Uses of Plastic Bags

It’s estimated that each year Americans use 100 billion plastic bags. That’s enough plastic to circle the earth more than 770 times! States are gradually eliminating the use of larger plastic bags and those landfills are benefiting. Let’s get the most use possible from the bags still out there.

When a sandwich is gone, why toss the bag?
Simply shake out all the crumbs and put the plastic to use again before it hits the recycling plant. Plastic bags can be re-used in oh, so many ways. Here are a few ideas to get started with using plastic bags at least twice before recycling them.

recycled baggie

Uses for Old Plastic Bags

Recycling Baggies

First off, let’s examine how a plastic bag becomes classified as food safe
It is the responsibility of the manufacturer of any Food Contact Substance (FCS) to ensure that food contact materials comply with the specifications and limitations in all applicable authorizations. [1].
Testing recommendations are set up by the FDA for all manufacturers of FCS materials to follow [2].
All Ziploc® brand Containers and microwavable Ziploc® brand bags meet the safety requirements of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for temperatures associated with defrosting and reheating food in microwave ovens, as well as room, refrigerator and freezer temperatures. [3]

Next, let’s examine what NOT to do with food safe plastic bags.

  • They should not be washed in hot water and then be reused to store food.
    If washing is desired, they could be turned inside out and then put inside one of those mesh bags made for washing delicate clothing. Then throw the mesh bag into the washing machine on the cold or warm wash cycle, but not hot. Wash the bag along with other things so that you’re not wasting water on just recycling plastic.

  • If bacteria was growing in a bag, the bag should not be reused in any way with food.
    If this is the case then either check the next section for a quick nonfood use of the bag, or trash the bag.

  • Lastly, plastic bags should be recycled.
    If there is nothing deemed beneficial for your needs on the following list, then at least store them up for recycling day.

  • National recycling week for 2019 is from Monday November 11th to Sunday November 17th.
  • Uses of Plastic Bags

    Ways to Use Old Baggies For Protection, Clean-up and More

  • Following a recipe:
    Using a phone or tablet to follow a new recipe can be handy, but often quite messy. Slip the device into a plastic bag before using – it still works thru the plastic!

  • Working with dough:
    Recycled bags can fit like a glove! Use it to knead dough – no messy hands while working and then no clean-up as you toss them afterwards.

  • As a glove:
    Use one to pick up raw chicken or pork and then toss it out afterward.

  • For piping:
    Of course, pipe frosting if you have no pastry bag. Just cut a small hole in the corner of the bag first. Do be careful not to squeeze too hard tho, thin baggies can pop very easily and leave a huge mess in your hands. For this use, it is best to begin with a new bag to be sure it is clean.

  • As an extra line of defense:
    Put some in your diaper bag & any place you visit will appreciate that you placed a loaded disposable diaper there before placing it into their trash can.

  • As a pooper scooper:
    The bigger bags can pick up dog poop for big dogs. The zip seal is a big plus, no trying to turn a little bag inside out to tie it up.

  • For recycling:
    They can hold an oil filter for later recycling at a garage.

  • For cleaning:
    Fill the bag with white vinegar and then place securely with a rubber band over a shower head that is in need of cleaning due to hard water build-up. Leave it on for an hour or so and then scrub with an old toothbrush and rinse afterward. The vinegar soak will descale the mineral deposits left behind by hard water.

  • To store a paintbrush:
    If there is an interruption while painting, then just stick the paint brush inside a plastic bag and seal it. The paint will stay moist for at least the time it takes to answer a phone call. To keep it fresh as long as overnight, slip the bag covered brush into the freezer and then thaw it out in the morning before beginning again.

  • As a Boo Boo healer:
    One doesn’t really need a new bag just to hold ice.

  • To make a quick sachet:
    Fill a bag with fragrant dried flowers and/or herbs. Poke holes with a pin into the bag afterward to emit a nice, constant fragrance. Be sure the bag was clean and dry or mold could begin to form in the bag.

  • The best way to avoid sending plastic bags to the dump, or even the recycling plant, is to not use them at all!
    These two websites, and, both sell some very cool environmentally friendly bags that put plastic to shame.

    Uses of Plastic Bags

    Additional Info

    Old tools that were purchased for a specific purpose can also be re-purposed (recycled). See our post on old tools for some ideas.

    For more on ways to avoid cross contamination when dealing with food, see our cross contamination post.

    To find out how long other foods are good for, please visit the Dairy, Drinks, Fruits, Grains, Proteins, Vegetables and Other sections of Eat By Date or use the search function below.

    SEARCH Eat By Date

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