As more and more stores are going green, there are more opportunities to skip the environmentally harmful plastic bags and use a bag safer for the environment – often available at the store for an additional fee. But you can make your own environmentally friendly bags for little to no cost with these ideas for great recycled bags.

First: consider which materials you have already. Many of us have a lot of old t-shirts that that don’t get worn but have a sentimental value. Instead of letting them crowd your dresser drawers, you can use them to make easy and cute recycled bags. Start by cutting off the sleeves inside the seam. Then, using a bowl, cut around the neck. This will become your opening – you can use a large or small bowl with the guideline: the larger the bowl, the bigger the opening. Then sew the bottom sides of the shirt together and voila – you have a cute bag but the essence of the t-shirt remains so you can remember that concert, vacation spot or school event forever with an environmentally friendly recycled bag.

Next idea: the recycled candy wrapper bag. You may have seen these adorable bags in stores, but they’re also fun and easy to make at home. First, you’ll need to eat, er, collect hundreds of candy wrappers. If eating that much candy isn’t for you, experienced crafters suggest there are all kinds of items around your house you can use in addition to candy wrappers – think old magazines, junk food bags, menus, junk mail, wrapping paper, or torn gift bags.  Once you’ve collected the wrappers you cut them into small strips, reinforce them with clear packing tape, and weave the wrappers together – you’ll have an incredibly cute recycled bag when you’re finished. Step-by-step how-to videos are available on You Tube and many different websites.

Have a lot of newspapers lying around? You can cut the paper into streams and weave the strips of the paper together to make a wonderful recycled bag or even a basket. To your craftwork more durable, you can spray it with a finish or line the inside with recycled plastic.

Other people have used old curtains, bed sheets and tablecloths to create their own recycled bags. Just cut them into 18” x 14” rectangles. Sew them together and add a durable handle. You can even add a pocket for your grocery list or coupons. The great thing about making bags out of old bed sheets is that you’ll have quite a bit of the same material and can easily make a matched set of bags.

Some people save their bags from the grocery store because they intend to re-use them later, but then they begin to pile up. One solution is to take all those bags and turn them into a funky new bag. First select several plastic bags in various colors.  Cut the bag(s) into strips about an inch wide – the length or width is up to you, but you can always tape piece together if you need to make them longer. Weave the strips together, add a handle and voila – a cute little recycled bag.

Making environmentally friendly bags is a great way to use up extra materials you already have lying around the house. You can cut down on the use of plastics, get rid of your excess junk and create a cute gift for your friends, all while helping to save the environment. 

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