Now that reusable shopping bags have been made mandatory in so many places, most of us have cloth bags with handles stuffed all over the place. The backseat of the car, the trunk, the kitchen cabinet, the mudroom, etc. We end up with them every time we have a grocery order delivered or forget to take our bags to the store or go to a conference where they hand them out.
So, what do we do with all of these bags? We have more in our home than we could ever possibly use just for groceries! It’s time to go beyond grocery shopping and think outside the box, or bag.
Smart Ideas for What to Do With All Those Reusable Shopping Bags
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Stash some in the trunk of the car to transport items as needed.
These have come in so handy for us many times, not just for picking up groceries.
Store off-season shoes in them.
I use them for sweaters too. The breathable fabric keeps them safe from damage and protected from dust and grime. I store the shoes and sweaters under my bed, hidden by a bed skirt.
Use one as an emergency summertime fun bag.
Stock it with sunscreen in a Ziploc, a couple of extra beach towels, flip-flops, and sun hats. We always have a second bag – the plasticized ones are especially good for this – filled with some summer toys like pails, shovels, sand molds, beach balls, frisbees, and so on.
These are great for spontaneous stops at the beach while out for a drive and can be used at picnic areas too to play and run off some steam. We love to keep refillable water bottles in one of these bags too. These collapsible ones take up very little room and we can fill them up at water filling stations or buy a large bottle of water to share among the family.
Use them to carry and transport party food next time you are invited to an event.
What’s great about this idea is that if the bag gets lost or left behind, it’s no big deal.
Store one in the trunk of your car.
Stock this with things like jumper cables, a flashlight, bungee cords, and extra wiper blades. In the winter, we have a second one with blankets and spare winter clothing in it.
Use them for dog supplies.
Stock one with your dog’s toys, balls, and blankets to keep in the closet. Pull this out when you want to have some playtime with your dog. If you add a leash, doggie cleanup bags, and a water bottle/water dish, this can be grabbed to take along to the dog park too.
Put together an overnight bag.
Pack an overnight emergency bag or spontaneous sleepover bag to grab from the bedroom closet as needed. Add a blanket, pair of pajamas, toiletries, and personal items. These are handy to grab in emergencies or simply so you or your kids are always ready for a fun spontaneous night with friends.
Keep a knitting or crochet bag (or embroidery or other easily transportable crafts) filled with your latest project at the ready.
When your friends plan a fiber art or crafting night or you get an opportunity to attend the local knitters meeting at the library, you can just grab your nifty knitting bag and go. It makes it easy to grab it to use in various parts of your home too and then keeps all the parts together in between crafting.
Yoga to go.
Set aside a reusable shopping bag for your yoga mat, essential oils spray, bolster, blocks, and strap. I. have one of these in my closet that I can grab to do yoga in my bedroom, the living room, take it outside on a nice day, or transport it to the yoga studio with ease.
You can use them for dance classes or classes at the gym too.
Games to go.
How many times have you wished you had your checkerboard, Uno, or a simple deck of cards well at the park, enjoying a hot drink at a cafe or just hanging out with a friend? Dedicate a bag to your favorite family games. No matter where you travel, you’ll never be bored.
Turn them into trick-or-treat bags.
Lots of bags have seasonal designs and the fall ones are especially pretty with colored leaves and the bright golden crimson fall color palette. You can also use fabric dyes and designs cut with your Cricut machine to spruce them out.
Hide gifts from your family.
Stash Christmas gifts in them and tuck them away in the back corners of your closets, attic, or shelf in the basement. You can even throw off sneaky searchers by mixing up the theme, i.e. hiding Christmas-wrapped presents in Spring and fall-themed bags.
I even have one bag dedicated to anytime gifts. These can be used when someone is sick enough to have to stay home but still in need of a mood booster, for a spontaneous occasion (someone gets engaged, for example), when you have unexpected guests during the holidays, and so on.
Keep some reusable bags in your closet to hold items you want to donate to the thrift store.
This is a great way to continually purge unneeded items from your home as you’ll have a place to put them until you can grab the bag and take it to the shop.
Keep two in the backseat of your car.
One reusable bag is for packaged snacks, handy wipes, and paper towels. For the other, line with a regular garbage bag and have your kids toss their trash in there after they eat the snacks. We like to keep toilet paper in the car as well in one of these bags (protected from dirt by a Ziploc) to use in public bathrooms where they may have run out along with spare diapers and pull-ups.
Fill a reusable bag with craft supplies that you can take along to visit friends who have kids the same age.
No need to go crazy, just a few coloring books and some markers or crayons, and a puzzle or two should keep them busy while the parents spend some time enjoying a cup of tea and catching up.
Dedicate a reusable bag for storage of electronic cords, adapters, and chargers.
When someone says “have you seen my phone charger?”, direct them to the bag. We like to hang this on a hook in a closet to make it easy to find.
Use them for camping or for your kids to take to camp.
These bags are great for carrying pillows and other camping supplies. They help keep things clean and contained but can be squeezed in much more easily than hard-sided suitcases. And if they get ruined at camp, you haven’t invested a lot of money in them.
Fill up a bag with seasonal tablecloths.
Put it up on a shelf in the linen closet. When it’s time to freshen up the table for a new season, you’ll have nice clean tablecloths at the ready.
Tired of your children’s musical instrument collection being scattered about the playroom?
Get organized with reusable shopping bags. The ones with handles are the perfect size for holding child-sized flutes, toy drums, percussion sticks, triangles, symbols, and all of those delightfully noisy musical toys.
Donate extra bags to charities.
Our local community fridge and pantry like to use these bags for people who come to pick up food. Our church has also started collecting them because they are then used for handing out donations to those in need.
Use them as tomato planters.
That’s right. You can plant tomatoes – upside down – in these bags. Fill the bag with dirt. Then, cut a slit in the bottom of it to accommodate the roots of the plant. Hang it up and keep it watered.
Turn them into your library book bags.
We like to keep one or two hanging up in a closet or on a hook. As we finish our library books, they go into one of the bags. Then, there’s no last-minute hunt around the house to find them on library day.
Make one into a prayer bag.
I’m a big proponent of using baskets or reusable bags to keep things together and easily portable. That includes my prayer journals and Bible studies. I use one for my current Bible study (complete with Bible, notebook, Bible-safe pens, and so on).
Then, I have another one to use during prayer time. That one is filled with my prayer journal (containing pages for me to write on as well as pages listing any prayer requests and some prayers for different occasions), pens, notecards (so I can write notes to people who come up in prayer), and so on.
Use a bag for each of the courses you take.
If you’re like me and take a lot of online courses, you might find this useful. I put all the books and resources for each course into their own bag. That keeps everything together in one place for you and when you’re ready to work on one of the courses, you just grab the appropriate bag.
Turn them into pillows or quilts.
Cut off the handles. For a pillow, place a pillow form or stuffing inside. Then, sew the open edge closed. You can even use up old clothing or more of the shopping bags as the stuffing. Or cut apart the two sides of a bunch of the bags and sew them together to make a quilt. This is an especially good way to make a quilt out of ones you may have acquired from places you have traveled to and want to keep as souvenirs.