How can I get a plastic shopping bag out of my tree?
December 20, 2014 10:00 AM   Subscribe

There's the remnant of a plastic shopping bag caught in a tree in my backyard. It bothers me. It's about 20 feet (maybe 25 feet) off the ground. It's not visible in summer, but very visible in winter. Here are a couple of photos. The bag is circled in red.

I can't climb the tree and I don't think I'd want anyone else to. Any practical ideas for removing it?
posted by feelinggood to Home & Garden (11 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Buy four 8' furring strips at home depot. Screw them together, overlapping by 2' at each joint. This will give you a reasonably lightweight 26' stick. Improvise a hook on one end, possibly from coat hanger wire or a large cup hook. Use it to nab the bag.
posted by jon1270 at 10:06 AM on December 20, 2014 [8 favorites]

Check with your local hardware store or landscaper to see whether you can borrow/rent a pruner.
posted by Etrigan at 10:07 AM on December 20, 2014 [3 favorites]

Tie something to a rope and knock it out? Alternatively, how good are you with a slingshot?
posted by Cat Face at 10:09 AM on December 20, 2014

Spray it with a hose.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 10:55 AM on December 20, 2014 [2 favorites]

For a one off bag I think jon1270 has the best solution. If you have a lot of bags you can buy a BagSnagger which is just a more durable, professional version of a hook on a stick. There is a non-profit in New York funded by Bette Midler that just removes plastic bags from park trees using BagSnaggers.
posted by ChrisHartley at 11:19 AM on December 20, 2014 [3 favorites]

Link to furring strip.
posted by cda at 5:34 PM on December 20, 2014

Nerf bow and arrow?
posted by Marky at 7:34 PM on December 20, 2014

Best answer: This is going to sound strange but as a kid I used to go around my neighborhood and do this for fun. Use a contraption like the one mentioned by jon1270 with a coat hanger hook at the end. I think we used some bamboo fishing poles but it was a while ago so that might be wrong. Here comes the fancy part. After much trial and error we discovered that it was best to get the hook in contact with the bag and then rotate the hook around a few times so the bag becomes twisted around it and then pull with gentle but firm pressure. We made it so the end of the hook was blunt, posibly by bending the coat hanger back on itself, to decrease the chance that the bag would rip before it was completely wrapped around the hook. Best of luck from one bag fisher to another!
posted by rip at 8:47 PM on December 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

For the record, there was a great episode of 30 Rock about obsessive nature tree-bound plastic bags can cause. Might be a good thing to watch after you get the bag out of the tree.
posted by buttercup at 8:56 PM on December 20, 2014 [5 favorites]

Haha, buttercup, I thought the same thing!

"That's right, Liz, bags have genitals!" ~the bag
posted by bird internet at 3:46 AM on December 21, 2014 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: As the OP, I like jon1270's idea. It actually seems doable and cheap. The crux will be the hook. I'm thinking of taping one of those gardening claw things to the end. It's been very cold around here (-10°C or so) so the idea of standing out there swatting at a plastic bag right now is not attractive. On the other hand, as I said in the post, it's only visible during the winter when there are no leaves on the tree (and it's cold). I will attempt it March or April when it's warmer and only the buds are out. Earlier if we get a warm streak.
The topic, I suspect, will probably be closed by then, but I will try to get a moderator to open it for me so I can report on my actual success or lack thereof and add a "resolved" tag to it.
I love the Bag Snagger! No price listed. We have a pruner. It is long, but not long enough and too heavy to manipulate.
rip, thank you very much for the tip, because I pictured a coat hanger just tearing through or shredding the plastic.
buttercup, I will definitely look up the "30 Rock" episode. Missed that one.
posted by feelinggood at 2:04 PM on January 19, 2015

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