No more paper or plastic – 5 Great DIY ideas for Reusable Shopping Bags

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So you are going green on a budget, or just want a bag that makes more of a statement than the branded shopping bag from your local store? Reusable shopping bags are an eco-friendly solution to a growing waste problem. Each year, 38 billion plastic bags are thrown away in the US alone. Only a tiny percentage of these bags are recycled – the rest:

  • Make their way to the ocean and kill thousands of marine creatures each year.
  • Some float through the air, endangering birds and littering the streets.
  • Others sit in landfills and decompose, contaminating the water, soil, and food supply with harmful micro-toxins.
It costs more to recycle a plastic bag than it does to make a new one.  Photo by TimParkinson
It costs more to recycle a plastic bag than it does to make a new one. Photo by TimParkinson

Plastic bags also increase our dependency on nonrenewable oil – the material polyethylene is derived from oil and is used to manufacture bags. Some grocery chains are doing their part by offering a green alternative to disposable shopping bags at checkout lines while others have decided to add a fee for the use of bags to encourage shoppers to bring their own tote. A number of areas are banning plastic shopping bags completely.

How to Make Your Own Reusable Shopping Bag

Handmade eco-friendly bags make wonderful shopping companions and are just as much fun to make! Some are extremely simple – perfect kid-friendly crafts – while other shopping bag patterns are more time-consuming and require a little skill. From recycling harmful plastic bags to reusing old clothing, these do-it-yourself ideas are as eco friendly as they are creative.

Green shopping bags are stronger and roomier than their harmful disposable counterparts, not to mention much better looking. Be sure to make a few for friends and family too – consuming fewer bags saves oil, saves animals, and improves the landscape as well.

Make a Tee-Bag

A great use for your favorite old tshirt.  Photo via WildOnion
A great use for your favorite old tshirt. Photo via WildOnion

This reusable shopping bag pattern is so easy a child could make it – in fact, the 10 year old behind Tee Bags contributed the simple steps needed to make your own eco friendly bag from a t-shirt!

A Rogan Gregory Exclusive

Show your eco-fashion sense with this unique bag design by Rogan Gregory.  Photo via TeenVogue
Show your eco-fashion sense with this unique bag design by Rogan Gregory. Photo via TeenVogue

A fashionable crocheted tunic can create a one of a kind reusable shopping bag that looks chic and sophisticated, even when its brimming with your favorite fruits and veggies. While this pattern is a bit more involved than the tee-bag above, its stylishness makes the extra effort worthwhile. Visit TeenVougue to learn how to make your own Rogan Gregory eco tote

Reuse Colorful Sheets to Make a Unique Shopping Bag

Turn your old curtains, sheets, and blankets into creative Morsbags and eliminate wasted plastic and paper.  Photo by notsogoodphotography
Turn your old curtains, sheets, and blankets into creative Morsbags. Photo by notsogoodphotography

Morsbags have taken homemade reusable shopping bags to a whole new level. Not only are these eco friendly bags easy to make, they cost next to nothing! Best of all, Morsbags encourages us to spread the environmental love by forming a pod and donating bags throughout the community.

Another Way to Reuse Your Favorite Tee

T-shirts make durable shopping bags that are easy to clean.  The next pattern includes pockets for an incredibly versatile tote.  Photo by Quartermane
T-shirts make durable shopping bags that are easy to clean. Photo by Quartermane

Another way to reuse your old t-shirts, this green shopping bag pattern includes pocket designs to make your tote more functional. Durable straps and a fold-over flap add to the appeal; rescuing old t-shirts from the garbage makes it even better!

Reusable Totes Made From Recycled Bags

Colorful, intriguing, super strong, and removes up to 100 plastic bags from the waste stream per tote!  Photo by Natalia Trico
Colorful, intriguing, super strong, and removes up to 100 plastic bags from the waste stream per tote! Photo by Natalia Trico

Crocheted shopping bags typically expand easier than cloth totes. This pattern offers even more elasticity and is stronger than 50 plastic shopping bags. Turning plastic bags into recycled yarn is a tedious process, but the eco friendly shopping bags they create are stylish and extremely durable.

