By Gail Marsh
The COVID-19 pandemic brought many changes. One minor change is that I can no longer take/use my own “green” reusable grocery bags when I shop. Another change is that the local grocer removed their plastic bag recycle bin. What this means is that over the past year I’ve accumulated a mountain of plastic grocery bags! I’m talking Everest here, folks! Our RV park does not recycle plastic bags and it’s gotten to the point that one entire cupboard in our RV is filled with the things! Storage is always a challenge in the RV, so I just had to find a use for all the plastic grocery bags! (Note: Before reusing, I usually wash the bags in hot soapy water and then hang them upside down to dry completely.)
Here are 15 ways I’m reusing plastic grocery bags
- This one’s a no-brainer: I use them as trash liners inside the small RV trash cans. If there are no holes in the bottom, they work great as liners – and, bonus! I save money by not having to buy any.
- Keep a stash of plastic liners in your RV or tow vehicle, especially for travel days. I put all our travel trash like apple cores and gum wrappers inside the bag. When we stop for gas, I empty the bag and reuse it if possible. This keeps our vehicle much cleaner. Hubby uses a bag over his hand when pumping gas, too. It keeps the fuel off his hands and the gasoline smell out of our truck.
- One of our grandkids tends to get car sick. More than once a plastic grocery bag has saved the day. We keep bags inside our glove compartment for just such emergencies.
- I put similar small items inside separate plastic bags on travel days (e.g., makeup, playing cards, or jewelry). Then I place the packed bag into the room where the items will “live” once we land. When we stop, I can quickly place the items on a shelf. If I’m packing shoes inside a suitcase, I stuff the inside of the shoes with bags and then wrap the shoes inside plastic bags. This protects the shoes in travel.
- Speaking of travel days, I reuse the bags as cushions between dishes and other breakables. I have so many bags that I stuff several around and between cookware too. So far, I’ve not had anything scratch or break. I can even use them to secure opposing cupboard doors by threading a bag through both handles and tying them together.
- I usually put “mess makers” like bags of flour or sugar inside plastic bags, too. If they get knocked over in transit, I simply empty the spill into the trash. It saves me from having to vacuum out the cupboard. Hubby uses the bags in a similar way to contain potential messes in the RV basement. Containers like partially used insect dust or weed spray each go inside a separate plastic bag, which will catch and hold spills.
- I’ve placed several plastic bags in the RV basement, too. They come in handy as a glove substitute whenever an unexpected mess happens. Hubby just slips a hand inside a bag and after dealing with the leak or whatever, he discards the bags.
- We’ve had a lot of rain this spring and that means mud. I keep a stash of bags inside the RV front door. I take off both muddy shoes as I sit on the RV steps, then put a muddy shoe into its own separate bag and enter our rig stocking-footed. Mud is secured inside the bags until I have a minute to scrape off the shoes outside. Since I also keep bags in the truck, I can slip a plastic bag on each foot when exiting the vehicle. When I reach the RV front door, I can take the bags off my feet and not track mud into the RV.
- When traveling in winter we tie a plastic bag over each exterior rearview mirror. We also slip each windshield wiper inside its own plastic bag. In the morning we can quickly remove the bags and get on the road without waiting for the frost to melt off first.
- I like to put smaller plants inside a plastic bag when traveling. The tied bag keeps the plant potting mix secured in case of a tip-over. You can use the plastic bags to protect delicate plants from frost simply by covering the plant with a bag. (Be sure to remove it in the morning.) A bag can act as a “greenhouse” of sorts, too. Plant seeds into the soil in a pot, water it, and cover the pot with a plastic bag. Once the seeds have sprouted, you can remove the bag.
- Put your hand inside a plastic grocery bag to pick up your doggie’s mess. Then turn the bag (with the mess) inside out. Your hands never have to touch the doggy-doo. Got a cat? Empty the dirty litter box inside an intact plastic bag. Bags can also contain wet or dirty diapers until you can dispose of or launder them.
- Sometimes when I bring home meat from the grocery there’s a bit of a mess on the outside of the packaging from spilled juices, etc. I like to put the gooey package into a bag before placing it into the fridge. It keeps the fridge much cleaner. After cooking the meat, you can put the messy Styrofoam container into the same plastic bag to keep smells contained until you take the trash to the dumpster.
- Pack a change of clothes into a bag when going to the beach. When you’re ready to leave you can put your wet suit into the bag and put on the dry clothes. I’ve also put my wristwatch, phone, and other items inside a bag to keep the sand out and the items safe from accidental water splashes.
- You can pamper yourself with plastic bags. Really! Liberally apply moisturizing lotion to your hands. Then put your hands inside a plastic bag and wait for 10-15 minutes. When you remove your hands, they will be extraordinarily soft.
- I’ve reused plastic bags to make outdoor pillows. It’s fairly easy – even fun! This is where I got the idea. Feel like more crafting? Google “plarn.” (That’s short for “plastic yarn,” so it’s p l a r n.) It’s amazing!
How do you reuse plastic grocery bags? Please share your ideas in the comments below.
What not to do with your plastic bags: The evil of plastic. Beware: Photo is disturbing