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Great 'Green' Ways to Re-Use Your Carrier Bags

By: Sarah O'Hara BA (hons) - Updated: 20 Aug 2012 | comments*Discuss
Great 'green' Ways To Re-use Your Carrier Bags

Carrier bag waste is a big problem in the UK. We use a lot more plastic bags than we need to and often throw the carriers away after just one use. When they are sent to landfill, plastic bags take a long time to decompose. They are often found washed up on beaches and in the sea, spoiling the landscape and endangering animals.

Concerted efforts are being made by both consumers and businesses to cut down on carrier bag waste in the UK.

There are many ways to cut down on carrier bag use, and, when we do use a carrier bag, to make sure we get the most possible use out of it.

Re-Using Carrier Bags

Most people have loads of carrier bags laying around and there are plenty of simple ways to make sure they have been used to death before being got rid of:

  • Keeping a stash of bags in the car or the bottom of your bag will ensure that an impromptu stop at the supermarket or shops doesn’t leave you caught short and having to add to the amount of bags you already have.
  • Carrier bags can also be used as waste bin liners, bins in themselves and to collect recycling.
  • Charity shops, farmers’ market stall holders and other traders may be glad to receive unwanted carrier bags.
  • The local library may also be interested in receiving carrier bags to give to customers who have checked out more books than they can carry.
  • Dog-owners can use carrier bags to clear up after their dog’s mess.
  • Plastic bags can be used anywhere that you need to be kept waterproof and clean. For example when you have been swimming a carrier will keep the wet things away from the dry ones. A carrier inside a rucksack will keep clothes dry should it rain.
  • Some people put a plastic bag inside wellies (especially for children) for an extra waterproof layer.

Avoiding Plastic Bags

At the same time as reducing the amount of carrier bags we already have, it’s also fairly easy to avoid gathering any more.

  • Invest in some cotton bags to carry shopping in. They fold up pretty small to go into handbags, glove compartments and pockets.
  • Many supermarkets are now selling ‘bags for life’ which can be re-used hundreds of times and are designed to be strong and durable.
  • Some shops are offering money off or as a donation if you don’t use carrier bags. Others are starting to charge a few pence for using a carrier bag as part of their drive to reduce unncessary packaging.
  • If you need bags at the supermarket ask if paper ones are available rather than plastic.

Unusual Ways to Use Carrier Bags

Plastic bags can be used in other ways than carrying things:

  • Screw up bags and place them in boots and shoes so that they keep their shape when packed or stored.
  • Knit or crochet with strips of plastic bags. Bags can be used to knit up a rug, peg bag, beach bag or even a grocery bag. Using different colours can create an eye-catching design.
  • Fill plastic bags with soil and hang them in the garden - they can be used to grow potatoes.
  • Cover a paint roller with a plastic bag and it will keep the roller moist so you can use it again the next day without washing it.

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