Plastic shopping bags: friend or foe?

I try my best to bring reusable shopping bags with me when I go to a store. However, I have to admit there have been occasions when I have forgotten them at home or in the car and am offered a plastic shopping bag instead.  Somehow there always seems to be more plastic bags kicking around the house than I know what to do with; maybe you feel the same way? Do you ever wonder what to do with all those bags?

Rather than automatically placing plastic shopping bags in the garbage, plastic bags can be recycled, reused and repurposed, turning a potentially disposable item into a great resource!


The Canadian Plastics Industry Association has a list of retail locations that take back plastic shopping bags for recycling.


There are many ways to reuse plastic shopping bags:

  • Save a few in your car or bag for the next spontaneous shopping trip.
  • Wrap delicate household items — like holiday ornaments — in plastic shopping bags before putting them into storage.
  • Place shoes or dirty clothes inside a plastic bag while travelling
  • Use them as pet waste bags.
  • If you’re mailing a fragile package, wrap the item in plastic bags instead of buying bubble wrap or foam.
  • Donate them to local food banks, used book stores, thrift stores and libraries so they don’t have to buy their own.

Check out these other ideas to reuse plastic bags.


This jump rope is made from plastic bags!

If you are feeling crafty, there are some other options for repurposing bags. Did you know? Plastic shopping bags can be made into fabric and “plarn” (a ball of plastic bag strips used as yarn for knitting or crocheting) to jump ropes and shoes! It seems the possibilities are endless!

So next time you are wondering what to do with the plastic shopping bags you have in your house, take a minute before throwing it in the garbage and try to think of a way to reuse or repurpose the bag. Get creative!

Are there any neat ways you reuse or recycle your plastic bags?

About Melynda Paterson

Hi I'm Melynda, a Waste Management Program Coordinator with Halton Region. I graduated from McMaster University with an honours degree in Geography and completed the Environmental Management graduate program at Niagara College. Some of my responsibilities include monitoring garbage bag limits and illegal dumping. Also, I help with multi-residential waste diversion programs and am the keeper of a database that houses important waste collection information for properties across the Region.
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1 Response to Plastic shopping bags: friend or foe?

  1. Pingback: 6 Shopping Bag Blogs | Christmas Shopping Deals

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