plastic bags

ziplock, freezer, big, little we all use them. We all use a LOT of them and for the most part they are just flipped into the trash. I propose a mind game, lets think of what we can do with the little buggers. We can melt them down at home and turn the resultant into…what?

keeping flies away… ( a ridiculous southern tradition )

Bag of water.jpg

We can melt them down at home and turn the resultant into…what?

A burning house? :wink:

A low cost battery powered edge sealer could turn them into air pockets - an extremely cheap and rapid way of keeping people warm in temporary camps aftetr a natural disaster. Or, use the same principle in the home when you need to send a parcel and don’t have bubble wrap.

Uh, everyone I know just washes them and reuses them, unless particularily greasy or something. Why are you throwing them out?


actually now’s as good a time as any to point out that most supermarket bags now biodegrade… with the interesting side effect that if you leave them around the house for long enough they will basically disintegrate into confetti (I found this out the other day when I reached some of the older bags at the bottom of the drawer)

you can iron them in thicker layers and make messenger bags (or into textile to make something else). Just have to be cautious of breathing in the heated chemicals…

I have heard though that tiny pieces of plastic are worse in the long run than larger ones. There is really no such thing as a biodegradable plastic (unless its made from plants), it will never really break down into its original parts, just smaller and smaller bits of plastic.

Another idea to throw in the overall discussion, why should we find a use for used bags? Maybe the problem is at the beginning of the cycle, the solution may be a better substitute for the bags. Don’t try to use the waste first, try to prevent it!

There are new bio-plastics that can biodegrade in manner of months, even faster (weeks/days) if exposed/agitated to water. But yeah, some of the advertised bio-plastic is only estimated to decompose slightly faster than normal plastics. The industry has to be careful with the term bioplastic, if some aren’t any better than normal plastic the general public may associate all bioplastic (the better ones with the not-so-better ones) as a marketing term as supposed to as a true alternative.

I just save 'em and reuse them whenever I need short term transport. I actually have been carrying all my markers around in one.

Ironing them together is actually fantastic too, it creates some really interesting looks once you can control it.

this is referring to grocery store bags of course.

most toss, some reuse, lets focus on home recycling of sandwich type bags.

I’m with Dubya, instead of solving the symptom, why don’t we address the disease. If you use reusable containers, no need to toss anything. I still use plastic lunch bags, the odd time, but not that much, really. Maybe better storage containers are the key?


Big changes take big time, weaning people off plastic bags and in our germ phobic society damn near impossible. I remember wax paper, and aluminum foil being blown out of the water by plastic bags on the germ front alone. The criteria is what to do with plastic bags, remelted, or re purposed.

i dunno, i don’t see the big changes needed. resuable containers have been around for a while, glass pyrex refrigerator containers since probably 100years or so, plastic tupperware in the 60’s and the newer style of semi-disposable “ziploc” brand types for at least 10 years. sure, some people buy little sandwich baggies, but i think the use is far lower than you might expect. i remember recently when i was teaching a grade 5 class and the students pulled out their lunches, i think every single one used reusable packages - no more wrapping a PB&J in wax paper like the old days. i’d even bet that kids would call their parents out on it if they didn’t…

the better question i think is what re those uses for plastic baggies that are currently not being addressed by reusable containers and how can better use/products address this. for instance, maybe it’s more specialized/general compartment in the fridge to hold things so you don’t need to wrap them up. maybe it’s things like those DIY fold and seal bags that allow you to make a bag any size. maybe some sort of magic spray that keep cut fruit and things fresh by forming a seal, like some of those spray healing products?

until i think we define the real problem better, thinking of ways to recycle bags is at best a knee jerk response and at worst mental masturbation.

in terms of saran wrap and things, i actually just came across a neat product from japan that is essentially a thin sheet of silicone that apparently can be stretched over any reasonable size container, bowl, etc. and forms a seal. haven’t tried it and the pack was all in japanese so dunno exactly how it works (how many times reuse, etc.), but pretty neat.


most ID is mental masturbation lol

Suppose that you could, safely and effectively, melt down those plastic zip top bags in your own home. Could you melt several (probably hundreds) into another re-usable container?

Or, what if you could drop them into a bin a-la Mr Fusion and add power to your house, or car?

How would you get past the toxic fumes likely emitted from melting these bags down? And how much would you expect to pay for a device to do it?

Perhaps instead of melting them down at home, you could find a way to recycle that plastic and have it added to a single-stream recycling system that is already in place? I think that would be a much better alternative. People still drink soda/beer out of aluminum cans, and only use them once. Some get tossed, some get recycled, but there is a system in place. Could you do the same for plastic bags? I think so.

In this city plastic bags are now 5¢ each. People do humorous, insane tricks to avoid buying them. Reusable cloth bags are now more common than plastic.

Polymers can be re-catalyzed to access their carbon; family member chemical engineer spins circles discussing this. The “biodeisel” process can take many forms of high carbon bearing feedstock including waste polymer.

Aren’t there examples of attempts at knitting waste bags? Using modular baled bags?

I had a design concept that turned grocery store plastic bags into Lego like bricks for kids to play with.
i figured the parts didn’t amount to much more than a toast over which would cost just a few dollars to manufacture.
It worked pretty well in my prototype using cookie cutters, a clamp, and a toaster over.
here’s my old blog post about it. BagHacker Survey
I’ll dig up my crude website and post it. I called it the BagHacker.

I liked the idea of teaching kids to recycle and give them toys to play with. Theoretically kids would build some pretty massive structures with it just by using bags from Mom’s weekly grocery trip.

update: found the site i made for it. It’s only 2 pages. FWIW

Here in San Francisco, an ordinance was set in place to reduce the use of plastic grocery bags at the larger grocery stores:

One of the larger grocery stores here (Lucky) has recently begun using plastic grocery bags in a campaign they are calling “Feed Your Brain” paper bag rehab. I actually used the bag for the first time (I usually use the paper grocery bags) to bring my lunch and other stuff to work today. I like the paper bags better.

Anyways, I keep all the plastic bags I find and use them to stuff my homemade archery target.

keeping flies away… ( a ridiculous southern tradition )

I’m from the Northeast, and been living down in the South for years now. I heard about this, obviously skeptical. Did some research, and it actually works (well). You can put a bag up on your porch, no flies, take it away, flies, repeat. I read it was something to do about the paranoid nature of flies and the constantly refracting light from the sun hitting the water, it drives the flies nuts/makes them confused.

But regarding how to reuse the ziplock bags… I just wash them out and reuse them.

Here’s what ChicoBag does with “film” type shopping bags … among other things.

BTW, they’re looking for an Art Director/Designer.
Chico Bag.jpg