The Plastic Bag Dilemma: Seven Strategies for Coping
Doing your best to remember cloth totes, but forgetting them from time to time? Is your storage container for those plastic grocery bags overflowing? Your secret is safe with me. Let’s see what we can do to put them to use.
1. Make a kite.
This is way easier than you might think. A little string, a couple of BBQ sticks, some tape, a twig or pencil, scissors and a plastic bag. That’s about it. Here’s a link that’s very similar to a design I used to use in the classroom. To save pennies though, I’d use just a pencil or a stick for the string holder. No need for the technical little gadget. The string can unroll through your fingers as the wind is taking up the kite. Bonus? No more paying for expensive store kits that break right away, leaving the kids frustrated and you even more so. Kite blew away or got stuck in a tree? No problem. You can avert toddler trauma on the cheap and easy with things you already have around the house. Woohoo!
2. Stuff some accent pillows.
I picked this little tip up from a fellow expat teacher in the Gulf. She loved, as I do, to pick up colorful pillow cases as a way to textile shop on the cheap when she traveled. She also, as I always did, had a strict shipping allowance whenever she moved. Rather than spend money on foam filled pillow inserts, she always took her extra plastic bags, crumpled them up, and used them to stuff the accent pillows on the sofa and other pieces of furniture. Not exactly comfortable for sleeping pillows, but for the ones you only use for “show” this is a really money saver. Other plastic toting items can work as well. Bonus? Whenever she moved, she already had a fair sized supply of packing medium.
3. Fill out your curtain valances.
Obviously, this only works if you like the look of a fuller valance or window topper. But if you do, again this will ensure you’ll have some packing medium for your glassware when you move.
4. Dealing with on the road pet issues.
On our cross country trip with the dogs, we had to develop our share of tricks. This was one of them. Put the bag on your hand, grab the goods, turn it inside out, and tie it off. Then hunt for your friendly neighborhood trash can.
5. Faux painting tool.
Doesn’t get much cheaper than this. Here’s a link.
6. Use the small trash can plan.
You have to admit, it’s affordable. No more buying the small size.
7. Take them down for the count.
Actually, this idea was contributed by a reader who commented on my ten ways to go green and save post. The basic idea is to keep a tally chart on the bag each time you re-use them. It was also recommended to keep a stash of the plastic ones inside one or two of your larger, sturdier cloth totes. This keeps space to a minimum, supplements the up front cost of the cloth bags, and keeps them all together for when you actually do remember to bring the bags with you into the store.
I know with several suggestions on this list that the bags will eventually end up in a landfill. However, if I can at least put them to some use before they get there, I personally feel a little bit better about the times I forget the cloth bags and end up bringing home a few plastic ones. These are my favorite picks. Of course I would love to hear from you as usual. Pop me a note, post-related or otherwise.