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Put Your Plastic Grocery Bags to Work

written by: •edited by: Donna Cosmato•updated: 4/29/2011

If you can't stand to see another plastic grocery bag hit the trash, and don't have time to haul them to the recycling center, you've come to the right place. Use these three tips to start putting empty plastic grocery bags to work right away.

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    There’s more than one way to reuse plastic bags. They’re good for more than trash can liners or, for pet owners, poop pickup bags. Find out how to reuse plastic bags with these simple tips. Finding a good way to reuse your trash is the only way to truly keep them out of the landfills. That same longevity that makes them almost impossible to dispose of properly is, when properly applied, an advantage.

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    Make Plarn!

    Maybe you’ve heard of plarn? This super-clever, super-crafty way of reusing plastic grocery bags for knitting and crochet is one way of turning them into clever creations that can be used over and over. If you’re not one for doing the knitting or crocheting yourself, you can collect bags for someone who is.

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    Waterproof Booties

    Plastic grocery bags--if you’ve got a couple without any rips or holes in them, since they must be waterproof--may help keep your feet dry when you encounter soggy patches in your favorite hiking trail. Test each plastic grocery bag for waterproofness before you reuse it. Fill the bag full of water: If the water leaks out, obviously water will be able to leak in on the trail, too. Once you’ve found a couple that hold liquid without leaks, fold them down (they pack to almost nothing) and stow them in the bottom of your pack until needed.

    Once the going gets soggy, just pull off your shoes or boots, slip each foot into a fully intact plastic bag, and put your shoes back on. Yes, your shoes will get muddy; there’s not much you can do about that. However, inside the plastic bags your feet and socks stay nice and dry. Take the bags off as soon as possible to keep condensation from building up inside the bags.

    Trying to make a style statement on the trail? Trim away the bags where they stick out from the top of your shoes or boots, and nobody will ever know you have them on. They'll just marvel at how you can tromp through the muddiest of patches with nary a worry about getting cold, soggy feet.

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    All-Purpose Packing Protectors

    If you're not a crafter and don't feel like slogging around in the rain, you can still reuse plastic bags in a way that doesn't doom them to the landfill. Those wadded-up plastic bags you’ve got under the kitchen sink make excellent packaging material. Use them just as you would use crumpled-up newspaper or packing peanuts to fill shipping boxes and cushion fragile goods. They’re also good for keeping pairs of shoes together in a suitcase or bundling away dirty clothes, and protect the other items in the suitcase from any dirt or grime that may have been on your shoes or clothing.

    There are a multitude of uses for common items you would ordinarily throw away. What are your ideas?