Upcycled Micro Bags & Bins — Made From Plastic Bag Trash

Upcycled micro bag made from plastic bag waste and fabric scraps

Though this is primarily a garden blog, I like to toss in a few posts about creativity and upcycling from time to time, since those also inspire me and feel in sync with nature itself: creative and cyclic.

One of the recycling challenges that always stumps me is what to do with the plastic bags you can’t seem to avoid accumulating?

What To Do With the Plastic Bags Accumulated During the Pandemic?
Upcycled micro bag made from fused plastic bags and fabric scraps. This one has a front pocket for a cell phone.

The pandemic meant more online ordering and that, in turn, resulted in more plastic packaging. Our recycling center no longer takes them. The most environmental option, of course, is to avoid them in the first place. But sometimes that is really difficult. I make some effort but can’t claim to be great at it, and it was even harder during the pandemic. Besides online ordering, cloth produce bags were not allowed for the last year at our local market, due to regulations. (We could use our own shopping bags if we packed ourselves, which I did, but I’m talking about produce bags that you collect, say, carrots or apples in. See this post.) So, I ended up with more plastic bag waste than normal. It bothers me to put it in the trash, out of concern it will end up in the ocean, and just the senselessness of a single use material.

Fused-plastic Upcycled Micro Bags & Bins

One thing you can do with plastic bag waste is fuse it to make into other things. This is pretty easy, and How-To’s can be found in a quick internet search, like in this video or on this site. Be sure to follow the instructions, like use wax paper above and below your plastic layer and avoid getting the plastic on your iron or ironing board! And turn off the steam on your iron. Ventilation is probably a good idea, just to be on the safe side.

A few years ago I tried fusing plastic for the first time, just for fun, and I’ve enjoyed using the items around the house. So this last week, I made some more. I suppose these could be called a wrist bag or small tote or micro bag. I plan to use one of these in my gym bag for protecting my cell phone and ID from surrounding wet towels or clothes. They might also get used to carry a little sketchpad and colored pencils during a garden walk. Or, maybe a purse insert so I can dash in to a cafe for take out espresso with only the essentials, instead of dragging in my 500 pound purse, which might as well be called a Survival Carryall — ready for any calamity. And I could see using them to protect seed packets that I’m taking out to the garden.

These tiny tote bags are small and fun to make. I used fabric scraps for handles and pockets but using cloth is not necessary. I also didn’t bother with finished edges on all the fabric. I’m not going to put them in the washer, after all, and moreover, I like a few stray fibers for a frayed look. You can make a larger, fused-plastic shopping bag, as shown here.

Upcycled plastic bags into satchels
Upcycled plastic bags into simple wrist bags. For an easy closure, make the back side longer for a fold-over flap, and stick on a Velcro tab to close. The bag on the bottom right is used for household item storage–in this case, curtain rings.

I also enjoy the somewhat funky, fused-plastic bathroom trash bins I made several years ago. Some of the plastic was actually FROM the bathroom trash. 🙂

I keep thinking I’ll make some mini-greenhouse plant protectors for the garden–to keep the cold and wind off of tender transplants. One day.

If you haven’t heard of fusing plastic and you find it inspiring, I hope you’ll share what you do!

If you want tips from a pro at reducing plastic in your life, check out this site: My Plastic-free Life by Beth Terry.

Also, I want to give appreciation to some garden and upcycling bloggers I enjoy that I haven’t mentioned before. If you are like me, you love other people’s garden as well as your own! Check them out!

The Nostalgic Gardener, Belgium
Sarah the Gardener, New Zealand
A Potager In France
Flipped Her Lid, U.S. — upcycled furniture!

Back to the garden next time!

Visit the Home Page here. Or, read the garden blog! See more Upcycling posts!

Scabiosa atropurpurea aka Pincushion flower — beloved by bees and butterflies! Annie’s Annuals has a good selection.

8 thoughts on “Upcycled Micro Bags & Bins — Made From Plastic Bag Trash

  1. What a clever idea! I love your little tote bags and the bathroom bins. One of the things I hate about online ordering, especially for clothes, is each item is wrapped in clear plastic, which strikes me as totally unnecessary. Will definitely bookmark your links. Oh and thanks for the mention 😉

    1. Thx Sel! I feel the same: those clothes bags are so unnecessary! Do they recycle the plastic bags where you live? They used to here, but stopped. You are welcome RE the mention… I like sharing what I myself enjoy!

    2. They have just expanded the plastic waste recycling here to include plastic wrapping and bags – before it was only bottles – but to be honest I hesitate when I put them in the recycling bin – there’s always a doubt the plastic could end up tipped in a river in some faraway country and end up in the ocean.

  2. Love this! I’ve been wondering what to do with all my plastic bags, I’ll have to give this a try! Thanks for the mention!

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