Recycling – getting crafty with plastic bags

(First published August 2007, last updated November 2012)

According to some estimates, Between 500 billion and a trillion plastic grocery bags are used globally each year. The WorldWatch Institute states it takes 430,000 gallons of oil to produce 100 million plastic bags – so that comes to a staggering 4,300,000 gallons or 16,277,270 litres of oil to make a trillion bags.It’s been great to see a concerted effort by many individuals, some towns and states to ban disposable plastic shopping bags; but even if you have e started to kick the disposable plastic bag habit, chances are you may still have a few (dozen/hundred) floating around the place.

If you’re into crafts, you can put these bags to good use so they don’t wind up in landfill. Even if your house is totally a bag free zone and you have the time to spare, get your friends to give you theirs – you’ll be able to create heavy duty reusable shopping bags they can take to the store so they won’t have an excuse for gathering more in the future :).

Firstly, you’ll need to know how to create plastic yarn (Plarn):

If you’d like to learn how to fuse/weld plastic bags to make larger sections of material:

Now that the base materials are sorted out, grab your knitting needles, sewing machine or crochet hooks and check out some of these amazing creations.

How to crochet a reusable shopping bag

Crochet a beach bag

Plastic bag handbag

Throw rug instructions

Plastic Bag Raincoat – clever stuff!

Crochet a Recycled Clothes Pin Bag

Recycled Plastic Bag Purse

Dog Leash from Braided Plastic Bags

Messenger bag (video)

Plastic bag sandals – amazing!

If you’re looking for plastic bag craft ideas suitable for children – a search on Google brings up plenty.

Some other quick tips for using plastic bags:

Door snake: Sew a tube of cloth, cram it full of plastic bags, then sew up the ends. Use it to prevent drafts from gaps under doors.

Packing: Use plastic bags as cushioning material when packing instead of packing peanuts.

Stuffing: Good for restuffing footstools and cushions

Plastic bag litter isn’t just unsightly, in a marine environment plastic bags are particularly destructive, killing at least 100,000 birds, whales, seals and turtles every year according to PlanetArk. Many sea animals mistake the bags for jellyfish, part of their diet. During my professional fishing days, I pulled many bag fragments from the stomachs of sharks and tuna.

Even if the production of plastic bags was banned tomorrow, the legacy of the trillions already created would haunt us for many years; so it’s great to see enterprising people putting them to good use!

Spotted or created something useful/groovy created with plastic bags and would like to share the instructions or a link to instructions with other Green Living Tips readers? Please add it below!