Make us your home page

Repurposing plastic bags can help the environment

The scourge of landfills and the enemy of environmentalists, plastic bags have been much maligned in recent years. Starting in 2007, cities around the country have voted to ban or curb the use of these noncompostable carriers in favor of paper or plant-based alternatives. But while their eco-impact might be pretty harsh, you can at least make a plastic bag serve a second purpose before it ends up in a landfill. There are, of course, the obvious uses: lining a trash bin, cleaning up after a dog or reusing them as bags at the grocery store. But here are some other innovative ways to re-use plastic bags.

Soccer ball: As the old saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention. In Africa, kids looking to kick a ball around will often reach for plastic bags. Wrapped and packed tightly, these bags are perfect for the pitch in a pinch:

Throw rug: If you have weaving skills, you can use tightly rolled plastic bags to fashion a rug (see ). Using brightly colored bags, these rugs are as attractive as anything made of more traditional textiles.

Plarn: "Plarn," or plastic bag yarn, is the art of making a weaveable material from old plastic bags and serves as the basis for many other plastic bag crafts. See how:

Sandals: Fashion yourself some fashionable footwear with a bunch of old plastic bags:

Plastic bag tote bag: Sure, you can take your plastic bag back to the grocery store and use it for a second haul of groceries. But what about making a bag from plastic bags?

Making bread: Rather than reaching for plastic wrap, use a plastic bag to cover rising dough when making bread or pizza. Slip your bread bowl inside the bag and tie it shut to keep the dough nice and moist.

Stand-in for plastic wrap: Whenever a recipe calls for something to be battered and flattened, you can use a bag instead. So next time you need to hammer away at a carpaccio or schnitzel, dispense with the plastic wrap and grab a bag.

Packing material: Keep fragile objects safe in the mail by stuffing shipping boxes with plastic bags.

Painting: Get an attractive textured effect on your walls by applying a dark coat of paint with a paint roller and then a second, lighter coat with a scrunched-up plastic bag.

Plastic flowers: Make a flower from a plastic bag for a rose that's always in bloom:

Make art, not trash: Take some inspiration from artist Virginia Fleck and make some incredible, beautiful works of art from old plastic bags. See her work at

Repurposing plastic bags can help the environment 02/22/12 [Last modified: Thursday, May 10, 2012 2:13pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Tribune News Service.

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours