Untrashing Your Plastic Trash Bags

Posted by Vivian McNeil on

With the warm weather upon us and some of us still at home with the children, this is a great time to start some new creative projects at home. With the advent of COVID-19, the plastic bag ban is now on hold and people are looking for imaginative ways to use their grocery and accumulating trash bags at home. Have you overbought trash bags thinking they might go out of stock? Then these projects will cost you zero in expense and free fun in the bargain. There are so many different plastic bag projects to develop using simple plastic bags that you already have in your possession. From a simple rain poncho to a sophisticated tote, the following three projects go from simple to more fanciful. Speak to your children and find out what attracts their fancy.

For the younger ones, especially the boys, the rain poncho is a winner. You may be surprised when these same youngsters will be the ones cutting up the plastic bags to make the plarn that the older kids will use to make their plarn projects from small purses to large flower pots or some colorful totes in between. You can always find short YouTube videos to watch that explain the directions in a more visual and hands on way. The instructions in this article should be come-ons for you and your children to search for some more fun projects too numerous to list here. 

Imagine leaving your home when the sun is shining and there is not a cloud in the sky. No one could foresee that you would need a bunch of raincoats for your entire stay when you arrive at your destination. As the saying goes, save it for a rainy day.  In this instance, we suggest keeping a pair of good scissors along with some heavy-duty trash bags in your car so the whole family will stay dry when you are in a pinch. 

DIY Poncho Idea: How to Make a Trash Bag Raincoat 

Let us begin by learning how to create the handy rain poncho. No one wants to be caught in the rain without a rain poncho so here is one that is so easy to make at the last minute when friends and family are trying to go home after a visit to your home. When the rain begins, and no one is prepared with the proper rain gear or your family is caught by surprise by a summer rainstorm these will certainly come in handy. 

Remove a black trash bag from its box carefully. Look for the bottom of the bag, the part which usually goes on the bottom of the trash can. Cut a half a circle to create the opening for the top of the head. Children will need a smaller opening than adults. The opening should be large enough for the head to push through evenly (watch out for those sensitive hairdos!), yet not too big that the top of the clothes will show. Next are the armholes which are simply half circle cuts on the fold lines which will be your guide. The instant rain poncho is now ready for the inclement weather. 

For a variety of fun easy projects for kids, do not limit your trash bags to the standard black ones but try using different colored trash bags instead. For younger children, stickers with unique themes will make each child feel that their interests are being developed and when a rainy day does come, they will be more than happy to put on their own novel creations. These trash bag ponchos are not limited to the rain. They double perfectly as disposable arts and crafts and baking aprons for the young and old. Aprons can be a pain to wash in the washing machine with their ties getting caught in the center of the machine or around other garments. If you are like me, at this moment I now have access to garbage bags which I stocked up on for fear of running out during the pandemic so why not use them inventively. 

Easy Flowers Using Colored Garbage Bags 

Here are the items you will need to make lovely flowers out of lightweight colored garbage bags (white is fine for beginners): Sharp scissors, rubber bands and colored pipe cleaners ( for more realism use green rubber bands and green pipe cleaners). 

  1. Begin by flattening and folding the lightweight garbage bag lengthwise.
  2. Make folds as you would be making a fan - keep turning so folds are inverted each time.
  3. When the bag is gathered like a fan, secure the middle with a rubber band.
  4. Tie with the pipe cleaner so that there is a long stem coming out.
  5. Trim the edges on both sides with a slight slant.
  6. Open the folds gently until your flower begins to blossom.
  7. Trim if necessary. 

Flower bouquets can be constructed with this simple pattern and different color bags for a dramatic effect.  After you get the hang of it, you can check out different types of flowers that you can make using various colored lightweight garbage bags. For example, yellow and black bags will make sunflowers.  

Trash Bag Plarn 

I am an avid crochet enthusiast and I possess a nice collection of yarns to work with. I have a stash of all different types of yarn in my craft closet ranging from thin cottons to thick yarn for scarves. But when I heard the word, plarn I was intrigued. Take the word, plastic and mix it with the word, yarn and what do you get? plarn. Anything that a yarn artist can make can be made with plarn. Environmentalists inspire others to make plarn out of used grocery store bags. They stress that plastic is harmful for the environment and by reusing these plastic bags they believe that they are preventing these plastic wastes from filling up landfills and helping the environment. 

There are different types of plastic bags that can be used to make plarn. We will describe how to cut up your regular color trash bags to make unbelievable arts and crafts projects that can be used proudly by both children and adults. A bonus is that these items will not get ruined in the rain. 

Learning How to Make Plarn 

  1. Take a trash bag, creased or new, flatten it and then fold it lengthwise.
  2. Using a yardstick if possible, cut the bottom of the trash bag.
  3. Using the yardstick as a guide, cut strips of about 1.25 in width.
  4. After separating the folds of each strip, open the loops and lay them out on a large table. They should look like flat thin and long ovals.
  5. For thicker yarn, which is suggested, do not cut the strips in half. If you would like a thinner yarn you can cut them, and you will have twice the length, but it will take you longer to crochet.
  6. Place the first strip below the second and knot them. Do not tie them too tight or the ends will look much thinner than the middle. You should just make a soft knot.
  7. Continue joining the strips until you have enough strips for your project. 

Making the plarn does take time and it should be enjoyed as part of the project. For those who would like to purchase ready-made plarn fashioned from recycled bags, that is a definite possibility and can be searched for online. Libraries and community centers may offer classes on plarn projects and the internet has many free patterns as well. 

Tote Bag from Garbage Bag Plarn 

Let’s check out how some creative minds make new bags out of old bags. In high school, I would make small rectangle purses in different color yarns to match different outfits. For anyone who is a beginner crocheter, plarn crochet is not that different. The first thing I would like to explain is how the patterns made with grocery bag plarn and garbage bag plarn differ. Most grocery bags are not completely solid and usually have writing on them. This allows for interesting tweedy patterns to emerge when using them for tote bags and other interesting craft ideas. If using trash bags of different colors, the project will have a more uniform look, as stripes or solids. Both types of bags make interesting contrasts. 

If you are an experienced crocheter these instructions are superfluous. However, if you have never crochet before, jump in. 

  1. You will need a 6.5 or 7.5 crochet hook since the garbage bag plarn we have described above is called Super Bulky weight plarn.
  2. Plan on the approximate size of your tote.
  3. Begin crocheting double crochet stitches or any other of your choice. (We will not detail these stitches in this article. Please refer to regular crochet instructions)
  4. Crochet a rectangle twice as long as you want your tote to be.
  5. Fold the piece in half matching the two short sides. 
  6. Crochet or stitch the sides together leaving the top open.
  7. Crochet the handle or use a ready-made handle and attach to the top and your bag is completed. 

There are so many ways to use trash bag plarn which are not in the limited scope of this article. Have fun with these original plastic bag projects to use them for fun or as a conservation effort. Whether you will make something as simple as the rain poncho or more complicated like the plarn tote bag you are in a win-win situation. The bonus is that most of the necessary tools are right in your own home, garage, kitchen, or trash can.

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