What can I do with my hundreds of grocery bags?
April 8, 2008 9:12 PM   Subscribe

What are some good uses for plastic grocery bags?

We've got a ton of plastic bags at our house that just sit in the cupboard waiting to be used as lunch bags or trash can liners, but we're getting them faster than we use them.

I was wondering if anybody had some useful/creative things that they can be used for around the house, other than lunches or trash bags.
posted by bigtalldave101 to Home & Garden (22 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
One of my crafty friends knit them into a kimono. Alas, she doesn't have a picture online.
posted by louche mustachio at 9:17 PM on April 8, 2008

make them become better plastic bags
posted by ddaavviidd at 9:21 PM on April 8, 2008 [6 favorites]

If you literally have hundreds, is there a grocery store or supermarket nearby that accepts them for recycling?
I've used them to stuff around items boxed for shipping... To give body to the inside of a Cat-in-the-Hat hat and make it stand up straight...
Back when I owned an actual cat, I filled up a zippered pillowcase with them because he seemed to enjoy the sound they made as he got comfortable on this "nest."
Or, if your neighborhood is full of dogwalkers who are too lazy to bring their own bags and regularly neglect to pick up after their beasts and you're tired of them polluting your lawn or curb, put one of those cheap baggie-dispensers within their reach. I've put one of these on the chain link fence facing the alley behind my property and I use up those baggies this way too.
Lastly, would it help to ask for paper bagging the groceries whenever possible, assuming your grocery store has that option?
posted by skyper at 9:26 PM on April 8, 2008

We use them (with a cup) for scooping up dog poop. Also, if you put the kid's foot in the bag first, and then try to get the snow boots on, they glide right on and off.

Don't use the same bag for the poop and then for the boot, though. Use different bags.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 9:28 PM on April 8, 2008 [3 favorites]

Make it a goal not to accept any plastic bags that stores try to give you. If you haven't already, get some sturdy canvas bags for your groceries. I also carry a mesh bag in my purse to use for small purchases. Sometimes I get brown paper bags and then either compost, reuse or put other recyclables in them.

A lot of thrift stores (mainly the Salvation Army stores, where I live) use only plastic bags that people donate and they run out from time to time and put a sign on the door asking for people to bring in bags. Maybe call your local thrift stores and see if they can use some of your old bags?
posted by pluckysparrow at 9:40 PM on April 8, 2008 [1 favorite]

Most Dog Parks in my area (SF) have a dispenser which can be filled with these.

With the plastic ban in effect in SF its now an appreciated gesture.
posted by bitdamaged at 9:46 PM on April 8, 2008

seconding pluckysparrow.

i had the same problem with plastic bags, but since investing in some canvas bags, rarely ever obtain more plastic bags. i keep the bags in my car so that if i'm out and need them, i have them with me.

as for using the bags you do have...i have nothing more creative than using them as bathroom garbage bags.
posted by gursky at 9:48 PM on April 8, 2008

You can crochet them into reusable plastic bags. Or other things...
posted by needs more cowbell at 10:05 PM on April 8, 2008 [1 favorite]

They work well as padding for mailed packages.
posted by andythebean at 10:13 PM on April 8, 2008

I use them as trash bags (you may need a different size of trash container to make this work). The nice thing is that I use them up as trash bags at about the same rate as they come in to the house as grocery bags, so there is no mountain of bags threatening to take over my closet. Environmentally, I prefer to re-use the grocery bags, rather than buy new bags and recycle the grocery bags.

Here is an example of a trash container made for using grocery store bags, on sale for $3.99.

Googling "grocery bags rug" turns up many pages of directions for crocheting/weaving extra bags into funky rugs.

Here is a tutorial on crocheting old grocery bags into a reusable market bag, which seems fitting.
posted by Forktine at 10:31 PM on April 8, 2008

Food banks and other places that give out food often need bags to put the food in.
posted by jeri at 10:49 PM on April 8, 2008

Thrift and second-hand stores will take them. Why are you getting them faster than you can use them? Why not re-use them for shopping?
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 11:45 PM on April 8, 2008

We fill them with cat poo from scooping the litterbox, but if you have neither cats nor dogs, nor wish to use them for your own trash, some grocery stores have collection points out front where they accept them for recycling (mine does).

