Unique Ways to Upcycle Plastic Grocery Bags

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Do you save plastic grocery bags? If you do, they’re probably piled up underneath the kitchen cabinet or stuffed in the pantry, right? Instead of cramming those bags into the unseen crevices of your home or apartment, here are a few ways to repurpose them into something useful. Read on for TK tips on how to upcycle plastic grocery bags.

1. Clean your showerhead.

Did you know you can use a plastic bag to clean your showerhead? Just fill a plastic bag with white vinegar. (Some experts recommend adding baking soda, too.) Don’t fill it up! Halfway should do it. Place the bag over the showerhead so that it’s fully immersed in vinegar.

Secure the bag, with string or twist ties, and let your showerhead soak for a few hours. If the showerhead is super dirty, leave the bag on there overnight. (Unless it’s brass, gold, or nickel-coated. In this case, remove the bag after 30 minutes.)

Once you’ve given it time to soak, remove the bag from the showerhead, pour the vinegar down the drain, and run hot water for a minute or so to flush out any leftover mineral deposits or residual particles. If it’s still funky, scrub it with an old toothbrush.

2. Get crafty.

Plastic is a strong, long-lasting material. It’s perfect for creating something new. Just look at what Danielle O’Connor, the owner of Shanti Creations, a sustainable candle company located in Queens, New York, does with her leftover plastic bags. She’s a mermaid!

woman dressed as a mermaid
Photo provided by Shanti Creations

“I love being able to turn plastic bags into a creative outlet to express myself,” says O’Connor. “As a crafter, I think being able to give new life, to something that would just be thrown away as trash is one of the most beautiful ways to craft. Last year in honor of NY state Banning Plastic Bags and preparing for National Mermaid Day, I grabbed my scissors, duct tape, and leftover plastic bags and turned myself into a Mermaid.”

3. Plastic bags make for a great impromptu shower cap.

The coronavirus pandemic has forced many of us into finding creative new ways to get that just-left-the-salon look without actually going to a salon. One of the ways I’ve been doing this is by coloring my hair at home. (It’s scary, I know. But what other choice do I have?) While I’m waiting for the dye to settle and do its magic, I wrap my hair (ever so lightly) in a plastic grocery bag. This way, I won’t get dye on my robe and everything stays contained while I wait.

If you wash your hair every other day or every few days, old grocery bags also make for a great shower cap. Just spray on the dry shampoo, wrap it up, and you’re good to hop in the shower. “Plastic bags are my go-to shower caps when I need to shower or my go-to head wraps for deep conditioning my natural hair,” says environmental enthusiast and public relations expert, Adanna Jideofor. “I wear plastic bags on my head to protect my hair from the rain in case the weather changes and I’m caught in a storm.”

4. When all else fails, take ’em back to the store.

If you’re unable to repurpose your plastic grocery bags at home, consider toting them back to the store. Thanks to the NexTrex(r) Retail Recycling Program, grocery chains such as Albertson’s, Food Lion, Kroger, Meijer, Jewel-Osco, and Safeway have collection bins for discarded plastic, including plastic bags.

The NexTrex(r) Retail Recycling Program — created by Trex, the nation’s leader in composite decking — partners with more than 32,000 stores nationwide to collect and recycle plastic film, including plastic mailer bags, bread bags, dry cleaning bags, newspaper sleeves, Ziploc and other resealable bags, ice bags, produce bags, bubble wrap, cereal box liners, case overwrap, and salt bags.

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