The cupboard under my kitchen sink at home used to be loosely stuffed with reusable bags that I had acquired over the years. Most of them were cheap promotional bags that I got for free - too thin for a serious grocery trip, but too thick to simply use as a disposable garbage bag. I already knew how to recycle reusable bags, but it seemed like a waste to do that with a bag that was used only once.
So I started trying to incorporate them into everyday activities as much as possible, and I was thrilled to discover some great new possibilities for my reusable bags that didn’t involve immediate recycling or the landfill. If you have a stash of your own reusable bags that you don’t know what to do with, hopefully my findings will help you out!
1. Hanging Planter
I’ve seen old bleach and soda bottles used as upside-down planters before, but those systems always require makeshift handles of some kind, plus I don’t find a brightly-labelled bleach bottle to be the most attractive household or garden decoration. But a reusable bag already has handles sewn on, and doesn't look quite so rough as a hacked-up bottle.
2. Beach Tote
In the past I’ve always used my trusty backpack for beach trips, but always hated putting my wet, sandy beach stuff back into it to go home. Instead, now I use an old reusable bag and stop worrying about my high-end backpack! Plus, most reusable bags are made from a fabric that is derived from plastic, so they’re water resistant. This means that my soggy beach clothes won’t soak the car seats on the drive home, and that’s a win for me.
3. Picnic Bag
The reusable bags I get for free are never strong enough to feel safe for a full load of groceries, but they are fine for just carrying a meal or two! An added bonus is that I can toss all the used food containers back into the bag and simply wash it in the sink later - something I never have been able to do with a picnic basket.
4. First Aid Kit
It’s always a good idea to keep a few bandaids and a roll of gauze in the car as a precaution. If you’re anything like me though, your first-aid supplies are dumped in the glove box of your car along with a handful of McDonald’s salt and pepper packets, some spare change, and some old tissues. It’s much easier (and cleaner) to store your first-aid basics in a reusable bag, which will keep them tidily removed from all the other things your car somehow collects.
5. Car Trash Bag
What do you do with a sticky chocolate bar wrapper on a road trip? Or how about a wrapper for the sub you picked up while driving off to visit family? You could stuff your glove box with garbage, but think about how much tidier your car would be if you used a reusable bag for the trash. Plus, you can empty and wash it as many times as you like, keeping your car tidy and fresh.
6. Hobby Bag
My mom is an avid knitter, and always has been. As a kid, I remember taking road trips as a family where the steady click-click of her knitting needles would keep time as the miles rolled away beneath us. Today, my hobby of choice is reading - particularly when riding the subway - and nothing makes a better book bag that a great cotton tote bag.
7. Laundry Wash Bag
Some items simply don’t do well in a harsher laundry load, but instead of wasting time and water on a separate laundry load for delicate items, you can use your reusable mesh produce bags as a laundry wash bag as well. One bag, two uses - the minimalist dream.
So whether you have a stash of promo bags on your hands like I did, or if you have some cotton totes or mesh produce bags on your hands that you’d like to get some extra use out of, these tips will have you well on your way to making better use of what you already have.And if you’re looking to find some great reusable bags, we’re proud to offer our collection of GoGreenBags, featuring sturdy reusable grocery bags, stylish shopping totes, and versatile mesh produce bags.