Plastic grocery bags are slowly becoming things of the past, but most of us still probably have enough of them that we’re struggling to find ways to store them. You could put them all inside another bag or purchase a conventional plastic bag organizer, and though both are effective, there are dozens of other efficient ways to store plastic bags. More importantly, many of the other methods involve using DIY and upcycled materials to facilitate storage.
The best ways to store plastic bags:
The following ways for storing plastic bags are just examples of some of the most zero-waste methods we could find, but they are by no means the only ones. Feel free to allow these storage methods to inspire your own creativity.
Tuck them all in one bag.
The most common — and least creative — means of plastic bag storage involves placing as many as you can into a single plastic bag. It is effective insofar as it keeps them from spilling out into your cupboards, but it can take up a lot more space than you might have guessed. Also, throwing them unceremoniously into a bag together is a good way to have the bags wind up a clumpy, disorganized mess.
Tie them in a knot.
Before you go throwing all your bags into one single bag, you might want to make them take up a little less space. Tying each of the bags into a tight knot will ensure that they fit together more neatly and are more easily accessible when it comes to pulling them out for other uses.
According to Bob Vila, the easiest way to ball up each bag is to start by holding the very bottom of a bag in your right hand, while pulling the other end taut using your left. Then, simply bring the ends together until the bag is folded in half, and knot it.
Fold them like paper footballs.
If knotting isn’t your thing or you simply want to challenge yourself and maximize your space, you could attempt to fold each bag into something that looks like a paper football. These instructions are inspired by a folding method from Thrifty Fun.
Step 1: Lay the shopping bag down so it’s flat.
Step 2: Smooth the bag out and fold it in half, lengthwise.
Step 3: Smooth it out once more and fold it in half again.
Step 4: Starting at the bottom of the bag, fold the lower-left corner over and towards the right side. You should end up with a triangle shape.
Step 5: Fold the triangle upward to the right.
Step 6: Fold the triangle upward again, this time to the left.
Step 7: Fold the triangle in the same pattern until you reach the bag’s handle.
Step 8: Tuck the handle into the end of the pocket you have created.
Voila! An easy to store plastic bags.
Pack them into a sleeve pouch.
Cloth sleeve pouches are often flexible, reasonably durable, cost-effective, and readily available at places like HomeGoods or Bed Bath & Beyond. If you don’t want to spend the couple bucks on one, however, you can make them at home with these easy step-by-step instructions from Scrappy Geek. Using this method will also allow you to customize it to match your kitchen decor.
Put them in upcycled DIY containers
According to The Family Handyman, you can store your folded, knotted, or crumpled bags in any sort of repurposed container. Tissue boxes work particularly well for this because they come with a handy, bag-sized opening to begin with. You can even decorate your new dispenser to match your decor if you wish. And tissue boxes aren’t the only old container you can upcycle for this purpose.
Baby wipe containers work in much the same way, and so do jars, juice jugs, soda bottles, Pringles cans, coffee cans, milk cartons, or any sort of plastic bottle. For plastic jugs or bottles with narrow openings, you may have to cut a reasonable size slit in the side of the bottle to get the bags out easily. You'll probably just need to fold the bags too, as bags that have been knotted don’t usually dispense well from these vessels.
Put them in store-bought bag holders
If DIY isn’t your thing, or you need something neater or more space-saving, then you might want to try one of the fancy bag dispensers they sell on the internet. These dispensers are commonly available in plastic or stainless steel, and come in different shapes and sizes depending on your needs. Available on Amazon and through many other retailers, these devices are undoubtedly effective at holding and organizing all your spare plastic grocery bags, they’ll just cost you more money.
Ultimately, the real solution to a ton of extra plastic bags is to turn them in for recycling at your local grocery store. Single-use plastic bags are a thing of the past and the best thing you can do for yourself and your environmental impact is to quit them entirely, and to invest in some reusable canvas or recycled plastic shopping bags instead. You’ll be glad that you did.