Plastic Bags Upcycling

by Kimberly J.

many plastic bags
“Many Plastic Bags” by Keng Susumpow is licensed with CC BY 2.0.

In the United States alone, it is estimated that 100 billion plastic bags are consumed each year. I’m guessing that we all have a few extra laying around the house, saved up from the last grocery trip, or hiding in a cupboard or box. Why not try upcycling them? Upcycling is the process of turning trash into treasure. These DIY projects and ideas help to reduce waste by reusing items that are destined for the landfill and transforming them into something new, useful, or beautiful. Two instructors from Howard County Library System have filmed classes for ideas on how to upcycle plastic bags into something useful. They are available on HCLS’s YouTube channel, which is full of On-Demand classes.

In the first video, the Central Branch’s Tamarah Nuttle gives a step-by-step tutorial on how to make plarn. Plarn is a heavy duty plastic yarn that can be created with all types of plastic bags. She demonstrates two methods for transforming them using scissors – creating loops and knotting them together, or making a continuous strip with the bag. The plarn can then be knitted or crocheted for endless practical purposes. Some ideas include rolled mats for the homeless or a sit-upon for camping or outdoor activities. If you’ve got experience with knitting or crocheting, you should check out Tamarah’s plarn tutorial here:

Upcycling Plastic Bags – Making Plarn

Not a knitter? No worries! Another video has been produced by Kimberly J, who is an instructor at the Elkridge Branch’s DIY Educational Center. She too has practical tips on how to upcycle plastic bags. Kimberly’s tutorial involves cutting loops and then braiding the plastic strands into a rope. She then uses this rope to make fun coasters using a hot glue gun. Watch her tutorial using simple steps for this crafty upcycle here: https://youtu.be/utMvzWsoS7s

Looking for more ways to reuse plastic bags? Check out the link below for a list of ideas for your household, home improvement, crafts, and more: https://tinyurl.com/ReusingPlasticBags

Kimberly is a DIY Instructor and Research Specialist at the HCLS Elkridge Branch. She enjoys reading, photography, crafting, and baking.

10 Ways to Reuse Your Contactless Pick Up Bag

By Anna B.

HCLS is thrilled to now offer paper bags as a more eco-friendly option for Contactless Pickup. If you’ve stopped by to see us a few times, you probably have quite a collection piling up! Here are ten ways to reuse your Contactless Pickup paper bag:

1. Gift Bag

Decorate your bag and use it to surprise a friend or neighbor with a fun treat! Or save them for the holidays for easy gift wrapping.

2. Cat House

Decorate your bag to look like a house and see if your pet will nap inside.

3. Ripen Fruit

If you want your fruit to ripen up a bit faster, try placing it inside your paper bag and folding over the top.

4. Package Filler

Use your paper bag as an eco-friendly way to fill space when sending a package. Cut the bag apart and crumple the pieces so they act as a cushion.

5. Weed Blocker

Paper bags work great for blocking pesky weeds. Cut a hole in a piece of paper bag and arrange around seedlings in your garden.

6. Make a Luminary

Cut shapes out of your bag and place battery-operated candles inside for a lantern effect.

7. Book Cover

Use your bag to cover textbooks or cookbooks to keep them looking nice.

8. Recycling Receptacle

Use your bag to collect paper recycling for easy transport to the recycling bin.

9. Crab Paper

Cut open your bag and use it to line your table when picking steamed crabs at home.

10. Craft Station

Use your bag to protect your table or floor from paint and glue while you make something creative! Consider sharing your new creation with HCLS’s Created While Isolated.

There are so many ways to upcycle your bag to get the most out of it. We’d love to see how you are reusing yours!

Anna has worked at the Glenwood Branch as a Customer Service Specialist for 6 years. She loves crafting, yoga, and baking.