25 Resources to reduce, recycle and reuse plastic grocery bags

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Here 25 of the best resources we’ve located on recycling plastic grocery bags.

Well, in keeping with our core value to “Reduce, Recycle, Reuse”, we’ve actually provided info on all three of these. All are important.

Learn: Learn about the problems caused by plastic grocery bags:

Here are some resources for learning about usage and environmental impacts of the bags:

1. Facts and figures regarding the true cost of plastic bags:


2. Tips on recycling and California’s new law requiring stores to provide for recycling plastic grocery bags:


3. A segment on plastic bags and recycling from MArketplace, the business-focussed radio show:


4. A page describing the Sierra Club’s efforts on recycling plastic grocery bags:


5. A short, academic essay on plastic grocery bags and their environmental impact:


Reduce: How to reduce the number of plastic grocery bags used by yourself and your community

The main way people seem to be working to reduce the usage of plastic grocery bags is through the use of reusable canvas bags.

A more novel approach is the one being followed in San Francisco and in asdfasdfdsf where the cities have passed outright bans on their use. This will be an interesting trend to follow.

6. This site sells reusable shopping bags:


7. The city of San Francisco recently voted to reduce consumption of these bags by outlawing them:


8. This segment from National Public Radio on the San Francisco plastic grocery bag ban:


9. A good article on the plastic grocery bag ban in San Francisco:


10. Here’s more information on the San Francisco plastic grocery bag ban:


11. This article discusses California law AB2449 which requires retailers to sell reusable bags and to provide for recycling of plastic grocery bags:


Recycle: Here’s information on how and where to recycle plastic grocery bags

Many stores now recycle shopping bags. Look for a large bin near the store entrance.

12. If you’re local store doesn’t recycle, use this site to find a recycling location near you:


13. This site offers an opportunity to join with others in making an effort to recycle plastic grocery bags:


14. An article on How to Recycle Plastic Grocery Bags


Reuse: Here are some great resources to give you ideas on how to reuse plastic grocery bags

Reusing the bags is an great idea especially if it allows you to reduce or eliminate some other material you’re currently purchasing.

For example, if you reuse plastic grocery bags as garbage bags and that eliminates your need to buy garbage bags, then that’s a great solution. It saves you money and reduces your impact on the environment.

In some ways, this may be superior to recycling — especially if the item you’re replacing is something that takes a lot of energy to create.

15. Good ideas from Lifehacker:


16. Ideas from teachers on how to reuse bags in classroom supplies or projects


17. Here’s a great list of ideas for using plastic grocery bags around the house.


One interesting use of plastic grocery bags is to use them to crochet or knit with. Here are a number of sites with information on how to do this. The most common item made with these bags is a larger, reusable bag that can be used to carry your groceries in. Now that’s a creative use!

Here are a number of links that use plastic grocery bags as a material for a variety of craft projects.

18. Here’s an interesting technique for fusing the bags together to make a thicker material that can be used to waterproof bags, etc.


19. Here’s an idea and pattern for a plastic tote made from plastic grocery bags


20. More pattern information for making plastic totes from grocery bags


21. A knitting project using plastic grocery bags


22. Another recycled plastic grocery bag tote


23. A similar project on treehugger.com


24. Another site with info on reusing plastic grocery bags


25. Another great collection of ideas for reusing plastic grocery bags


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23 thoughts on “25 Resources to reduce, recycle and reuse plastic grocery bags

  1. does anyone know why Trader Joe’s,
    the most hippy-dippy of all the hippy-dippy grocery stores
    not only uses paper bags instead of plastic
    but on top of that double-bags all your cold food?

    last i had read (granted, some years ago)
    it was impossible to make shopping bags from recycled paper
    because the resulting paper wasn’t strong enough
    and so even though plastic bags were evil
    at least they were recycled into more plastic bags
    and so not a whole lot of new plastic gets produced
    whereas every paper bag made is made from new trees
    instead of from old paper.

    am i out of date on this one?

    (obviously re-usable bags are the best of the three options)

  2. Excellent list. In response to the previous comment, at least paper is biodegradable and doesn’t end up in the sea suffocating marine life, though I take the point made in the comment! I have two fabric bags with me at all times in case of unexpected purchases.

