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How to Reuse and Recycle Plastic Bags

written by: Jennifer Claerr•edited by: Lindsay Evans•updated: 4/9/2011

Plastic bags are easy to recycle. There are also many ways to reuse plastic bags. Here are some ideas on how you can recycle and reuse plastic bags around your home.

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    Facts About Recycling and Reusing Plastic Bags

    Plastic bags have become a huge problem for our environment. They are non-biodegradable, which causes them to accumulate in landfills and in the earth's oceans. However, plastic bags remain a better environmental choice than paper bags. They require less energy to manufacture and recycle. Plastic bags weigh less and produce less waste than paper bags. Manufacturing plastic bags produces less emissions than manufacturing paper bags. Plastic bags are fully recyclable, and the number of programs available to recycle them is increasing. Many people recycle their plastic grocery bags. Many other types of plastic bags, wraps and films can be recycled as well. Plastic bags are also simple to reuse for many purposes around the house. Reusing and recycling plastic bags can save you a lot of money over time.

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    Ideas for Recycling Plastic Bags

    In most cases, you can take dry, empty plastic bags such as grocery bags to your local grocery store for recycling. Check with your grocery store to see if they recycle any other types of plastic bags. There are also places around the country that take clean dry cleaning bags, bread bags, produce bags, cereal box liners, toilet paper, napkin and paper towel wraps, furniture and electronic plastic wrap, zip lock bags and other bags for recycling. You can find a drop-off location in your area at Recycled plastic bags are also very useful for recycled craft projects, recycled art projects, and even recycled fashion. You can easily make plastic yarn or "plarn" out of recycled plastic bags. Flatten the plastic so that the sides are folded inward, then trim off the handles and the bottom seam of the bag. Fold up the plastic lengthwise into an accordion fold. Then cut the plastic lengthwise into strips that are between 1/2 to 1 inch wide. Open up the plastic loops then knot them together to make a longer strand of plarn. Use the plarn strips just as you would use regular yarn.

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    Ideas for Reusing Plastic Bags

    One of the best ways to reuse plastic bags is to use them as trash can liners in the kitchen, bedroom, bathroom and office. Make sure to use only plastic bags that are clean and free from holes. Also ensure that the plastic bag fits the trash container; you'll need a larger plastic bag for kitchen trash than in other rooms in your home. Clean plastic bags also make a good packaging material for shipping packages, especially when sending breakable objects. Enclose a friendly note to the recipient asking her to recycle the bags when she's finished with them. You can also take your plastic bags to the grocery store to reuse them. Do this until they become too worn or torn to reuse, then recycle them. Consider using plastic bags to store and organize objects in your home. Plastic bags even work as emergency rain gear in a pinch.

    Using these tips will help you to find ideas for reusing and recycling all of your plastic bags. For more recycling ideas, read "Making Art from Recycled Materials" and "How to Recycle Plastic."

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    Make Plarn,