15 uses for plastic grocery bags in your RV

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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.

Related:

What not to do with your plastic bags: The evil of plastic. Beware: Photo is disturbing

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BILLY Bob Thronton
12 days ago

The idiot in charge where I live ordered no more plastic bags. He/she is either a greenie, or thinks they are by stopping the use. It was put on hold for a while during the Wuhan outbreak, then they just doubled down and stopped their use. Now, if you want paper they charge you. I’m going to do one better, when I travel and stop at Wal-Mart, I’ll use the self checkout and stock up. 🙂

Love repurposing, so I WILL NOT BE DENIED.

Stefan trestyn
16 days ago

Recently they were selling shower mats made from plastic bags. They crochet them

Tommy Molnar
16 days ago

Frankly, I watch for a Wally World bag clinging to a weed of some kind to determine which way the wind is blowing and how severe it is as we head down the road. Not every town flies a flag to use as a weather vane.

Linda
17 days ago

I hate to be Debbie Downer but I thought the whole point of reusable bags was to keep the plastic out of the dumps. Pushing your cart full of groceries out to the car and loading your own bags still accomplishes that goal. Using them for all these other things still results in bags in the dump. Just do me one favor…if the bags are going to the dump, at least cut through the loops so they don’t end up around a animal’s neck.

BILLY Bob Thronton
12 days ago
Reply to  Linda

How about this Debbie. Set up recycle spots to capture the plastic. Oh yeah they already exist. Carry on.

Gordy B
17 days ago

We keep plastic bags in Kleenex boxes as well, but we fold them different. If you take the bag and fold it lengthwise then tuck the bottom in first and fold it over for the top to go in but before you tuck the top in put the bottom of the next bag thru the loop handles. As you continue to load the box be sure to put each one opposite as the previous one they will then pull out like the Kleenex. One at a time.

Tom
17 days ago

I put groceries back in the cart and take to my car and use my own reusable bags. No extra plastic bags.

Dawn
17 days ago
Reply to  Tom

I was about to say this as well!

BILLY Bob Thronton
12 days ago
Reply to  Tom

Wasn’t the just of the article on how to repurpose? Carry on.

Howard Schiller
17 days ago

When at the beach, fill 4 plastic bags with some sand and hang one over each corner of your pop-up to keep it in place should the wind pick up.

Cheri Miller
17 days ago

I bag my groceries when I get to the car where I have my reusable bags because the weather here allows it and my time is such that I don’t have to be out when it’s late, dark, and unsafe. That being said, these tips are great because I also like to re-use the little plastic bags that the newspaper comes in and the plastic that the giant packages of paper products come in.

Steve
17 days ago

Just curious, why do you carry insect powder and weed spray in an RV?

Jim Schrankel
17 days ago
Reply to  Steve

Put around the tires in fire ant country.

Ernie Powell
13 days ago
Reply to  Jim Schrankel

Also if the rv park doesn’t mow close enough use weed killer to kill weeds that grow where they wont mow

Lynn
17 days ago

I am going to weave (not crochet) a mat the size of a standard picnic table cloth, and two bench cover mats out of the hundreds of plastic bags I’ve accumulated. We haven’t been able to use our own bags for months due to covid. Look it up on Pinterest.

Gail
17 days ago

My tip is also a neat way to store them. I use the empty container from Chlorox or Lysol wipes. You can fit A LOT of bags in one of these! I just take a sharpie and mark it “bags”

David Telenko
17 days ago

We’ve been using plastic grocery bags to pick up our dog poop for a lot of years. Sometimes I need 2 one for picking up & one to deposit it in. Saves on buying special poop bags!
Snoopy

Jane
17 days ago

This is more on how to store all those bags easily. We use kleenex boxes. Just wrap up the bag into a little ball and stuff in. You would be amazed at how many of those grocery bags fit into one kleenex box. Then when you need one you just pull it out. The boxes stack very neatly in a cupboard.

Becky McCreary
17 days ago

I use cloth or vinyl shopping bags. — easier to carry and hold more. I do get a few to use for trash and cleaning cat litter box. Also I pour grease into a tin can and set it in freezer. When it is full, I stuff some paper towel on top of frozen grease, tie it closed in a plastic bag and put it in the trash can at the campground .

Sandie DIXON
17 days ago

I agree with Tom. Our food bank is so excited to get our plastic bags. We collect them from our entire park. They also want 12 count egg cartons.

Bruce
17 days ago

Not necessarily RV travel specific but I miss having a few of the old time shopping bags around. They were useful “Land Mine Disposal Receptacles” for doggie poop patrols in the back yard.

littleleftie
17 days ago

Plastic bags are banned in the city where I live. We bring our own reusable ones or else can purchase paper bags at most stores. When Covid first showed its miserable face, we did see a temporary ban on bringing reusables but that ended months ago. I do have a stockpile of plastic bags that I kept from before the ban….I keep them especially for my camper because of how handy they are!

Dan
17 days ago

Curious about the statement at the beginning of the article regarding why a person cannot use their own shopping bags, due to covid. Whenever we forget our bags in the car/truck we always growl to ourselves about it, and if we’re not buying a lot of small items we take the cart out, load our own bags and then return the cart. It would be great to see the end of plastic bags, and bottles too. Will I live long enough to see practical, biodegradable bags and bottles become normal? Or even everyone using their own bags over and over? I understand some parts of the world never got on the plastic shopping bag band wagon. I even feel a little guilty using them for trash bags which eventually end up in the land fill. Forever! My Mother used to joke about Sam Walton advertising with a Walmart bag on every fence post in America.

Retired Firefighter Tom
17 days ago
Reply to  Dan

Bags you bring into the store may have germs on them – including Covid-19 germs – from your home, vehicle, or even the shopping cart you used. Not allowing the bags helps keep the store just a little safer from outside germ sources. I don[t like it, either, but if it helps to keep us just a little safer, why not do it.

anne
17 days ago

Not allowed in my stores anymore either because of COVID.

Connie
17 days ago

I use plarn to crochet rugs. My friends keep their eyes open for different color plastic bags. All my RV friends and family have a rug to wipe their feet on.

Tom
17 days ago

Plastic bags and kitty litter, works for us.
Local food bank appreciates plastic bag donations. They use them to repackage bulk foods.
About 650 – 800 families get abut 170 pounds of food per month. Sad, but true.