  3. Great post. I used my plastic bags for trash since I had a trash chute down the hall from my apartment and it made taking the trash out each day pretty easy.

    But I saw these Envirosax which sounded interesting since they hold over 2 grocery bags of items each, roll up and are waterproof. They may seem expensive at first but I’ve been using them the past 3 months and it has paid off. Not only am I helping save the environment, they have made my life easier. Rather than having tons of plastic bags that feel like they are ready to break as I carry my groceries to my apartment, they are quite sturdy and balance the weight of the items so it doesn’t feel like I am carrying so much.

    Anyway, that’s my story…If you are looking for a plastic bag alternative or a great gift for someone, check these out.

  4. A lot of the grocery stores where I live are offering reusable bags to customers, for a small fee. The store I usually shop at used to sell heavy-duty plastic bags for something like $0.25 each. They lasted a long time, but they were still plastic. Now, they offer reusable “canvas” bags for $0.99 each. They’re super sturdy, and will pretty much last forever. The best part is, they’re made out of recycled plastic bottles, so they’re both reusable AND recycled! Doubleplus good!

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  6. I use them as trash bags for the small trash cans in the bathroom and bedrooms. When there’s more than I need, I put them in my back seat and take them to the bag recycling thing at the grocery store.

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  10. Paper bags are recyclable, eco-friendly and renewable.

    Yes paper comes from trees but what most people don’t know is that the trees aren’t harvested from some wilderness area, they are grown on farms owned by the paper mills. I know, cause I used to plant those trees. Also, brown paper isn’t bleached like the office paper you use, so nasty chemicals aren’t being pumped into the rivers when it’s made.

    Plastic is not eco-friendly and non-renewable. The recyclable aspect is specious at best. While there are recycling programs available, how many people actually use them? Not enough.

  11. Now here’s something that’s really disturbing me: A good friend who has been active in wildlife and ecological conservation for years told me that the supermarkets DON’T actually recycle those plastic bags that we put in their bins!!

    According to my friend, the practice was never to recycle them, but to sell/send them to countries like China and India. However, if we’ve produced enough plastic to fill the ocean (as one article states), I guess it’s not surprising that we’ve also filled India and China — apparently they don’t need any more of our used bags. So the supermarkets now just dump them.

    Wish I could cite my friend’s source here. I can definitely say she’s an excellent researcher, so I trust her on this. I guess the next step here would be to go to our local supermarkets and ask to know where they “recycle” the bags, then to follow the plastic trail and see whether it leads to the city dump.

  12. I, too, have heard that the so-called recycling that stores such as Wal-mart does when it collects used plastic bags is NOTHING! I have asked at the store, and no one seems to know. I can’t help but to wonder if they just do it to make us feel better about all the plastic bags we are using. I no longer have anything bagged at the stores. I just ask the cashier to return the items to the cart once they are scanned, and when I get to my car, I load all purchases into boxes.

  13. thanks for the article and resources about the problems with plastic bags (which applies to almost all consumer plastics). however, it is kind of disturbing that an article about lessening the environmental impact of plastic bags recommends the use them as trash bags! i mean, even though they are “reused” as trash bags (which is what i used to do before i learned more about them), they are still ending up in the environment/landfills/etc. and all the bad things about throwing them away occur anyway. also, if the bag is intact, any biodegradable trash that is in the bag is prevented from getting the air/soil/water/etc that it needs to bio-degrade in the plastic bag. i urge you to explain this to people and let them know that simply “reusing” the plastic bags as trash bags does not lessen their environmental impact, just their numbers. but we already have more than enough of them ;) please support reusable biodegradable (e.g. canvas) bags for carrying things, and paper and biodegradable plastics for trash.

  14. Yes — I’m still on my Subway kick. You guys might get sick of hearing me squawk about Subway, but for goodness sake, they need to get rid of their plastic bags or introduce bioavailable bags. According to the counterperson the other day, it is store policy to put every sandwich into a plastic bag, whether the person is taking the food with them or eating in the establishment. Come on, Subway! Isn’t that a bit ridiculous. Get with the program. If in-store patrons are going to get a plastic bag, whether they want one or not, at least provide each store with a plastic bag recycle bin for those bags and plastic bottles. I know that one store has got to give away at least 200 bags a day. OK. I’m done…for now. :-)

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