Paper Bags

Considering our country’s economic position in the last several years, it almost seems like our civic duty to buy something new as often as we can… and shopping bags have been there with us throughout the good times and the bad, enabling us to tote home our shiny new booty without losing crucial bits and pieces along the way (luckily, many stores are hopping on the reusable bag train). There comes a time, however, when cupboard and under-sink stashes of old bags runneth over.

You can brown bag your lunch all you want and still find that there may be enough bags remaining to circle the globe at least one time, which sort of presents an eco-conundrum. Is it acceptable to purge unintended overstock in the nearest waste receptacle — presuming that since paper bags are… well… made of paper, that they’ll eventually biodegrade anyway – or pawn them off at an upcoming garage sale…or just resolve to use them in the kitty litter box? Decisions, decisions. Admittedly, the garbage is a tempting solution since it offers instant decluttering gratification, but perhaps perusing and clicking on the following recycled brown paper bag ideas will make you realize what potential you have lurking beneath the sink.

  1. Artchala Handmade demonstrates that recycled brown paper can be transformed into a very chic monetary necessity – their great-looking wallet is apparently even washable.
  2. Free cat toy: Leave an open brown paper bag on the floor and watch your feline entertain themselves for a good 30 minutes, especially if you randomly flick the outside with your finger.  
  3. The next present you surprise someone with, be sure to whip up your own version of these hand stitched, fabric trimmed gift tags
  4. DIY faux leather flooring is just a hop, skip and a jump away once you follow this tutorial
  5. Weave old brown bags into catch-all baskets to help you achieve your organizational goals. 
  6. Chemical-free, ridiculously affordable microwavable popcorn is a cinch with a recyclable bag – you don’t even need oil to do it up right!
  7. Handmade, sensationally sustainable shipping envelopes are a lot easier to make than you might imagine… plus they’ll save you mucho dinero, especially during gift-giving season.
  8. Scribble down your daily musings in a customized brown paper bag journal accented with your own personal rainbow art work.
  9. Tuck homemade donuts into a paper bag filled with cinnamon-sugar or other seasonings to coat evenly. Just shake-shake-shake and then pig out!
  10. Hostesses with the mostest – now you can make party favor packets without taking out a small personal loan! 
  11. You think that plastic wrap is a necessity in your household – nope! This sustainable food wrap is made from old paper bags. Definitely gives one food for thought.
  12. Use old bags as a backdrop for your unique cartooning skills as Sabrina Jones has done. 
  13. Chase away wintertime chills by making your own recycled brown paper fireplace logs.
  14. Sylvia Heisel & Rebecca Cole Marshall’s brown recycled paper dress reveals hidden inspirational quotes from some of history’s most celebrated literary and cultural figures when the wearer’s body heat triggers natural wear and tear… or you might prefer making your very own strapless party frock, instead. 
  15. Want to strut down the street with Chanel but lack the fat bank account? This DIY handbag project will help you to fulfill your inner fashionista, tree hugger and cheapie all at the same time (with plenty of humor to spare)! 
  16. Accent your business ensemble with this smart-looking laminated brown paper bag briefcase – the price isn’t too shabby, either!
  17. Make a seasonal door wreath that’s a little girlie or perhaps one that is slightly less flouncy.
  18. Collage the top of an old stool with paper bag scraps adorned in complementary metallic tones for a one-of-a-kind décor statement. (Hmmm… since it works on a piece of furniture, why wouldn’t it work on a wall, too?)
  19. Show your kiddies how to make this exotic-looking recycled rainforest or a treasure map that will help them locate long lost pirate booty!
  20. Hang your recycled brown paper Christmas stockings by the chimney with care! 
  21. Make some Halloween-inspired gargoyle decorations that the kids will go gaga for.
  22. Add crafty panache to your wardrobe with a recycled paper bag beaded bracelet or a quilled necklace/earring combo. 
  23. Your snail mail letters will make an unforgettable impression when your envelopes are gleaned from rescued grocery bags and accented with colorful inserts.  

Image: Denise Carbonell 

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