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Hints & Tips

Recycle Week: Ways to Reuse Plastic Bags

Now that Recycle Week 2015 is upon us, we thought we’d take a look at some regular household items which can often be overlooked when it comes to reusing or upcycling. Take the humble plastic carrier bag for example; this rather mundane every day item can usually find its fate going straight in to the bin, although granted, a lot of people will use them as a bin liner to capture all the rubbish within beforehand – we often overlook the hidden potential of this supermarket sundry!

 Ways to Reuse Plastic Carrier Bags

Make bracelets from plastic bags

There’s a variety of tutorials upcycling plastic bags online, and turning them in to bracelets is perfect if you have a range of colours which you’ve been collecting from all those shopping trips.

All you need to do to get started is to wind the bag lengths in to ‘yarn’. Simply cut the plastic bag in to thick strips, attach one end to a table (or something sturdy) with some tape and wind the length until it creates a long, thick ‘string’.

Now you’ve got your lengths, you can get crafty and create either a simple bangle, where you wind the colours around a metal band, or you can make some cute friendship bracelets! The tighter you wind the plastic bag, the more versatile your designs can be – so get twisting!

Make coasters and table matts from plastic bags

Using the above method of making yarn with your plastic bags, you can also crochet it in to coasters or placemats for your dining table.

There are a variety of patterns found over on Pinterest for crocheting placemats, so it’s really just a case of finding the pattern you like the most! Or perhaps one to suit your crochet skills, as some may be more advanced in the art of crochet than others. Once you get the hang of it though, you’ll soon be crocheting up larger, more advanced pieces in no time!

Make plastic bag flower accessories.

Whether you want to jazz up a pair of old shoes, or add a colourful addition to your jacket; making a flower out of plastic bags is really easy to do! You can either use the thicker styles of plastic bag by just cutting it in to strips and folding in to the middle, or you can try a fusing technique with your iron.

Simply layer 3 or 4 plastic bags over each other, and cover in greaseproof paper. With your iron on a low heat gently run it across the top of the greaseproof paper to fuse the bags together. Once cooled, your new sheet of ‘plastic bag material’ can then be cut with regular scissors and made in to a beautiful floral brooch. You can stick the plastic together for the flower with glue, or you can sew it with a needle and thread.

Weave a plastic bag basket

This one involves not only the upcycling of carrier bags, but also re-uses aluminium drinks cans and changes them in to something completely different too! Simply take an empty drinks can and cut the top off, then cut strips down the sides of the can. Using your ‘plarn’ simply wrap a pattern around the strips of aluminium. For the full tutorial for this technique, see this link, from ‘I love paper beads’ and get creative!

We’ll be sharing more hints and tips to recycle every day household waste over the coming week, especially for Recycle Week 2015 – so keep your eyes peeled here on the Preloved Blog for more exciting upcycling ideas! By now you’re probably feeling inspired to dig out your own plastic bags and get upcycling, so don’t forget to share your thrifty recycling ideas over on our Facebook or Twitter!

Liv Serrage

Liv Serrage

Writer and expert

Liv writes the newsletters and looks after the Preloved social media community, hunting out the quirkiest, most beautiful items on site just for you! As an English Language and Literature graduate from the University of Oxford, Liv is passionate about all things fictional, bookish and creative. In her spare time, she loves to go to gigs and scour vintage and charity shops for one off items!