21 Ways to Reuse Plastic Grocery Bags – Plastic Recycling

plastic recycling

Plastic Recycling – Reuse your plastic grocery bags!!


No. I’m not a master at plastic recycling or any other kind of recycling but I do try to find ways to make the earth a wee bit greener and cleaner. At our house, we do this by doing some plastic recycling and reusing our plastic grocery bags. When you have drawers and cabinets throwing up plastic bags you kind of tend to find ways to reuse them. Like I said, I’m not an expert recycler but I do try and I think that counts for something!

When I come home from trips to the grocery store, I keep all of my plastic bags. Well, at least the ones that didn’t have a leaky package of meat – yuck! I roll them all up and shove them into a drawer (which is slap full at the moment) and reuse them for many different things. If you find yourself overflowing with plastic bags, you might find these tips useful too. Plus you can maybe start your own journey to recycle with these plastic recycling tips!

21 Ways to Reuse Plastic Grocery Bags – Plastic Recycling

1. Makeshift plastic gloves – easier way to handle raw chicken or other meats. I have a serious issue with touching raw meat, especially chicken. I tend to use a fork to flip meat or move from package to skillet or pot. I use the plastic bags to pick up the meat, flip the bag inside out and pitch in the trash or the “scrap” bowl to be thrown outside. We live in the country so the wild critters appreciate the leftovers!

2. Produce peelings – While in the kitchen I also re use plastic bags to put produce peelings in. I just lay the bag flat on the counter and peel into the bag. Then I can either throw the bag into the trash or you can take to your compost pile outside.

3. Unmatched socks – In my utility room, I keep a plastic bag hanging from a shelf to keep unmatched socks in. When it gets full, I empty the bag and match any and leave the unmatched ones in the bag. Hopefully those will find their mates soon!

4. Quick pickup – Use a plastic bag to pick up trash through the house daily. Just make a quick sweep through the house and pick up trash and throw in the bag to pitch. Works great for toys too. Throw toys in the bag as you’re making a quick walk through the house and dump in the kids’ room! This is a super useful plastic recycling tip! I do this EVERY single night!

5. Plastic bag crafts – Did you know that you can make all sorts of fun things with plastic bags? Check out this book called Bags to Beads: Recycle plastic grocery bags into gorgeous beads. You can also knit plastic bags into AWESOME things!! Here’s a book called Eco-Friendly Knits: Using Recycled Plastic Bags (Twenty to Make). I also found this tutorial on how to make a reusable shopping bag from plastic bags!!

6. Fill flower pots – If you fill up flower pots halfway with plastic bags you’ll use much less dirt. I do recommend also using gravel, rocks, broken up bricks or blocks to partially fill them too. Water would have a harder time escaping if you use only plastic and could cause mold and/or water log your plant roots.

7. Knee pads – Wrap a couple or 3 plastic bags around each knee. It’s perfect padding for those DIY projects and garden work outside.


Reuse plastic grocery bags - plastic recycling

8. Wrap your paintbrushes – If you’re in the middle of a paint project, wrap your wet paintbrushes up in a plastic bag to keep them from drying out. I just open the plastic bag, stick the paintbrush into it and then twist the bag tightly around the handle It’ll stay moist for 2-3 days or longer depending on the humidity level outside.

9. Make a doggy bed – Fill a pillowcase with plastic bags to make your pooch a nice pet bed! You can put velcro on the end so that you can empty the bags out when the pillowcase needs a washing.

More plastic recycling tips…

10. PooPoo scooper – Keep plastic bags handy to pick up your pets doo doo from the yard. Stick a plastic bag in your pocket if you’re taking your dog for a walk in the neighborhood to clean up their mess along the way. You can also reuse plastic grocery bags to clean out your kitty litter pans to dump!

11. For dirty diapers – I know this is probably an obvious plastic recycling tip, but I’m sure there are some people who still use those diaper disposable bags from the baby section at the store. Plastic grocery bags and even bread bags work just as well and you don’t have to pay for those!

12. Car sickness and car cleanup – Keep some plastic grocery bags handy in the car. They’re great to keep hanging around your gear shift to throw fast food bags, trash, and bottles in vs. just throwing them in the floor board – like most kids do! Also, you never know when you or one of the kids might unexpectedly get car sick!

13. Packing materials – If you ship stuff out regularly or even once a year, reuse plastic grocery bags as packing materials vs. buying bubble wrap or packing peanuts. It works just as well!

14. Makeshift Umbrella or rain hat – I can’t tell you how many times I’ve done this! Use a plastic bag to cover your head if you can’t find your umbrella. If you can find your umbrella, you can use a plastic bag to keep your wet umbrella in the car!

15. Trashcan liners – Here’s one more obvious plastic recycling tip but I just had to include it. Reuse plastic grocery bags to line your small bathroom or office area trash cans. This is a pet peeve of mine. I can not stand to see a bathroom trashcan without some kind of bag in it. Just grosses me out!

16. Winter shoe covers – If you’re going out in the show and don’t want to get your feet wet, cover them with plastic bags. It keeps your feet nice and dry. I usually pull the bags up to just under my knee especially if the snow is very deep. Obviously, if you have rain boots that would work too but for those who don’t…this is a great idea in a pinch!

17. Keep mud and wet grass out – This is one of my favorite plastic recycling tips!! Keep some plastic bags outside on your patio or porch. In the summer months, mud and wet grass tends to get tracked inside if you’re doing gardening or mowing the yard. If you have to run inside for a split second, throw some bags over your shoes to keep from tracking it all in. My husband HATES taking his shoes off and on in the summer when he’s going in and out. This trick works great for him!

