Plastic bags can be reused again and again.

Plastic bags aren't just recyclable -- they're 100 percent reusable, too. More than 90 percent of Americans reuse their plastic bags at least once, for everything from storage to waste disposal to packing material.1 If you're interested in some new ways to use your plastic bags, check out our list below.

How do you use plastic bags? Send an e-mail to and share your favorite tips.

Here’s how a few people across the country reuse their bags:

  • I use them for my knitting and crochet projects, tuck a few in our suitcases in case the hotel doesn't not provide a bag for our laundry. We line small trash cans with them, use them to collect trash in our cars. And when we're through reusing them I take them to the recycling center at my local grocery or discount store. –Cecilia from Edna, TX
  • I use them to "pad" a box when I ship something that may rattle, slide, or break. I take them to my art class to use for used paper towels in. And, I donate the ones I have in excess to a local charity that gives food and clothing to the needy, eliminating the need for them to purchase bags. – Jere from Fayetteville, NC
  • I wrap china in them for storage; I stuff plastic sacks in boxes I am mailing to keep items from hitting together; I use the bigger plastic sacks to store receipts to get ready for tax time. Finally, I keep one in the glove compartment of my car. If I get caught in a rainstorm I make a rain cap out of it to keep my hair dry when I get out of the car. I would be lost without them. – Bettie from Athens, GA
  • I saved all my plastic bags and reused them in my bait and tackle store for customers to use them when they picked out their fresh fishing bait. I had several customers bring me their used plastic bags. Saving the bags saved my store approximately $500 to $700 a year. –Beverly Glemming from Pockomoke City, MD
  • Used for keeping plant roots moist while waiting for planting or replanting houseplants. I use plastic bags for many, many things in my life. –Nancy from Kenai, AK
  • We mostly re-use our plastic bags for the same things that everyone else does: lining the smaller trash pails in the bathrooms and picking up after dogs. But we also use them on trips by wrapping shoes in them to keep the dirty soles off of our clean clothes in our suitcases, and also take extra plastic bags on trips to separate our dirty laundry (especially when using duffel bags on weekend trips). – Gretchen from Mount Joy, PA
  • I use plastic bags to put lotions and other items that can spill out into my other dry items like powders in my overnight bags when traveling. –Elizabeth from Round Rock, TX

Around the House

  • Line your kitchen or bathroom trash can instead of buying thicker, less recyclable bags.
  • Know someone with a broken bone? Plastic bags protect casts from water in the shower or bath.
  • Lay one on the counter to collect eggshells and vegetable peelings in a snap.
  • Line kitty litter boxes with plastic bags for easy cleanup.
  • Store off-season holiday decorations in plastic bags to keep them dust-free.
  • Protect valuables when packing or storing breakable items. Plastic bags can cushion them against damage.
  • Line a paint tray next time you paint a room, rather than a using disposable plastic pan liner.
  • Save energy by stuffing a draft dodger with plastic bags instead of sand.
  • Protect plants from frost by wrapping them securely in a plastic bag overnight and removing the bag in the morning.

For Work and School

  • Pack your lunch in plastic for a free weather-proof lunch bag.
  • Store clean gym clothes in a plastic bag—and carry the dirty ones home, too.
  • Keep bags around for wet umbrellas and muddy rain boots.
  • Need to take your work home? Easily carry home files with a plastic bag.
  • Use plastic bags to protect valuables when shipping packages.
  • Wrap paint brushes in a plastic bag to keep them from getting dry and hard. Just stick the wrapped up brushes into the fridge until it's time to use them again.

Out and About

  • Keep a bag in your pocket for when Fido needs to stop during a walk.
  • When traveling, keep dirty clothes away from clean with plastic bags.
  • Gather food or clothing donations in plastic bags for easy transport and drop-off.
  • Store wet or sandy bathing suits in plastic bags for the ride home.
  • Sending a child to camp? Put each day's outfit in a bag, and make getting dressed in the morning a snap.
  • Take plastic bags to stow your garbage from concerts. Amphitheater shows and multi-day music festivals come with a lot of waste, and the trash and recycle bins seem to always overflow by the end. Instead of piling empties on top of an overflowing bin, use a plastic grocery bag to take recyclables home at the end of the show.
  • Donate plastic bags to places like libraries and food banks where bags are often needed.
  1. National Plastic Shopping Bag Recycling Signage Testing, APCO, March 2007

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Learn the Facts

  • Plastic bags are chosen by more than 90 percent of consumers at the checkout. About 9 out of every 10 consumers reuse these bags for everyday household purposes. More »
  • Plastic bags make up a tiny fraction (less than 0.5 percent) of the municipal solid waste stream. More »
  • Plastic bags provide a cleaner, safer option at the grocery store. Many reusable bags contain high levels of lead; microbiologists have found harmful bacteria like E. coli, salmonella and fecal coliform in reusable bags. More »