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How to Recycle or Reuse Anything

20 Ways to Reuse Old Plastic (and Paper) Bags

Turn them into trash bags for the car, wrap drinking glasses with them when moving, and more.


Paper Bags

1. An Everymom standby: Use grocery bags to make schoolbook covers your kids can label and decorate to their art’s delight. They’ll protect the books from the mozzarella that falls from the pizza or the exploding highlighter in the backpack.

2. Cut out eyeholes and decorate the bag to make a mask. The shape cries out SpongeBob.

3. Enlist bags with handles for trick-or-treat duty. Let the kids have at them with glitter and glue, markers and paints, stickers, and anything else in the art box.

4. Make place mats kids can color on while waiting for dinner, just like in those family-friendly restaurants.

5. Place unripe peaches, plums, or green tomatoes in a bag. The closed bag traps ethylene, the natural gas released by the ripening fruit (while still allowing a little ventilation), which helps it ripen faster.

6. Make a kite. Punch a hole in each corner of the open end of a bag. Tie a long piece of string in each hole, gather the ends, and glue some streamers onto the open end. The natural shape of the bag will catch the wind, which will lift it into the air.

7. To add an extra layer of weed deterrence to your garden, place plain bags, with no dye, on the soil around plants before adding mulch.

8. Stand paper bags upright and use them as receptacles for separating recyclables.

9. Crumple a bag into a tight ball and use it to dab paint on your walls for a great faux-textured finish.

10. Cut bags into strips, then use tape to make chains of interlaced circles for party decorations. Colors are nice, of course, but grocery-bag brown may just fit your theme (Save the Earth, Willy Wonka Wonderland…).

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