18. Yard or Garage Sales – Keep some bags handy to put items people have bought into for them to easily carry. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen a yard sale customer pay for something and walk off with an armload of stuff. Much easier for them if they have a bag to carry it all in. PLUS…as the day gets later you can pass bags out to customers and say, “Fill a bag for $3″ just to get rid of what’s left!

19. Separate dirty clothes when traveling – If you’re traveling, pack a couple of plastic grocery bags to keep your dirty clothes separated from your clean ones. They’re also great to pack shoes in so you don’t get any dirt from your shoes onto your packed clothes.

20. Use to insulate old window frames – We live in a very old farmhouse. The windows are not the original farmhouse windows BUT they’re still OLD windows. We use plastic bags to fill the gaps to keep cold air from creeping in. Just use a butter knife to shove the plastic bags into the gaps. Works like a charm!!


reuse plastic grocery bags - plastic recycling


reuse plastic grocery bags - plastic recycling
Hold plastic bag length wise and use a butter knife to shove bag into the gap. You want it tight so no air can squeeze through.

reuse plastic grocery bags - plastic recyclingPush the plastic bags in as far as you can so they’re not so visible. I used a brown plastic bag so any extra wouldn’t be so noticeable. You can barely see it now and when I push my curtain back in place, it’s not visible at all. It’s February now and I can feel cold air coming in where I haven’t added the plastic bags. Where the plastic is, I feel nothing!! My dining room is the draftiest room in the house so I’m happy that this works!

21. Thrifty party balloons????? – Okay ya’ll. This was my husband’s idea. I know better than to ask him for ideas but I did anyway and this was the one he came up with. He also suggested adding cheap LED lights to them to make them fun for night time. I have to give it to him….that’s pretty original. He also mentioned using them as parachutes for  G.I. Joe action figures. What can I say? Boys will be boys and men will be boys – most of the time!

If you have any other ways to reuse plastic grocery bags or other plastic recycling tips, please leave a comment! We’d love to hear them!!! If you enjoyed this post, be sure to check out my other useful and thrifty household tips! Some reader favorites are:

How to Remove Ink from Plastic Containers – Reuse Your Containers

Homemade Laundry Soap | Only 3 Ingredients (Just 2 Cents per Load!!!)

Into Green Cleaning? Try the New Heinz Cleaning Vinegar!

How to Get Rid of Fleas Using Apple Cider Vinegar – All Natural & Thrifty

Topic: Reuse plastic grocery bags – plastic recycling



Jenni here! I'm the owner and primary blogger here at Sweet Pennies from Heaven. Married to my better half for 17 years and mom to one awesome little boy. We have 2 dogs, Pepper and Izzy. My favorite thing to do is nap. I love sweets and coffee. Sweet coffee.

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  1. Ginger says

    Recently I saw a man having a great time using a bag as a poor man’s kite on the beach. He used two long Slurpee straws crossed and rubber banded together to hold the bag opening open. (The 4 ends were each rubber banded to the bag as well.) String was tied to each handle and that was tied to a spool of kite string. Worked like a champ!

    My brother made a hot air balloon much the same way. Two straws crossed and attached to the bag. Birthday candles set in the straws. Be sure to tether the balloon before lighting the candles or it will get away from you! NOTE: Be careful around fire!!

  2. Cheryl says

    Some really cool ideas to try – I already do some of them – couple of comments – on paint brushes – I do this – but if you put your brush/bag in the fridge… the brush will stay wet… and I’ve had it stay wet up to a week… pull it out while you’re getting ready to paint and it warms up… paint spreads great.
    Also – LOVED your idea about pet poop. We keep our dog in a small pen in our garage during the day while we’re gone and I have to clean it up – just this week I thought – I need to get some gloves. enough of this toilet paper pick up… plastic bags is the perfect answer! thank you!!
    I also use them as trash can liners and put several in the bottom of each trash once a month can so I just have to pull one out and I’m ready for the next week.
    I also loved your idea of going thru the house with a bag picking up stuff.
    thanks for sharing!

    • Jenni says

      Thanks for the comment Cheryl! With the paintbrushes, I’ve also put them in the freezer and believe it or not…I’ve used them MONTHS later! I always use them as trashcan liners but I’ve never thought about putting some in the bottom. That’s a great time saver. I’ll have to remember that. I actually need to empty trashcans today so I’ll stick some in the bottom of each one. YAY!!!

    • Shelap says

      If you have ever noticed the center tubes on the blue paper shop towels are a harder, more durable tube than paper towel tubes. I use one of those tubes and stuff it with plastic bags, then slide the tube under the car seat. Bags are always there for clean up, for wet clothes, diapers, etc. If the man of the house is working on a vehicle, used paper towels can also be placed in bags. BTW, I keep baby wipes next to the plastic bags as baby wipes clean up mechanic’s hands, marker hands on little ones and paint. Then drop the used wipes in a plastic bag for disposal.

    • Shelap says

      Then after collecting that lint, leave it on the porch for the birds and squirrels to use in their nests. We had a problem for a while with noises coming from our dryer, the squirrels were climbing into the dryer vent to get lint.

  3. says

    Great tips! I always try to use my plastic bags at least twice. I’ll keep a stash at the door for when I have to dash outside in the rain. I hate mopping up wet footprints.

  4. sharon says

    Cute article. I use a LOT of these tips. I just wanted to caution against using the plastic bags with food items. Plastic grocery store bags are made with a petroleum by-product and BPA, which is a chemical designed as a birth control years ago and is high of unnatural estrogen causing your hormones to be EXTREMELY off balance. So every time our raw food touches plastic bags, it’s taking in those harmful chemicals.
    Not to mention the bacteria and microbes from God knows what. Try to remember to bring as many as your own bags from home, and spread the word!


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