10 Ways to (re)Use Shopping Bags

Shadows over the pooper-scooper bin
Image by publicenergy via Flickr

When I go shopping, I don’t bring my own grocery bags…mostly because I’m not a hippy.  I do tend to double-bag my groceries just so I can bring more shiny plastic bags home to play with.  What do I do with them, you ask?   I’m glad you asked, because that is why I am writing this post.  Thank you for cooperating.

Here are my favorite 10 things to do with shopping bags:

  1. Garbage bag. When I’m cooking, I hang a shopping bag on the drawer handle where I’m working, so all the scraps can go straight into the trash.   I just slide the onion skins or pepper cores off the counter right into the bag.
  2. Garbage bag II. Why buy small garbage bags for that tiny can in the bathroom?  A plastic shopping bag works just as well.
  3. Pooper scooper. Instead of buying some gadget or even a little roll of bags, just tuck one of these into your pocket when you take the dog for a walk.  Instant poop removal.
  4. Paint brush saver. When you are painting, if you have to stop for the night, wrap your brush in a plastic bag and put it in the refrigerator.  It will be ready to use in the morning, without have to clean it or pick out dried paint flakes.
  5. Halloween mask. Draw a lipstick mouth on the bag, pull it down and you are an instant “bag lady”.   Seriously, this is bad advice.  Don’t put a plastic bag over your face, no matter what some jerk on the internet says.
  6. Power-strip water-resistor. I go a bit crazy decorating for Halloween.   Right now, there is a lighted path, 2 coffins, a few full-sized monsters, 30-40 tombstones, and over 100 skulls in my yard.   Some of that is animated.   I wraps power strips and extension cord connections in plastic bags, then duct-tape the bag-seams.   I’m not an electrician, or a code-compliance officer, so don’t take this as advice, but it has worked well for me.
  7. Recycling bin. This requires paper bags, not plastic, and it makes me a bit of a hippy.   I keep a paper bag next to the garbage can just for the recycling.  I keep another handy just to use to collect junk-mail for  my primitive alternative to a paper shredder.
  8. Dirty laundry. I’ve got 2 kids in different stages of potty-training.   When fit hits the shan, so to speak, the dirty/wet clothes go into a bag that I conveniently keep in the diaper bag.   I knot that sucker tight and the scents and stains don’t get all over the stroller or the car.
  9. Dandelion torture chamber. If you’re the kind of person who likes to roam around your yard with a scissors, cutting the heads off of dandelions while they are still pretty, there is no better place to store the mutilated remains of your victims than a shopping bag from Target.   Show those other weeds what happens to trespassers!  I wish I was making this up.
  10. Car kits for kids. Before we go on a trip, we have the kids fill up a small bag with books and toys to keep themselves occupied for the drive.   This isn’t recommended if your kids have to taste everything they touch, but it’s been a simple-yet-elegant solution for us.

Do you use shopping bags for more than just a way to transport clutter from the store to your house?

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    1. I guess we are hippies. We still end up with lots of plastic grocery bags (stores in this town are either very generous or inefficient depending on your take), even though we try to remember to bring cloth. We take them to DS’s preschool where they lovingly wrap dirty diapers to be tossed and wet underpants to take home.

    2. I don’t know what I’d do with stinky diapers if it weren’t for plastic bags.

      I’ve also used them to double bag broken glass so that my main trash bag doesn’t tear.

      • I’ve never used them for broken glass, but that may be because we’ve gotten rid of most of the breakable things in the house over the last 11 years. The kids break too much.

    3. I’ll admit it, I want as many of those bags as possible. We also use them as trash bags for the tiny cans, food trash while we cook, animal waste, to handle the paper towels after cleaning up other animal ickiness, and I use them as lunch sacks since I pack my lunch for work. Nice list!

    4. 7 Ways to (re)Use Shopping Bags.


    5. I use plastic grocery bags in the kitchen when I need to season meat or dredge in flour/cornmeal. Just lay the bag out on the counter, pour the flour/cornmeal on it, dredge the meat or lay the meat on it to season. Then, just throw the dirty bag away when done. Saves me from washing another plate or pan.

    6. I am a hippie – I take my cloth bags everywhere (even Home Depot) and still end up with plastic bags sometimes. I use them for trash can liners and dirty cloth diapers. I definitely wash and reuse plastic bags and I collect them when they are stinky and holey and put them in the bag recycling can at the grocery store. Wonder if they do get recycled there.

    7. For hippies, change # 1 from a garbage bag to a bag you use to carry vegetable peelings, onion skins, etc, outside to the compost pile.

      • I have a garbage bowl that I use for food scraps that then gets carried out to the compost bin, use reusable cloth bags and if I forget i try to cram as much as possible into one bag and carry what won’t fit, we then use that bag in the bathroom trash. don’t have kids in diapers anymore so that isn’t necessary nor is it for wet/soiled clothes. kids both use backpacks to take items on trips. we don’t even use sandwich bags for kids lunches and dh and i both have insulated lunch bags and we don’t have a dog that goes on walks, when we do scoop the poop it goes into a hole that he has dug (keeps him from digging there again). they are convenient to use at garage sales when people buy your junk i mean stuff, but the lady across the street helps us with that. but all of your double duty uses are great!

    8. wifeofseth says:

      I turn the bags into ‘plarn’, which I then crochet into reusable shopping bags. =D

    9. I reuse shopping bags a lot to line my trash cans around the house and it makes cleaning really easy. 🙂


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