab Crochet with links to wonderful recycled wearable items and how-to's

Do you know of something your community is doing? Do you like this lens? - Let us all know...

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    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      My mother used to knit hats from plastic bags and I tried it but found it tedious. I used to be a prolific knitter, but I think crocheting would be far easier. I like the idea of making them into reusable shopping bags. I would never just throw them away.

    • profile image

      ShellB 6 years ago

      Great idea to recycle plastic bags! I've always thought the bags could be made into blankets for the homeless but I'm not sure how warm plastic bag blankets would be?

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Great idea to crochet shopping bags. Cool, thanks :)

    • stephenteacher profile image

      Stephen Carr 7 years ago from Corona, CA

      I'd like to see teachers collect from their student's families, then send them somewhere to be reused. The only thing I do at the moment is use them for small trash bags. Not the greatest, but it saves me from buying them and creating double. I always get clerks to use as little amount of bags as possible. That is, if I can carry it easily or take it without a bag, I do that. These bags can sometimes pile up rapidly.

    • AliciaAnn89 profile image

      Alicia 7 years ago from New York

      @AliciaAnn89: I forgot to include the link:

    • AliciaAnn89 profile image

      Alicia 7 years ago from New York

      I really loved your lens! The books you included in the Amazon widget are all so interesting. I added your lens to my lensroll on my reusing old magazines lens, hope you don't mind!

    • Jmel37 profile image

      Jmel37 7 years ago

      Great lens! I've lensrolled it to my lens which is also all about those troublesome plastic bags. I have a shop on etsy as well where I sell crocheted reusable tote bags from plastic bags. Oh I like your pop top creations! I made chairs out of pop tabs!

    • PopTopLady profile image

      PopTopLady 7 years ago

      @EricOlsen: Thanks!!!!

    • profile image

      EricOlsen 7 years ago

      Great lens about recycling! I linked to it in my lens about littering: [url=]Why Do You Litter? [/url]. It is a perfect match! Great job PopTopLady

    • Airinka profile image

      Airinka 7 years ago

      Plastic bags is a global problem.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Interesting lens you have here! Keep it up!

    • profile image

      Earth_Friend 7 years ago

      Fascinating lens! Thanks for informing and helping with this problem!


    • Kylyssa profile image

      Kylyssa Shay 7 years ago from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA

      Thank you for sharing these great recycled crafts ideas.

    • profile image

      mitchking 8 years ago

      Driving down the road in just about every state in the country plastic bags are seen sticking to fences everywhere where the wind has deposited them. We do need to find some solutions to these bags.

    • DreamsBloom profile image

      DreamsBloom 8 years ago

      Great lens. I've made water bottle carriers made from plastic bags (plarn) that I've made with a knitting loom. I'd love to make some Japanese Zori sandals with plastic bags someday too.

    • profile image

      geothermalminnie 8 years ago

      I LOVE the bags and shoes! I've never seen shoes made out of plastic bags before. Great lens!


    • teamlane profile image

      teamlane 8 years ago

      Blessed by a SquidAngel today!

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago A non-profit volunteer group that puts on runway fashion shows where all the garments are made from trash materials. The knitted white plastic grocery bag wedding dress is my contribution.

    • profile image

      totalhealth 8 years ago

      perhaps plastics are one of the great discoveries for the convenience it gives up but sadly it is also one of the greatest pollutants of our our planet. we can't deny the usability of plastics but we should also be aware of its effects on our environmetnt that we should be responsible users.

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      This is the year and now is the time to learn more about crochet than making a square. Those shoes are awesome.

    • greenerme profile image

      greenerme 9 years ago

      People are really putting their old plastic bags to some good uses! It's great to see other countries taking the initiative as well. Great work!

    • profile image

      anonymous 9 years ago

      Oh ya, some of my pet peeves are these plastic bags, the unnecessary and overpacking of food products and plastic bottled water. I faithfully use my cloth grocery bags and use those for other shopping as well, I don't buy bottled water and try to purchase veggies and fruit that is loose and not packaged. Excellent Lens! - Kathy

    • SecretFreegan profile image

      SecretFreegan 9 years ago

      Thanks for your fun and insightful tips!


    • Mihaela Vrban profile image

      Mihaela Vrban 9 years ago from Croatia

      Claudia? I would like to ask you to add this lens to Reuse it all! group!

    • profile image

      anonymous 9 years ago

      Love the lens! Thanks for sharing some interesting facts with us. I'll say it too, OMG...Shoes!!! I'm gonna have to learn that crochet

    • Mortira profile image

      Mortira 9 years ago

      Thank you so much for this lens! I always save my plastic bags to reuse them, but I never knew that I could make things from them!

      I really enjoyed reading about how plastic bags are dealt with around the world. Way to go for South Africa. It just proves that even leaders can sacrifice convenience for the Earth's sake when they need to.

    • Mihaela Vrban profile image

      Mihaela Vrban 9 years ago from Croatia

      Well, well, well... good that I looked. This topic is already taken! :) And you did great job with it! Gonna lensroll it to 4 of my lenses - 'Extraordinary Uses for Ordinary Things', ' How to Reuse Paper Rolls', 'How to Reuse Paper Bags' and 'How to Reuse Egg Carton'!

    • WritingforYourW profile image

      WritingforYourW 9 years ago

      Well, I have a dog, so you can guess what I do with mine... :P

      Those crochet bags look very cool though!

    • profile image

      anonymous 9 years ago

      Very informative lens. Recycling plastic bags never sounded so fun- great way to reduce the load in our landfills.

      Check out The Green Maniacs lens for more GREEN tipswww.greeningpetsandpeople

    • profile image

      dmsky 9 years ago

      Fantastic! I've added a small section to my crochet lens about using plastic bags. Maybe you could offer more suggestions?

    • evelynsaenz1 profile image

      Evelyn Saenz 9 years ago from Royalton

      5 stars, Favored and joined your Fan Club!

      Lemmings like to recycle. Check out their milk carton igloo! They think that your bags would be great as Take Home Literacy Bags.

      Because you have done such a great job on this lens the lemmings are sending you a virtual Cup of Coffee to hang on your wall.

    • profile image

      anonymous 9 years ago

      Love this's so informative and well put together. I love to recycle and create tshirt bags for friends and family and buyers as well. Thanks for such a great squido page!

    • NAIZA LM profile image

      NAIZA LM 9 years ago

      Awesome lens! If every country only know how to use this method of recycling plastic bags, it would be much helpful to the Mother Nature. I really learned a lot. Definitely, a fabulous five!!

    • CherylK profile image

      Cheryl Kohan 9 years ago from Minnesota

      This is great! I've just "favorited" you! Am going to check out your ideas and links. I'd like to add your lens to my list of "Other Great Lenses" but am not sure how to do that as I've only got one lens, so far. Hopefully, it'll just automatically show up there! Keep up the good work...

    • profile image

      pouch 9 years ago

      fab lens, love the ideas and fully support your recycling plans.

      I've also written a lens on recycling, come on over and let me know what you think!

      nicola @ pouch