I grew up in Canada, so we were used to recycling almost everything. I admit I have become quite slack in the recycling process — simply because it has not been as convenient to recycle living here in the USA.
I definitely want to find a way to get better at recycling. Now more than ever, because I want to teach my son to recycle whenever possible.
I’m a huge fan of repurposing items. For example, I like to reuse plastic shopping bags instead of throwing them away or allowing them to become clutter in a cupboard somewhere.
I’m going to show you how to roll plastic bags and make a DIY plastic bag dispenser that requires nothing other than plastic shopping bags and a rubber band!
How To Roll Plastic Bags
I like to reuse plastic shopping bags from my weekly grocery trips (Walmart grocery pick up), trips to the dollar store, and visits to other department stores.
Here’s how to roll plastic bags into organized, self-dispensing bundles:
- Immediately after unpacking all the items you bought, gather up all of the the plastic shopping bags. (If you don’t do it immediately after, the bags will wind up in a cupboard creating unnecessary clutter.)
- Lay the plastic bags flat. Then, fold them in half — aligning all of the handles together.
- With the top bag, fold the handles up — to make a 90-degree angle.
- Then, start rolling half of the folded bag.
- Place another folded bag — with the handles overlapping the bottom of the first (halfway folded) bag.
- Continue rolling and merging the plastic shopping bags together this way. (Repeat the process — adding one bag at a time until you are out of bags and all of your bags are neatly rolled around each other.)
- Secure your plastic bag roll with a rubber band.
- The handles sticking out of your new roll of bags will be the first bag you pull out, the next time you need a bag.
As you pull one bag out, it will self-dispense by pulling the handles of the next bag out of the roll.
Your rolls of plastic shopping bags will stay neat and compact, and they can really fit anywhere for easy access wherever you are.
So that’s how to roll plastic bags!… This video shows a similar way of folding plastic bags into their own self-dispensing plastic bag storage bundles:
You can see how folding plastic bags in a clever way makes it easy to put them in your own plastic bag dispenser (or just secure them with a rubber band) — so you can access them as needed for other uses around the house & on the go!
Places To Keep Your DIY Bag Rolls + Clever Uses For Plastic Bags
Now that you know how to roll plastic bags yourself, you’re probably wondering where you should keep your bag rolls.
I keep my plastic bag rolls in lots of different locations — so they’re handy whenever I happen to need a bag.
These are some of the places I like to keep my compact rolls of shopping bags, and how I like to reuse them:
- In the car (behind the seat in the pouch). They’re great for dirty diapers, travel trash, back-up dog waste bags, a way to transport a dirty, wet towel (if one of the dogs got into something nasty or wet).
- In the outdoor baby stroller. Sometimes, trash will blow into the yard. Having a bag on hand makes it easy to pick up trash without touching it. I also make the rounds looking for weeds in my flower beds — a plastic bag is a great resting place for weeds (instead of in the yard trying to multiply itself with its seeds). I also attach a plastic bag to the yard stroller — to collect pine cones, broken branches, and anything else to be burned in a yard brush fire.
- By the kitty litter box. I usually double-bag and place the clumped, dirty cat litter inside a plastic bag. I also tie up the bag and throw it away in the garage — to reduce odor.
- In the bottom of the bathroom waste baskets. I don’t like to buy waste basket liners, so I keep a plastic bag roll in the bottom of the basket and reuse my plastic bags as a trash can liner. This way, there is always a new bag ready whenever I empty the trash.
- Inside our luggage. On trips, we put our accumulated dirty laundry in these reusable bags. We also use them to pack shoes and to keep shoes & dirty laundry separate from our clean clothes.
- In the garage / workshop. We use the plastic bags whenever we are painting. A plastic bag will keep paint fresh in a tray for a few days (if you wrap airtight). We also use plastic bags to wrap paint brushes and rollers — if we plan to come back to the same color painting project. As long as the plastic bag is tightly wrapped, it will keep the paint and brush (or roller) ready to resume painting without having to clean them every time.
- As back-up dog waste bags. I generally use Gorilla dog waste bags to pick up dog waste, but sometimes I don’t have one handy. Plastic bags are fine to use — you just need to double-bag and watch for holes in the bag (so your fingers don’t end up touching dog poop). I also use the plastic bags to line an old lobster pot outside to keep the dog waste in until garbage day.
- As a knee protector. Daily, I push baby in the yard stroller and look for dog waste to pick up or weeds to pull. When pulling weeds or doing yard work after it has rained, the plastic bags come in handy to keep my knees from getting wet or muddy. I simply put a hole in the bottom of the bag, stick my foot through it, pull the bag to my knee and tie the handles behind my knee to keep the bag in place!
- As toilet brush & plunger covers. With baby more mobile than ever, I wrap and cover the toilet brush and plunger in plastic bags as a preventative measure for curious fingers. (It’s not pretty, but it’s better than not knowing if he was playing with either of those items — and it’s only temporary.)
So… now you can show someone else how to roll plastic bags and fun ways to save money by reusing plastic shopping bags!
Some people get really creative with their upcycling and repurposing of plastic bags. I’ve seen creative DIY bags, mats, bracelets, etc. I may revisit those ideas when I’m doing fun arts & crafts projects with baby, once he gets older.
I hope these ideas will help inspire you to reuse your plastic shopping bags — or at least recycle them.
Find your closest plastic bag recycling facility.