I am just going to come right out and say it I really like plastic shopping bags but not for their intended purpose. I like them because I will admit they can very useful items to have around the house for a variety of reasons. In the spirit of trying to live a greener life I do my best to phase out the use of plastic bags in all their forms but I will be honest enough to admit I don’t always succeed. For me most of the time I simply forget to grab my reusable cloth bags and as much as it annoys me I will take the plastic bags.
So like most people I end up with a big bundle of plastic bags usually underneath my kitchen sink that I have to do something with. I won’t just throw them away because that conflicts with my Reduce, Reuse, Recycle lifestyle so something must be done with them. Overtime I have found a few useful ways in reusing plastics bags in a way that allows multiple uses and sometimes long lifespans.
The first couple I am going to touch on are very obvious but I feel like they need mentioning anyways since people insist on buying custom made single use alternatives when a free plastic bag will work just as well.
Picking Up Poop Twice!!!
So like many American households I have a dog as part of my family. Now since I live in town I must walk my dog as part of her daily exercise routine. Now my dog loves these excursions so much she saves her “special” bowel movements just for these walks if you catch my meaning. Now there are all sorts of products out there for the removal of this poop and some are even eco-friendly biodegradable poop bags. But if you are taking that biodegradable poop and bag and are promptly throwing it in your garbage then you just made the effort to use a compostable bag moot. That's not to say that they aren't a good option, but you should back up the use of that bag by ensuring that the poop is allowed to return back to the earth with natural waste recycling. Ways to successfully and safely return that poop to nature could be a article in itself so I won't go into that any farther.
Now back to the plastic bag.
So you have acquired this free plastic bag as part of your shopping and now you must do something with them. What we do in my house most frequently with them is poop bags for the dog walks. But not only do I use it to pick up the dogs poop but at least once a day I pass the bag off to the lady in my life and she cleans out the cat’s litter box into the same bag. So in one fell swoop the bag has been used a total of three times before it goes into the trash. I know this one is a DUH moment in this article but the fact is you can buy special poop picking up bags and that tells me that maybe it isn’t as clear to everyone as it should be.
Keeping Fresh Baked Goods Moist
I come from a long line of bakers and the best thing about home baked goods is that they are so delicious when compared to store bought goods. They do come with some downsides and the most common one is that they dry out very quickly. I do quite a bit of bread baking and I always struggle to keep the bread moist and delicious. The best way I have found so far is to wrap the baked goodies in a plastic shopping bag. You can usually wrap the bag several times around the baked good and it will keep the moisture trapped inside. This is a good thing for a short time but it can cause it to go bad fast so enjoy your goodies with gusto.
I know that is one is another Duh moment but you can buy custom made containers for breads, cookies and pies that work only for those specific things. To buy something that is dedicated for one purpose is a huge waste of resources and is something that we should get away from as a society.
Mini Greenhouses for Potted Plants
Another great use of plastic bags is mini greenhouses to protect sensitive plants. It works really great in the spring when you have one of those rare spring snow storms and you need to protect those tomato seedlings you just bought and planted. They do work best with some sort of support if they are outside and you will have to secure the bags using twine, bungee cords or rubber bands. They are also a great tool for starting seedlings in a window. You can fit quite a few seedlings under a plastic bag and it helps warm up the soil and keeps it moist enough to trigger seed germination.
Keeping Electronics and Books Dry in Backpacks
I do quite of bit of hiking in my line of work and rain is one of the most annoying things I have to deal with. I will usually bring a book with me to read at lunch and to keep it safe I will wrap is up in a plastic bag. Again this is a obvious one but I am trying to bring up ideas I have actually tested out in my life. This is great method on camping trips to keep matches, books and cell phones, anything that needs to be kept dry away from water that has a way of getting into everything. Those same bags you used to protect your gear on the way in can be then used to haul out trash and dirty wet clothing that you need to keep separated from everything else.
The whole point really of this article is I want you to be able to look at something and think of at least three different uses for whatever it is. This may require stretching your mind a bit past your comfort zone but having a flexible thought process will be a key factor in build a green and sustainable life.
Hello my name is Josh Larson and I am the creator of the Green Living Library. Here on the blog you will find updates to content found in the Green Living Library as well as stories from those living the sustainable life already.