16 Ways to Reuse Plastic Bags

Plastic grocery bags are terrible for the planet, but somehow they always seem to make their way into our homes, don’t they? Next time you’re faced with a plastic grocery bag, try one of these ways to give it a new life instead of sending it to the landfill!

Here in the U.S. we use around one billion plastic bags per year, and we only recycle around one percent of them. The rate of recycling is so low because recycling plastic of this low quality is not very profitable. The rest of those bags are landfill-bound. If they don’t make it to the landfill, they break down in sunlight to pollute our air and water or make their way into rivers and eventually the ocean where they become part of the plastic-polluted dead zones known as gyres.

Related Reading: Are Tea Bags Really Compostable?

Of course, banning plastic bags or at least turning them down at the store is the best option – not using these bags in the first place means stores won’t order as many, so the companies that produce them will churn out fewer of them each year. In most places, unfortunately, a bag ban is a long way off, and that means that despite your best intentions, chances are you end up with some of these bags in your home, even if you always remember to bring your own bag to the store.

Rather than feel guilty about the plastic bag stash under your kitchen sink, check out our list on the next page of 16 ways that you can reuse those bags to keep them out of the landfill!

DIY Toy Crinkle Toy for Baby

16 Ways to Reuse Plastic Bags

Some of these uses are crafty, and others are household ideas for reusing plastic bags.

1. DIY Crinkle Toy – Whether you have scraps left over from fusing plastic or just a bag you can cut up, that flimsy plastic makes perfect stuffing for a handmade crinkle toy.

2. Fused plastic placemat – It’s super simple to make fabric by fusing plastic grocery bags with your iron, and this placemat craft is the simplest way to use the results.

3. Coasters – Another fused plastic project, these coasters are simple and sweet!

4. Rolled BeadsThis project uses the same idea as making paper beads. You’ll want to choose a glue that adheres well to plastic, though – check your hardware store!

5. Poop bags – Use them to collect dog poop on walks instead of buying new poop bags.

6. Small trash bags – Why spend money on small trash bags when you can dip into your existing stash of plastic bags, right?

7. Make plarn – Do you knit or crochet? Learn how to spin plastic bags into yarn that you can use for all kinds of projects!

8. Crochet placemat – If you want a more intricate placemat, grab your plarn and try this crochet placemat project.

Related Reading: 15 Ways to Reuse Plastic Bottle Caps

9. Stash dirty diapers or diaper liners when you have to change your baby on the go. You might want to double-bag it for this one!

10. Jump ropeTurn old plastic bags into a jump rope for your kiddos!

11. Leaf garland – Fuse your bags and cut them into leaf shapes to make a fall leaf garland.

12. Plastic flowers – Twist and wind your plastic bags into cute plastic flowers!

13. Bring them back to the store – Keep your plastic bags in the car to tote groceries again, or return them to the store, so they can reuse them.

14. Gift Bows – This holiday, add some pizazz to your wrapped presents with upcycled plastic bag gift bows.

15. No slip clothes hangerWrap a plastic or a pair of wire clothes hangers in plastic bags to keep clothes in place.

16. Holiday wreath – Plastic bags make a surprisingly beautiful holiday wreath!

What are some ways that you guys have reused plastic bags? I’d love to hear more suggestions in the comments!

Crinkle toy photo by Becky Striepe

Related Reading: 8 Ways to Reuse Old T-Shirts


Jo S.
Jo S3 years ago

Thanks Becky.

Carolt M.
Past Member 3 years ago

Hi guys, I really enjoyed your blog it was quite inspirational, keep posting!
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Jo Recovering
Jo S3 years ago

Thank you Becky.

Past Member 3 years ago


Past Member 3 years ago


Past Member
.4 years ago

I really used to waste the plastic bags before I came here on this place then I got the best ideas for reusing the plastic bags, I’ll try these. plastic resin

ERIKA S5 years ago

thank you for sharing

Dave C.
David C5 years ago


Deborah Dubard
Deborah DuBard5 years ago

Thanks for sharing. I already reuse plastic bags for trash bags but there were some ideas I hadn't thought of, thanks.

simon short
Simon Short5 years ago

What is it with this site's obsession with 'using up' a toxic waste (Dioxins people. Look it up) you shouldn't have imported into your house in the first place.
Let's offer another article:
'Bright ideas of ways to use up cat skins'
- And let's see how long it is before some sensible person writes in to say "Why waste your time making things you don't need, making stuff out of the skins of cats? Why not simply stop trapping your neighbours cats and skinning them?! (You nutter)".
And - they'd have a very real POINT.
Please. Just don't take plastic bags from shops.
You've proved you never re-use them. They keep piling up. That's why you're wasting your life making tat out of them.
Leave the bags at the shop and either re-use some of the bags you have already or take a backpack and leave your hands free for waving at friends.
If you MUST do 'Craft' projects, plant some nice fruit'n'veg & you'll find a million things to do with vegetable matter.
This is - after all - what people did before they had to use up the waste products of the oil industry.
Because - yes - that's what plastic is.
Just say 'No' to plastic and grow your own willow or something.