Stop Buying Bags: Strange Ways to Save

Plastic bags of all descriptions make up more of our budgets than we would like. Sandwich bags, storage bags, trash bags, and yard waste bags all contribute to our monthly spending. However, I have a friend who claims to have spent nothing on storage or trash bags for over two years. How does she do it? She substitutes other, “free” bags in place of the ones you buy. There are lots of sources for “free” bags.

  • Cereal/snack liner bags: My friend uses the waxy bags found in cereal and snack boxes in place of storage bags. All she needs is a twist tie or clip to seal them and keep the freshness in. She’s also been known to cut open these types of bags and use them as storage wrap, since their waxy consistency doesn’t make them that different from waxed paper.
  • Zipper bags from other foods: Many foods come in zipper bags. Generic cereals are a great example. These bags not only zip, they are generally tough enough to go in the freezer. Other foods come in zippered bags including some brands of tortillas, chips, and many frozen foods.
  • Newspaper bags: The bag your daily newspaper comes in can be used as a lightweight storage bag, or as a sandwich bag for your lunch. They are also lightweight and clingy enough that they can be cut open and used for plastic wrap. (My friend suggests cutting the top off to make the bag shorter and easier to handle.)
  • Produce bags: When you bring home produce from the store, the plastic bags can be reused for lunch or short term storage. As with newspaper bags, they can be used for wrap, as well.
  • Bread bags: Bread, buns, and bakery items all come in plastic bags that can be reused for storage or lunch carrying purposes. Some of the lighter weight ones work for wrap, too, and some of the heavier duty ones can be used in the freezer.
  • Plastic shopping bags: The ubiquitous plastic shopping bag makes a great bag for a small trash can. They’re also good for collecting pet poop and can replace store bought poop bags. If you buy big items, many department stores like Target, Kohl’s, and WalMart will give you a bigger bag that will fit a kitchen trash can. A plus: Most have handles, a feature you pay extra for if you buy trash bags.
  • Paper grocery bags: If your grocery store offers paper bags, these work well in kitchen trash cans. They can also be used for yard waste since many municipalities now require you to bag yard waste in paper instead of plastic.
  • Paper shopping bags: Some stores give out nicer shopping bags that fold out into sturdy shapes with handles. Some have reinforced bottoms. If they’re big enough, they might fit into a trash can. Otherwise, they make great tote bags for carrying lunch to work, carrying picnic items, or helping pack and organize things for a road trip.

Note that my friend takes care to thoroughly wash all bags before reusing them. She also will not reuse anything that has stored meat since the contamination risk is too high. It may seem strange to reuse all these bags, but with the sheer number of bags around you every day my friend would argue that it’s stranger to pay for bags.

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8 Responses to Stop Buying Bags: Strange Ways to Save

  1. Joan says:

    Why does she think she cannot wash out bags sufficiently when raw meat has been in them? Does she also throw away the knives and cutting boards used for meat?

  2. I don’t reuse that many plastic bags, but I also don’t buy many. Plastic containers are easier to wash and dry, and hold food just fine. For many short term storage (say covering a batch of muffins, a pretty cloth napkin does a better job)

    The only bag we reuse is a double bread bag. It is the perfect size to fit a days worth of clothes when camping, keeps the clothes dry and gives you a place to put the old ones.

  3. Kacy says:

    Large pet food bags make excellent trash bags. They also make washable lined cloth sandwich baggies that are cheaper than the numerous plastic baggies that they replace.

  4. Where I live, many stores now charge 5c for bags, so I only use them now as garbage bag replacements. Ziplock bags and such are easily reused, but I also wouldn’t reuse a plastic bag that’s had raw meat in it, except for garbage or recycling.

  5. Grover says:

    I agree with Kacy above…. and so do the large kitty litter bags, Kacy.
    My Wal*Mart now offers in their produce department the ‘green bags’ that are supposedly made to extend the life of your fruits & vegetables. They are FREE!
    Isn’t that superific?!?!?! :)

  6. Ellae says:

    I wouldn’t consider using the bag the paper comes in unless I were storing a non-food item. Most of the time that bag is dir-TY! Also, I just use Couponing to get free or nearly free Ziploc bags and I’m okay with that.

  7. Norma G says:

    Thanks for the advice. I was about to start buying these again. I’ll think about it. I had been using the generic brand plastic wrap. As good as the brand.

  8. creativegeek23 says:

    this may be a bit over the top for me

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