plastic…. shopping bags… are not my…. friends….

Today’s blogging challenge is to write about plastic shopping bag. Well, it’s supposed to be a gratitude, but, honestly, I can’t find very much about plastic shopping bags that I like.

Plastic shopping bags were invented in the early 1960s by a Swedish engineer named Sten Gustaf Thulin. Those bags are made from a material called polyethylene, which was discovered by chemists by accident in 1933. Some people claim that plastic bags were manufactured to save the environment because people were using a lot of paper bags, and trees were being cut down so that stores could pack groceries in paper bags.

In the United States, plastic shopping bags became common in the 1980s. At first, they were not popular because they didn’t hold their contents as well as paper bags in vehicles. Supposedly, people in cities liked to carry plastic bags home after a shopping trip but that is hard to believe because plastic bags tend to twist around your wrist as you are walking, which means that you are risking getting your circulation cut off by your shopping bag. Personally, I am not a fan of having a shopping bag that cuts off my circulation. I am very fond of my hands and I like them to be intact. Not only that but plastic bags tend to be flimsy. Since they are frequently overfilled, the bags have a bad habit of tearing. And then breaking, spewing their contents everywhere. That could be a problem if you are walking three miles and you are carrying… eggs. I don’t know about you, but I’m also not really a fan of… prescrambled eggs!!! And on the road! Road eggs, anyone?

There are actually benefits to plastic bags, however. As much as I’d like to say that single use plastic shopping bags have no redeeming value whatsoever, I would probably be wrong. One benefit of plastic bags is that they are good for cleaning litter boxes.

Cats appreciate a nice, clean litter box.

Also, they are good for cleaning up after dogs when you and your dog are out for a walk. Everyone appreciates that. No one wants to step in… never mind. And they are a nice, inexpensive way to line small trash cans.

But those benefits don’t make up for the fact that plastic bags are made of a material that simply does not break down. It takes a single use plastic bag 1,000 years to break down, all the while leaching toxic stuff into the soil. Having lots of nonbiodegradable stuff in a landfill is generally considered a bad idea.

Another drawback is that many of the plastic bags end up in waterways, where they cause hazards for marine life. I have to admit that I prefer fish to plastic bags.

So what can be done with plastic bags to keep them around for a while and out of landfills and waterways? 

Or maybe, you just want to lessen the impact of large quantities of plastic bags in your house. You might have discovered that they are sort of like creatures in horror movies. They take over your house, spending every night mating and reproducing. You wake up in the morning and you discover that your home is loaded down with paper bags, almost to the point of sinking into the earth. How do you get rid of those Bags from the Underworld? You could recycle them. That could work. Just take them to the supermarket and dump them in one of those big boxes at the door of the supermarket. Or you could repurpose them. You could actually make stuff with them. 

If you have an enormous quantity of plastic bags, there are a few things that you could make with them. One would be sleeping mats for the homeless. Apparently, the sleeping mats are relatively comfortable and they will last for a while. Another project that you could make with large numbers of plastic bags would be a basket. This is kind of a time consuming project but you will end up with a basket for storing dirty laundry or other stuff. And if you use colorful plastic bags, you will end up with a very attractive basket. You could make coasters, bracelets, or jump ropes. Or you could make a reusable bag out of single use plastic bags. Maybe that reusable bag is more user friendly than those diabolical single use bags.

Here is a link to some suggestions for creative projects with plastic bags. Oh, and by the way, if you want to crochet with plastic bags, instead of yarn, you can do that. It is actually called “plarn.” link to five recycled plastic bag projects.

Here is another link for you. It has a collection of things that you can make from plastic bags, including jewelry, coasters, flower pots, pencil pouches, and more. link to a site that tells you how to upcycle plastic bags.

So have fun with those plastic bags and turn them into something else. Something really fun or something really useful and something really colorful. You could have a great time creating some fun object, while you are keeping plastic bags out of landfills and waterways.

6 thoughts on “plastic…. shopping bags… are not my…. friends….”

  1. I have a big canvas grocery store with 2 sections, 3 insulated cooler bags plus a variety of canvas bags bags in the back of our truck for shopping. They work great because I can put the milk and meats in one cooler bag, the frozen things in another and normal groceries in the big divided tote.

  2. I didn't know about this prompt, but I must have been on a similar wavelength to you (your post is a lot more comprehensive, though). You'd be surprised how many people in my area are unhappy about the whole thing, although I didn't blog about that. I linked to this post in my post.

  3. Something I wanted to add. I think the original bags from the 80’s were more durable. The ones now rip so easily. My friend who helps with a group that makes quilts for the homeless may be interested in the mat idea, if I can find information.

  4. At least you were able to come up with some constructive and creative uses for those bags! Our local park has little recycle bins on a pole for them – for the dog walkers who've run out of their own, they can just grab one from there. I haven't yet tried to crochet with them, but I do use them to line small trash cans and as trash containers in the car, especially on road trips. I am trying to remember to take with me the multi-use sacks, more often. And some stores are now offering paper sacks, by default (you can ask for plastic if you prefer it, at most of them, but it's not even offered). I have some metal straws and silicone straws (the latter, being wider and non-stick, are better for milkshakes or smoothies). The only problem there is to break the habit of throwing them out with the cup. Not sure that's a whole lot better for the environment. 😉

  5. I like bags of all sorts. But, I recognize that these bags often end up in our waterways- where they only create havoc.

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