But as has been said, they oughtn't be mounting at such an astronomical rate. Really, your grocery must offer inexpensive reusable bags for sale... I don't think I've been in one that doesn't for quite some time. So, buy some! And if you find yourself at the store without them, buy some more! Then you'll have some to keep in your car against the next time you forget to take them with you.

Plastic bags are a fucking blight, but I was never so religious about it until I saw the information visualization work of the artist Chris Jordan. Seriously, the Road to Goddamned Damascus. Get a sense of the grotesque scale and pace of human consumption. Plastic bags are about 3/4 down the page, but pause to consider the cellphones, too, among others.
posted by mumkin at 12:29 AM on April 9, 2008 [2 favorites]

Mine usually go to cat litter, for which they work wonderfully.

But I'll second the suggestion that you see if there are any charities around that could use them. For example, if you were by some chance in Pittsburgh, I'd suggest you bring them over to the needle exchange I volunteer at, which is always in need of plastic bags.
posted by Stacey at 4:05 AM on April 9, 2008

The used book store around here always accept those bags. Yours might too!
Bonus! an excuse to visit the used book store.
posted by meeshell at 5:39 AM on April 9, 2008

My local library accepts them for others to use to carry home their books. Also, I use reusable shopping bags for groceries, but plastic bags for trash, so I occasionally run low and have to beg some off of my co-workers. I live alone so they're the perfect size for my trashcan. Perhaps you know someone like me?
posted by jrichards at 6:16 AM on April 9, 2008

Best answer: Haha, this is what it says on the side of the Target bag:


10 Ways to Reuse Your Target Bag
1. Tiny Trashcan Liner
2. Doggy Duty
3. Water Balloon
4. Roadtrip Rubbish
5. Soggy Laundry
6. Ice Pack for Head Lump
7. Toiletry Tote
8. Kitty Litter Liner
9. Tomorrow's Lunchbag
10. Care Package Padding

WARNING: To avoid danger of suffocation, keep this plastic bag away from babies and children. Do not use this bag in cribs, carriages, beds or playpens. ;)
posted by Roger Dodger at 6:51 AM on April 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

My friend who is rehabbing a house says that he is going to use plastic bags from friends and family to insulate his walls because he can't afford to enough insulation to do the job. Don't know if this is logical or even safe but there you go. He's an architect and carpenter so I assume he's considered the obvious issues.

Plastic bags are a blight, I agree. I was almost killed by one in Transylvania. I thought it was a vampire bat and almost drove off a cliff.
posted by metajc at 9:52 AM on April 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

We use 'em for dog poop bags. No cup though. Just stuff the hand in there, use it as our "glove" to grab the poop. Turn the bag inside-out. Presto-change out! Clean hand, collected poop. All good.

If there's a lot of poop in the yard sometimes I'll use two bags to be more "economical" One hand has the bag as the glove, the other hand has the bag as the collector of dung. Wahlah!

Of course if we didn't have dogs, we'd be in the same situation you are in. Sitting in our cupboard collecting dust. My final recommendation to you then is to get a dog! ;)
posted by mrzer0 at 10:23 AM on April 9, 2008

If you enjoy crafting, there's a wonderful blog called My Recycled Bags that will inspire you.

All these people using them for dog poop must have better quality bags than I ever get. 9 out of 10 of mine have holes in them
posted by happyturtle at 11:17 AM on April 9, 2008

if you have a dog, stick one in your pocket when you go on walks. use them for garbage bags, or recycle them. I know walmart has recycling boxes you can put them in, in my area at least.
posted by whiskey point at 7:07 PM on April 9, 2008

Take them to any local dog park. Most have a place to put bag collections for use by visitors.
posted by Four Flavors at 3:23 PM on April 10, 2008

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