There are hundreds of reusable shopping bag patterns available online – these are just 5 of our faves. Feel free to share your own resources and thoughts on eco friendly shopping bags in the comments!

23 thoughts on “No more paper or plastic – 5 Great DIY ideas for Reusable Shopping Bags”

  1. In Ireland our Government introduced a Plastic Bag Tax of 22 cent per bag and ran a television campaign at the same time, most people now only use reusable bags, its great not to see plastic bags littering the countryside and the landfills.

  2. I love the chicobag. Weighing just 1.5 ounces and being so compact, I keep it in my purse every day. It’s great for trips to the farmer market and light grocery shopping. My office gave us each one for free when implementing our recycing program and I use it often. Being in San Francisco, the first city in the US to ban plastic bags, it’s great to have a reusable bag handy.

  3. Let's face it though. As cute as these kinds of things are, plastic bags are all about utility. Can they hold everything you need to carry? Are they readily available when it's time to use them? Can they be easily cleaned if they get dirty? I've been trying to ditch plastic for years, failing pretty bad. I'm better since I've got my Breezy Bags (http://www.breezybags.com) since they're small, I have them with me.

  4. Let's face it though. As cute as these kinds of things are, plastic bags are all about utility. Can they hold everything you need to carry? Are they readily available when it's time to use them? Can they be easily cleaned if they get dirty? I've been trying to ditch plastic for years, failing pretty bad. I'm better since I've got my Breezy Bags (http://www.breezybags.com) since they're small, I have them with me.

  5. I started up a conversation with some other fish lovers and heard the strangest thing ever, you must boil the sand/gravel several times before introducing them to the Aquarium you should do the exact same thing with any type of wood that you might use as background. Such elements found in any natural environment can bring bacteria which whilst being non-damaging in nature, when brought into such a small place can spread and become harmful to the fish.

  6. I started up a conversation with some other fish lovers and heard the strangest thing ever, you must boil the sand/gravel several times before introducing them to the Aquarium you should do the exact same thing with any type of wood that you might use as background. Such elements found in any natural environment can bring bacteria which whilst being non-damaging in nature, when brought into such a small place can spread and become harmful to the fish.

  7. All the products are looks cool but i love the chicobag among all.. As Vanessa told it is great for trips to the farmer market and light grocery shopping.. We have to order them or they will readily available at the shop?
    gift baskets for men

  8. All the products are looks cool but i love the chicobag among all.. As Vanessa told it is great for trips to the farmer market and light grocery shopping.. We have to order them or they will readily available at the shop?
    gift baskets for men

  9. Anyone who uses plastic bags for anything other than to line their bins is an environmental vandal. It's disgraceful that we still allow this vile, polluting, animal killing habit. Even if we just switched to paper bags for those people who forget to bring their small resuable bag to the supermarket?

    I suggest people use the lessons on this page to make a bag that says “Only idiots use plastic bags” or something along those lines.

  10. Michelle, here's a fact: American's want everything to be easy for them at any cost. Yes, reusable bags can be washed if they get dirty. As a bonus, most reusable bags hold 3x as much as 1 plastic. If you absolutely cannot quit plastic then reuse the plastic bags. Bring them with you. In the end, plastic is ending up in our fields and oceans causing harm to wildlife and nature. By using them you are saying this is acceptable.

    Bottom Line: Life isn't more difficult not using plastic bags. You just might actually have to clean up after yourself instead of just tossing it in the trash to pollute the Earth out of laziness.

  11. That's great ideal. But I am used to go shopping online. Easy and cheaper than Mall. Especially when you got some online shopping coupons. I usually find these at Digcoupons. Nice place before you shopping online.

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