Paper or plastic?

You’re faced with this question every time you pay a visit to the grocery store. Unless of course you live in places like Chicago, Los Angeles or San Francisco – cities that have banned single-use plastic bags in favor of more environmentally friendly options like reusable plastic or even paper bags.

The goal?

To reduce the use of carryout plastic bags from grocery stores and other retail outlets, as well as keep them from ending up in the environment. Plastic bags affect the environment in a serious way. They pollute our oceans and kill marine life that mistake plastic bags for food. On land, plastic bags get into soil and slowly release toxic chemicals.

Plastic bags are one of the most commonly littered items on Earth. More than 100 billion of them are used each year in the United States alone. And on a global scale, 8 million tons of plastic waste is dumped into our oceans every year.

Unfortunately, only one to three percent of all plastics used are recycled. The good news is that there are many things you can do with plastic grocery bags if your city hasn’t already banned them.

DIY Plastic Bag Project Ideas

Fuse Plastic Bags to Make Coasters

Plastic Bag Coasters

Don’t forget to work in a well ventilated area as melting plastic can give off fumes.

Keep your table free from water rings by sliding a coaster under your cup or glass. Don’t have any? All you need is some plastic bags and an iron. Follow these steps to keep your table looking brand-new:

  1. Find a round object the size of a coaster and use it to trace circles on your plastic bags.
  2. Lay a piece of un-printed paper on an ironing board.
  3. Place your pieces of cut-out plastic on top of the paper.
  4. Cover the plastic with another piece of paper.
  5. Iron each side for 10 to 15 seconds.

Turn a Grocery Bag Into a Bracelet

Plastic Bag Bracelet

Impress your family and friends with a unique and environmentally friendly bracelet.

Impress your family and friends with a stylish new bracelet made entirely out of the grocery bag you just carried your food in. Cut out three strips equal in size and tie them in a knot. From there, braid the strips. Once braided, tie the ends together and cut off the extra plastic. Voila!

Create a Jump Rope

Do you have kids that love to jump rope? Keep them happy, as well as the environment, with a jump rope made out of plastic. It’s a good form of exercise and it won’t cost you a thing.

Make a Tote-ally Awesome Reusable Bag

Rather than dishing out cash for a tote bag at stores like Target and Wal-Mart, why not make your own at home? All you need are the plastic bags you left the grocery store with.

Plastic Tote Bag

Image: My Recycled Bags

Learn how to turn your plastic bags into a tote bag you can use as a beach bag or a reusable shopping bag.

Craft a Basket Out of Plastic

Plastic Bag Basket

Instead of throwing out your plastic bags, turn them into a basket for your home and use it for disposing of trash or a place to store dirty laundry.

In this recycled plastic bag project, you’ll need a lot of bags and time to weave them all into a sturdy basket.

Take a look at the Green Living section of our blog for more tips on living sustainably and making a positive impact on your environment. Have some more plastic bag project ideas? Share them in the comments below!