Thursday, September 25, 2008

recycled shopping bags

I thought I was doing a good thing by taking my big sack of plastic grocery bags back to the store's recycling box before I headed in to buy more groceries. But recently, I read an article about plastic bags, and have been forever changed, as I think about how we are treating this earth God has entrusted to us to care for with our plastic-bag-convenience culture. Click here to read the article/slideshow.

Did you realize it costs more to recycle a plastic bag than to make a new one? In fact, it costs $4,000 to recycle one ton of plastic bags, which would then be turned around & sold for $32 to stores to use. As a result, most stores just throw away the bags we bring in for recycling.

Many countries have actually banned or taxed plastic bags, which has motivated shoppers to use reusable bags. If one in 5 people used reusable bags, the article estimates we would save 1.3 trillion bags over a lifetime.

The problem I always had with reusable bags was that I'd have to buy a slew of them for all the groceries I buy! I usually come home with at least 10 bags when I do my bi-weekly shopping. I didn't want to pay for 10+ bags for this purpose.

Then I found
these directions from Martha to make them - easy and free!
She even has a video to watch if you need the extra help, although it really is soooo easy to figure out.

photo courtesy of

You just need the following:
- old t-shirts
- scissors or a rotary cutter (also a rotary cutting board if you're using a rotary cutter)
- a marking pen or pencil (you really could just use a regular pencil if you need to)
- the ability to sew a straight line on a sewing machine (no fancy sewing knowledge needed!)

As I cleaned out Chad's clothing from his dresser a couple of weeks ago, I could not believe how many old t-shirts he had that he doesn't wear anymore, even for lawn work or painting, due to small stains or a hole where he ripped out the neck tag (does your man do this too??? drives me nuts!) I ended up with 10 that were fine for this purpose (and an empty dresser drawer!)

I did cut about 8-10 inches off the bottoms of the shirts, because I felt the bags were going to be too long otherwise. The result was bags that are closer in length to the plastic ones from the store. My bags are shorter than the one pictured above.

Go dig out all those shirts you & your family don't wear because they're not up to standard, and in about an hour you'll have an arsenal of reusable, recycled bags of your own!


Anonymous said...

This just blew my mind!!!

~ANG said...

great idea...quick and easy...and free!

Joanne said...

Great idea, I add a little loop to mine, where the store ones have a loop. That way the checkers can hook the bag to their "station"

Anonymous said...

Our company makes reusable flexible and fashionable shopping bags out of beautiful materials. They are made in New Orleans by Katrina Survivors and 5% of the profit goes to Hope House a charity in NOLA that assists the homeless. Please check out our bags at Joan and Sue

All Rileyed Up said...

This is such an awesome idea I can't even begin to tell you how stoked I am.

Mary@SimplyForties said...

This is such a clever idea. Might make good gifts too. Thanks for posting it!