Monday, June 29, 2009

Plastic Bags ... by Kelli

After the plastic bag challenge, our bloggy friend Kelli, from Thoughts of a Sober White Women, had a couple of interesting things to share. The first was a post she did about a recent trip to the beach. Kelli, on a regular basis, walks the beach and ... cleans up trash as she goes. On this particular trip, she took pictures and then wrote about what she found. It is a real eye-opener:

Next, Kelli shared one of the ways in which she uses plastic bags. While she says "no" to plastic or paper and uses a reusable bag, she explains that friends and family aren't as conscientious as she is so ... a few bags make their way into her home. With a true recycler's heart, she has found a way to repurpose these bags. Well ... here ... I'll let her tell you all about it (and be sure to check out the pictures at the end of the post):


I do not write an eco blog, but I make an eco entry once a week, and I do an eco friendly Friday tip of the day on face book.

So when I was asked about some of the ways I reuse my plastic bags I was happy to share them with everyone.

Let me first say that I only use reusable when I shop, but the rest of my family and our friends bring in plastic bags. This is where I get my all my plastic bags from.

First of all lay all of your bags out and separate them by which store they came from. You will notice that some are smaller and thinner than others. Once you have the bags separated you can do so many things with them.

You can cut them up and make Plarn. Once you make the Plarn you can knit or crochet them into anything that you would like. Last year for Christmas my girlfriend made me a crochet rug from the plarn and I loved it! If you have never made Plarn I would suggest watching a youtube video on it. There are so many out there, so watch several of them and see which one you like the most.

I also take my bags and fuse them together. This is where separating the bags comes in handy. I take a stack of bags and I cut off the bottoms and the handles. Please make sure you recycle them! Then I line my ironing board with wax paper. You can also use parchment paper or regular paper, but I like wax paper the best. Then place your stack of bags between sheets of wax paper and iron them together. Sometimes you have to turn the stack over and never leave the iron the one spot. I have seen videos where they say to make sure that the printed side does not face the iron, but I have not noticed a difference.

Now you may be asking how many bags do I iron together? That is a good question. The video I watched said to use eight, but I thought it was a little too thick so I use four bags. If the bags are thick bags then I only use one. This is really a system of trial and error. If you mess up or you don't like the way it turns out then you can recycle the bags.

I am a quilter so I look at my fused bags as material. I cut them down into same size squares and I then sew them together to make a rug. Just a little note. The plastic does fine on a sewing machine, but it will dull your needle.

The last thing I do with my bags is I cut them up as if I was going to make Plarn. I decided from there how long I want something to be. Example: if you are going to make a jump rope then you want it to be longer then a rug.

I am working on a rug right now. To make a braided rug just figure out how long you want it and then take three strands and tie a knot in one end. Then just braid it down until you reach the end and then tie another knot. I will then take the braids and tie them together with another piece of plastic.

If you do a youtube search you can find so many neat things to do with your plastic braids. I usually watch several and then take a little something from all the videos. I think it is important to be creative and just go by trial and error. If you get frustrated don't give up, just try something different.

So how do wash a plastic rug? Well, all I do is dunk them in my mop bucket, rinse them and then hang them up to dry. There is no major work involved.

Where would you use a plastic rug? I have one under our litter box and one by our trash can.

When do I find the time to do all of this? That is a good question. I am a very busy stay at home, and I have four teenagers in the house, so I don't have a ton of time. I make plarn while I am watching t.v. I iron my bags when I am ironing other stuff. I just find a way to work everything in.

We just talked about plastic grocery bags but lets not forget that our bread bag, some newspapers come in plastic bags, or any old zip lock bags that you have can also be cut up. If it is a plastic bag then you can make Plarn out of it.

Some of the other way's I use my bags:

1. I keep all my plastic silverware in a bread bag. I do not use plastic silverware but when other people bring it I wash it and keep it. I will usually end up sending into my son's teacher so she can use it for class parties.

2. I also keep my Campbell soup labels and box top for education in a grocery bag.

3. I keep a couple of the thicker bags in with my reusable bags in case I run out of bags.

4. I use them to carry wet clothes in.

Here is a link that has some really good uses for those plastic bags, and it also talks about a lot of the stuff I have mentioned.

This is my fused rug. My daughters think it looks so cool! LOL

This is the rug that my girlfriend made for me. I love it!

This is what the strings look like before they are tied together.

Wasn't that great? We try to avoid plastic bags altogether ... but when a plastic bag finds it's way into your life, it's important to use it for as long as possible before recycling it or tossing it out. Since plastic bags take forever to biodegrade, I think Kelli's "rugs" will last for a long time.

Thanks, Kelli!


  1. Wow that is interesting I have never heard of that before.


  2. For an intersting picture of plastic bags check out this blog

  3. fantastic! for those who can barely thread a needle, another easy reuse for plastic bags is for produce - giant bags of strawberries? lettuce that just got sprayed with water? leaky poultry from the grocery store?

    thanks for sharing!

  4. Kelli,

    I saw a post similar to yours, may be it was yours.

    Great idea to make things that would be thrown out.

    Ann :)

  5. excellent post with some very creative ideas! i only use fabric reusable bags for shopping but plastic bags do creep into my life...

  6. that was absolutely fantastic!! and i really admire kelli for putting in the effort to do all this :) she's awesome!

  7. i love my reusable bags and am trying to wean my hubby off his plastic bag habit. and as for the beach clean up, i found a wine called barefoot that actually organizes people to make beaches. can't beat a good wine and a good cause!

  8. For people who bring reusable bags to the supermarket, what do you use to take out your kitchen garbage? I always ask for paper and plastic at the supermarket, and re-use those bags for garbage bags. Our kitchen garbage can is simply a wire rack that holds plastic bags. I feel a little guilty asking for plastic bags at the supermarket, and I know there is a movement to outlaw them, but if I did not re-use those grocery bags for garbage bags, I would have to buy plastic bags to use for the garbage or I would have to buy a trash can for the kitchen and wash it out whenever I took out the garbage. Wouldn't those alternatives be just as wasteful?

  9. Hi Joe,

    Thanks for your comments. Using plastic bags as garbage liners is the number one reason why many people still accept plastic bags. The problem is that those bags are a petroleum based product and don't biodegrade. In fact, plastic will break down, becoming small pellets which enter waterways and the food chain. One possible solution would be to use Eco-bags which are biodegradable. If you'd like to learn a bit more about them, please see this article:

    Thanks for your comments!