NewsThe Much Maligned Plastic Shopping Bag - I Love It

The Much Maligned Plastic Shopping Bag - I Love It

For a number of years now, plastic shopping bags have drawn the ire of environmentalists who believe they will single-handedly bring about the end-of-the-world.

Personally, I love plastic shopping bags and I re-use them daily. They are lightweight, keep your stuff dry and scrunch up into a tiny ball for easy storage.

Another great thing about plastic bags is that you can carry lots of them at the same time! That minimizes the number of trips I have to make from the car to the house.

I think a lot of people would be shocked to know that plastic shopping bags are arguably a better environmental choice than paper.

The Wall Street Journal observed that the choice between paper and plastic comes down to which environmental issue you think deserves the most attention.

You’d be right to argue that paper bags produce less litter, but plastic bags require significantly less energy and water to make. Not only that, but they also produce less greenhouse-gas emissions.

But what about eco-friendly reusable bags I hear you ask?

Well, they have their problems too. Britain’s Daily Mail reported that tests on reusable “eco-friendly” shopping bags revealed traces of the deadly E. coli bacterium on half of those sampled.

If that isn’t enough, the New York Times disclosed that many reusable bags imported from China were recently found to contain potentially unsafe levels of lead.

With all that in mind, here are 20 uses for plastic shopping bags after they have finished carrying your shopping!



1. Place plastic grocery bags in bathroom bins for use as a bag liner.

2. If you have a broken arm or leg, you can use plastic bags to help keep the cast dry while taking a bath or shower.

3. Plastic bags are also great for disposing of dirty nappies.

4. Line your cat’s litter box with them.

5. Speaking of pets, plastic bags are perfect for picking up dog and cat poo.

6. Use them in your luggage to keep your wet clothes separate from your dry clothes, and your clean clothes from dirty ones.

7. When traveling with a suitcase, plastic bags can also be used to protect your shoes from scuffs — or keep stinky shoes from affecting your other clothes. Also good for separating perfume, toothpaste and other things that might leak.

8. Use them to carry your lunch to work.

9. If the forecast calls for frost, you can protect plants by placing a plastic bag over them the night before.

10. Great for defrosting meat, simply place the meat in a plastic bag, along with a paper towel.

11. Wrap your paint brushes and rollers in plastic bags to keep them from drying out if you’re taking a painting break.

12. Plastic bags can be used as cheap disposable gloves for handling unpleasant things.

13. If you’re house-sitting,  use plastic bags to hold their mail until they return.

14. Nothing is better for tossing out mouldy fruit or stinky food 

15. Plastic bags can be used to coat chicken or beef with flour prior to cooking.

16. When you’re working the garden, try wrapping some plastic bags around your knees to not only keep them dry and clean, but also provide a little extra cushiony comfort.

17. Oh, and while your busy tending to the yard, don’t forget you can also use plastic shopping bags to collect those smaller yard clippings.

18. Hopefully, you’ve also kept a few extra plastic bags in the car and near your home’s front door for storing those muddy shoes.

19. You can use plastic bags to store Christmas wreaths and decorations.

20. Do the kids have a GI Joe? Plastic grocery bags make great parachutes for them!


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The Much Maligned Plastic Shopping Bag - I Love It

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Sue-Ellen from VIC commented:

I have been providing my own shopping bags for years and keep them in the car. Plastic bags are a blight on the environment killing turtles and other sea creatures. I detest the things, but admit that I will use them as bin liners if any come my way. I bring used ones home from work. Cheaper than buying bin liners. 

ken from NSW commented:

"15. Plastic bags can be used to coat chicken or beef with flour prior to cooking." It's a bit scary. How do you ensure adequate hygiene? 

Noeleen from VIC commented:

I re-use my plastic bags as kitchen bin liners & doggy poop bags. The kitchen bin was purchased from Woolworth's years ago. It was made to fit plastic shopping bags, it is slim & fits perfectly under the sink. 

Anonymous from NSW commented:

I cut up plastic bags for bio degradable plant ties in the veggie garden. 

Terry from QLD commented:

We bought two cheap wire basket frames which are specifically designed to hold plastic bags and keep them open. We use one for recyclable waste and the other for general waste. The recyclable waste bag gets emptied into our recyclable wheelie bin and the messy bag goes into the other wheelie bin, together with the (now tied up) general waste bag. This way we take the rubbish out each day to the wheelie bins without getting our hands dirty. The plastic bags are biodegradable, so break back down to their original state at the rubbish tip in a very short time so they do not harm the environment at all. 

John from NSW commented:

Reading 'Garbology' by Edward Humes will give you an eye-opening perspective on plastic bags, and on plastic in general. We have developed a very cavalier attitude to how we manage finite resources and to the very 'out of sight, out of mind' waste stream we generate - that is primarily defined by our ignorance of it. 

Mavis from QLD commented:

I agree with Kayley. I'd hate to be without plastic bags. 

Anonymous from SA commented:

The main reason the plastic shopping bags are banned in so many places is supposedly the litter problem and other environmental issues. Thousands (Millions?) of consumers, like myself are now buying bin liner bags which are no better environmentally than the bags they replaced. All that has been achieved is the supermarkets are saving by not supplying bags and the manufacturers of bin bags are enjoying a massive rise in sales. The fabric shopping bags for sale at check-out for about a dollar each have to be reused at least 30 times before their environmental impact is negated. They are pretty flimsy and I doubt they would hold together long enough to reach that. 

Marie from NSW commented:

How wonderful! Common sense at last! Not an environmental issue when used thoughtfully - no more so than other alternatives! I re-use mine as well! 

Gertraud from ACT commented:

Plastic grocery bags are banned here in Canberra and also in South Australia. I have a stash of those eco-friendly reusable bags. Do I worry about ecoli and other nasties? No. Just about everything is packaged these days and there are plastic bags available for fruit and vegetable, so none of the food items are actually in contact with the bags. Growing up in Europe where grocery stores have never provided free plastic bags, I remember my mother using the same shopping bags until they literally fell apart after about a decade or more of use. Nobody in the family ever got sick as a result of bacteria and what-not in the shopping bags! So I will happily continue my well used shopping bags which, as a matter of fact can be washed! As to plastic bags, many plastic bags available these days are bio-degradable, after storing stuff in those bags and later discovering the bag had disintegrated into a million small bits of plastic, I reject those bags as I would immediately dispose of it in my kitchen bin, which is lined with non-bio-degradable purchased bin liners. 

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