If you are like my family and have your groceries delivered, you are likely to have a mountainous pile of reusable shopping bags at home! We always request paper shopping bags to cut down on our plastic use, but the sheer number of paper bags that we acquire is a little scary from a sustainability perspective. We really don’t need new bags for each shop, but using home delivery is a convenience that is a huge time saver for our busy family. The question is, how can we repurpose these bags in preference to putting them straight into the recycling bin? Although recycling is a great option for waste management, it is useful to consider if and how our items can be reused or repurposed as a first step. Here are some ideas that might work for your family:
One – Weed mat for your garden
A close friend of mine shared a great gardening hack with me – to use paper shopping bags as weed mat. Simply weed an area of garden, cut the shopping bags so they are flat, lay in the soil and cover with mulch to stop them blowing away! The bags will decompose into the garden, while delaying those annoying weeds from coming back at the same time. I put this trick to test in my native garden bed with great results.
Two – Imaginary shopping play
My kids are always excited to acquire a new shopping bag each week to add to their toy grocery shop. To boost their shopping experience, we also give them used packaging items such as milk bottles, egg cartons, toothpaste boxes and cereal boxes for a realistic shopping experience. This is a cost-effective way to create an imaginary play experience and reduces the need to buy new toys.
Three – Storage
The paper shopping bags make a great storage solution for all sorts of items. Our most common use is to store toys. They are handy to store Duplo, train tracks, cars and more, neatly on the toy shelf. Although I must admit, the neatness never lasts more than a blink of an eye. The kids love tipping out the toys from the bags to hear the big crash and to see the toys explode over the room!
We also store other items like Christmas decorations and scrap paper for art in the bags. Using paper bags for storage reduces the need to use plastic tubs and is a great way to cut back on your plastic use.
Four – Give them away
Charity stores are often looking for bags to package their sales into. My local Op Shops informed me they are always happy to accept reusable shopping bags to use for their customers. Paper and plastic reusable bags are both accepted.
Another option is to place a free ad on Gumtree or Facebook Market Place to see if anyone in the community needs some extra bags. Also posting in your local Buy Nothing Suburb or Garden group is a great way to rehome them for further use.
Five – Package items for sale
I sell many items on Gumtree that we no longer use. The paper shopping bags make the perfect packaging for both storage and sales. I store bundles of items such as baby clothes in a paper shopping bag, and label the bag so I know its contents later. I simply leave the bag by our front door for contactless collection when convenient for the buyer. This keeps the item clean from dust on the doorway and is easy for the buyer to transport home.
Six – Craft
There are several craft projects that paper shopping bags can be used for including:
- cut into flat segments to use for drawing or painting;
- use the short side of the bags to make birthday cards; or
- cut the bags into strips to make paper chains to decorate your home for Christmas (see my Christmas article for ideas) or parties.
The options are endless!
Seven – Shopping
This one is a little obvious, but of course the bags can be reused when you are in the supermarket (or any shop) in person. I always keep a stash in the boot of our car so we don’t need to purchase more bags.
Eight – Holidays
The bags can be used to pack items for your next trip. Perhaps use them for your shoes to keep the rest of your boot clean from any dirt. Or make toy bags so the kids can fill their own bag with their favourite items to take away with them. They can even be used to store dirty clothes until you find time to wash them.
As you can see, there are a multitude of ways to reuse and repurpose paper shopping bags. By choosing one of these options, or creating your own way to repurpose your bags, you will be making your own Local Impact! If you have any other creative ideas to repurpose shopping bags, let me know in the comments below.
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