Whenever anyone talks about “going greener” one of the first things mentioned is giving up the plastic grocery bags for reusable bags. But, in my opinion, it’s lame to buy another bag, even if it is reusable, when I can make some unique, personalized ones out of stuff I already have or stuff that would get thrown out. Why buy any when I can make them for free, right? I have moderate sewing experience, a flair for breaking conventional rules of sewing, and a general enjoyment of the creative process of designing stuff, which turns out to be a pretty good combination. Anyway, here are some of the ways I have managed to eliminate (almost…) my plastic bag usage.
Reusing old umbrella fabric
After every wind/rain storm around here, there’s always lots of broken, discarded umbrellas either hanging out of trash cans or blowing around sidewalks and streets. Husband and I make a point of rescuing them from the landfill so I can give the fabric tops new life as bags, dismantle the folding arms, and separate out the recyclable pieces. What I like best about these is the lightweight fabric rolls up into a tiny little ball that fits easily in my purse. I always have one on hand, and therefore never have an excuse for bringing one of those hideous plastic bags home. Though, I’ll admit I used a plastic bag as a PATTERN for this one. They are designed really well, actually. They have sturdy, double-layered handles, they expand width-wise, and are just the right size. Except they’re made of plastic, meant for one-time use, and produce a lot of trash and litter, which makes mine way better 🙂
Here are some pictures of one I made, what it looks like open and rolled up:
During the last rain storm in Boston, we collected 13 umbrellas, which now have new life instead of going into a landfill. Check it out:
Old T-shirt bag
This is a great way to keep and use that old favorite t-shirt that no longer fits. And this one’s easy to do in under 5 minutes, with minimal sewing skills, again borrowing ideas from the design of our old friend, the one-time-use plastic bag. Just take an old t-shirt, cut the sleeves off just inside the seams, cut the neck hole a little bigger (this will be the top opening of your bag, sew the bottom shut, and enjoy!
General canvas bag
A little extra canvas and some old fabric scraps make for a fun way to customize what would be an ordinary bag. And, I can make it just the size I want, with just the right length of straps. The remnant place I shop at often has good deals on fabric remnants, and I never know what kinds of crazy stuff I’ll find there. I’ve even been known to find an occasional old ship’s sail. Fun times.
Those ugly recyclable plastic/cloth bags
Somehow, I don’t believe these allegedly #5 recyclable bags can actually be recycled into anything else, I’m pretty convinced they’re toxic to make, and they usually have some hideous logo for something-or-other on them. I only have a few of them because they were given as freebies at work, and I offered to take the extras that no one wanted so they wouldn’t get tossed out. Now, after covering the logos, they’re a little less ugly, and not in a landfill.
So there you have it, 4 reasons to never need a plastic bag again.
What other creative ways have you found to replace plastic bags?