Sunday, February 03, 2008

Plastic Bags, Part I

Around a month and a half ago, I tucked my bicycle into a small nook between the side of my sofa and my collapsible (and sadly, unused) sewing machine, and resigned myself to a winter of adapting to being a pedestrian again. Part of this meant that I would be losing the speed and mobility that had allowed me to spend the previous seven or eight months being a finicky shopper, able to flit from one store to another to shop for better deals or fresher produce. Travel-time more than tripled, which entailed the necessity to plan ahead more carefully. On the other hand, I also suddenly found myself with two free hands to carry bags for extras outside of what I could ordinarily cram into my well-worn knapsack whilst cycling. I'm quite happily car-free, and for those rare occasions when I do need to make a large purchase, it's much cheaper to take an occasional cab than to have a car sitting in my driveway 24/7. So far, I've managed to keep my cab rides down to one every couple of months.

I've generally had no problem accepting some plastic bags at stores, since I do it so rarely and always reuse the bags to clean litter boxes (which nonetheless leaves them ending up in the landfill, I know). Lately, my mother's been re-homing her plastic bags with me, since they would otherwise end up getting thrown out by her. Because of this, I've decided to nose around online a bit, to look for creative and useful things to do with extra bags, as well as ways to reuse existing items at home to actually make reusable bags. I've noticed that reusable bags are often for sale now at many grocery stores, from $1.00 to $4.00, so I was curious to see what other options were available.

I found
this blog post on how to make bags out of old sheets and used jeans (or other sturdy fabric). The cost is zilch if you use your own old sheets and old jeans. Online instructions for making shopping bags are plentiful. For instance, even has animated step-by-step instructions for another type of bag. It calls for more durable fabric than what you'd get with sheets. I'd suggest checking out a thrift store, or the liquidation sales that fabric stores often have, if you want to keep costs down.

A woman called Cristen has devoted
a blog to crocheting with plastic from old bags. She tells you how to prepare them first and provides links to dozens of projects, including how to make crocheted bags out of used plastic bags. Cindy, at provides tons of patterns (with illustrated instructions) for plastic bag crafts. For instance, she has instructions on how to make a doormat or a pot scrubber. Now if I can only learn to crochet... Craftzine has also featured information in its blog on how to crochet things out of plastic bags, as well as how to fuse plastic to create things like clothing and jewelry.

So why not just recycle the bags, you may wonder? Aren't most bags
biodegradable these days, anyway? I'll post more on that aspect of the plastic bag issue later.

(Listening to:
The Bauhaus' The Sky's Gone Out)

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