Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Go Green & Save Some Green Tip of the Week #2

Last week I touted the benefits of reusable grocery bags. But let's get real - into every greenie's life, the occasional plastic bag doth fall. Whether it be a plastic bread bag, a produce bag or a bag you had to take because you forgot your reusables and they didn't have paper - you will likely end up with your very own collection at some point.

You can recycle these bags at many large stores throughout the valley - Stop & Shop, Big Y, Trader Joe's, Walmart, etc. But you can also reuse them and save yourself some money. Here are 10 tips (in no particular order) for doing just that:

1. Reuse them in bathroom or other small trash cans. Don't spend money on those speciality trash can liners; most store bags are just the right size. (And you can get more than one use out of each bag by dumping out the contents into your regular trash weekly and reusing the bag several times.)

2. Use them as gardening knee pads/protectors. No need to invest in a special gardening knee pad that will just take up extra room in your garage. Tie two plastic bags around your knees and you're good to go.

(I'm telling you - this is a fashion statement in the making! But seriously - they do keep your knees clean and dry.)

3. Use them for packing or moving instead of packing peanuts or tissue. They work very well separating plates and/or glasses and keeping them from clinking in transit.

4. Who needs expensive outdoor mats when you can make your own? That's right - you can make your own washable outdoor mat by cutting plastic bags into strips and braiding them together into a rug. Or you can use the strips to make a hook rug. (You can find instructions for making plastic yarn, or "plarn," here.)

5. Use them to make Fido or Fluffy his or her very own pet bed. Don't spend big bucks on a premade bed or special craft pillow stuffing. Just pick a heavy fabric to make your pillow (perhaps reuse some old towels you were going to throw away?), then fill it up with balled up plastic bags.

6. $4 for a roll of gift wrap? Forget that! Just find 2-3 colorful plastic bags, wrap them around your gift, then tie the handles into bows. Or cut the ends of the handles off and fan them out into a pom-pom top.

7. Extend the life of your winter boots. Getting time to replace those leaky boots? Eek them out another paycheck (or 2 or even a whole season) by putting plastic bread bags over your feet before putting your boots on. Tuck the bags under your pants or back into the top of the boots and no one will be the wiser - except for your warm, dry, happy feet.

8. Like the look of big pots for your indoor or outdoor plants? You don't need to use bags and bags of potting soil to fill up your favorite big planter. Stuff the bottom with bunched up plastic bags, then fill in the top part with just enough soil to accommodate the size of the root ball. You'll save money on potting soil and water - and the planter will be a lot easier to move.

9. Don't get conned in to buying plastic drop cloths at the paint store. You're just going to get them dirty anyway! Cut the sides of a few bags to make long rectangles and tape the sides of the bags together. Presto - free drop cloth!

10. Use them to make fun holiday decorations with kids. Crafting with plastic bags is a cheap, easy way to entertain the kids. For example, use white plastic bags to make Halloween "ghosts" that you can hang from doorways. (Stuff 1-2 plastic bags into the corner of another one and tie a piece of yarn or floss below the ball to form the ghost's head.) Or use them as stuffing to make a fall scarecrow (as a side benefit for you - bags are lot less messy than leaves, pine needles, hay or other traditional scarecrow stuffings).

OK - I swear that's my last rant (for a while anyway) about bags! Next week - something completely new. I promise!

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