Waste Not

Unless you’re a regular Aldi shopper, where you either bring your own bags or pay for paper or plastic, chances are you bring home your fair share of plastic bags each week.

Well, unless you’re in the practice of bringing reusable bags everywhere you shop.

For many of us, that means having a potato bin, coffee can or other space filled beyond capacity with plastic bags from Walmart, Meijer, Dollar General, whatever stores we frequent.

There are so many ways to repurpose those bags into something more useful, like, say, a door mat.

Locally, The Warped Sisters, a group of sisters with a passion for fiber arts and weaving, have woven rugs out of plastic bags that can periodically be purchased at art shows and fiber fairs.

Plastic bags can also be crocheted into rugs. There are patterns available online on sites like myrecycledbags.com that walk you through the steps to make your own plastic bag rug.

Plastic bags woven together also come in handy in the garden to collect produce. Instructions on radmegan.com show how to do it, weaving the bags and using some tape to create a sturdy basket to carry to-be-washed produce from the garden to the house.

The same basket can even be used to store more plastic bags.

There are more conventional ways to reuse the bags as well.

Cat people can easily scoop the litter box contents into one before tossing it in the trash. And dog people, too, can use them on walks to pick up their dog’s waste from someone else’s yard.

Bathroom trash cans always need a liner, so instead of buying a roll of small trash bags, make use of the plastic bags from the grocery store.

If storing plastic bags in your home has become a pain, there are ways to take care of that problem, too, with just a little bit of folding.

To fold each individual bag into a triangle, try these steps:

• Flatten the bag completely

• Fold the bag into thirds

• Start at the bottom of the bag, folding up in a triangle pattern

• Tuck the tails

This gives you small triangles that are easier to stack and store in a box, bin or other container.

To have a dispenser of plastic bags, they can also be rolled together. Then you can reuse an empty cleaning wipes container as a bag dispenser.

To make a bag dispenser, follow these steps:

• Fold the first bag in half

• Place a second bag on top of the first, with the handles overlapping. Continue laying multiple bags this way.

• Starting at the first bag’s handles, start rolling your bags like a sleeping bag

• Place in an empty wet wipes container

From there, you can decorate the container or label it and as you use the bags elsewhere in your home, you can refill it with more.

If all else fails and the bag can’t be reused, check with the local grocery store to see about bag recycling programs.

It is not recommended to bag household recyclables in plastic bags because they can get stuck in the machines at recycling plants, causing problems.

Waste Not is a weekly column highlighting conservation and the responsible sustainable use of products and resources. Readers are encouraged to email tips, ideas and concerns to aoberlin@kpcmedia.com.

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