Picture of Recycle Plastic Shopping Bags into 'Yarn'
Recycling plastic grocery bags and plastic shopping bags is nothing really new, but I like to do my recycling without smelling up my environment. If you merely return your bags to your local grocer for recycling, they will melt them down to make new bags. This emits more pollution into the air. I have also discovered that fusing plastic bags with an iron releases noxious fumes into your home and I don't think that's any better. So, in come the scissors.

Step 1: Lay out a plastic bag.

Picture of Lay out a plastic bag.
The best bags for this are the really thin ones you get from the chain grocers and places like Walmart. The thicker ones are more difficult to work with.

Lay out a plastic bag, tucking in the side seams and smoothing the bag flat. It doesn't have to be perfect.
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Starsword79 months ago


Great use for plastic bags!

muzcee7 years ago
Nice work, But you you must have too much time on your hands :)
tldudenhoeffer (author)  muzcee7 years ago
Quite frankly, I tell everyone that time is the only thing we have more than enough of. You have to decide what you want to do with it. Knitting & crocheting are things that can be done while walking, watching tele, riding the bus, waiting for an appointment. So, it's not a matter of too much time, but a matter of how to allocate the free time God has given you while you're waiting for the rest of your life to get moving. ;)

I crochet in waiting rooms much more than I would like to admit... XD

What a Perfect Response. We all have these pockets of time that are .. stagnant, for lack of a better word, some read, some think, some listen to talk radio, some just veg out... We get to pick what to fill these unavoidable times with. I, too, crochet while stuck anywhere or riding in car while Husband drives. I wish I had Too Much Time but I don't. I fill what extra time I have with what I love to do and from it emerges fun and usable objects/items.

Thank you for this tute. I have not seen it and I love reusable bags so this one will be on my to-make list. I just got a huge hook--maybe an S or so and I think that's the one for this job. See you with a pic of the finish someday soon. Thanks again.

Would this work in making 3d printing filament?

solar world5 months ago
kc8hps3 years ago
This brings back memories. My grandmother 40 years ago did this. she would crochet the bags and make oval rugs out of them. they were strudy and thick, she used them as entry mats at the doors of her home. being water proof they lasted a long time.
kbp555 kc8hps7 months ago

Your comment reminded me of my grandmother. She made rugs from dry cleaner bags, which you'd think would be flimsy, but actually made very durable rugs. :)

i wonder if i could make a hammok with this
tldudenhoeffer (author)  PieMaster7778 months ago

Yes, you could make a hammock with this. I would double up the strips and use a hook 2 sizes larger for it.

NRG4UandMe8 months ago

its true, u heat to melt these and fumes are given off ... if u do it in a garage or with an adequate fan/filter to pull the fumes out of the area ... at least u dont contaminate the house ..

vcascarano1 year ago

i am on my 5 th bag these r great it takes me about 2 months to 2 weeks depending on the size i have made a diaper bag for my neice actually these r great for the victims of purse snatcher's so shame on u that steal peoples's purses! i make them nice and thick great for going to the beach! i am a professional crocher's so there!

TN7772 years ago
I came up with a a way to weave it to make a yarn for use later.
Fold it in half and braid it. tie the bottom part from step two to tie the weak areas. Tape the tops and bottoms if needed.
Kimmy132 years ago
Great directions :)
pamgotcher4 years ago
Boy, I was just saying to myself as I read the previous step that this is one of the few times I really wished I could see a video - and there it is! Thanks
Saturn V4 years ago
WOW! Five stars!
Saturn V4 years ago
That's pretty cool! I'll have to do this!
mcguinty5 years ago
This would be perfect for nalbinding. It's a cloth making method that requires you to pass the length of thread through each knot and connect more thread as you go. This results in a significantly stronger cloth and is not as hard as it seems. Here are some links on how to do a few of the variations Nalbinding workshop, Viking History:Nalbinding, and Connecting wool thread. I recommend starting with the Oslo stitch video from the second link.
I also use this method to make the mat I park outside my front door!  It looks pretty good when done with the beige bags--kind of like a straw mat.  It has enough texture to remove the debris from your feet before you come into the house, it can be tossed into the washing machine on gentle when it becomes dirty (but DON'T dry it in the dryer!), and when the hot Florida sunshine finally makes it give up the ghost, it is cost-effective and easy to just whip up a new one!  Woo  hoo!
Lyssterine5 years ago
BarginsTech5 years ago
You can also use the "yarn" strips to tie up plants in the garden. You can tie them tight without killing your plants :]
MaggieTCat5 years ago
A group here in New Orleans made plastic yarn blankets for homeless people since they were lightweight and pretty water-proof. I've been looking for the directions since, so thanks! =.=
Cool! Nice instructable! :-) How much weight can the finished bag carry?
We tested it and so far it can carry 70lbs of groceries with minimal stretching. It's super strong! Leigh
How did you fit 70lbs in there? It looks pretty small... Great instructable - I'll have to try it sometime
Wow! That is a LOT of groceries!! Thanks for letting me know! And thanks for the Instructable! :-)
there is another grocery bag pattern available here... http://www.myrecycledbags.com/2007/12/02/recycled-grocery-tote-bag/
Very nice instructions, especially the video.
so has anyone come up with a way to do something similar without crochet? seems alot of us like this but dont know how to crochet
tldudenhoeffer (author)  plzspoilme25 6 years ago
Yes. You can take a box about the size of a Priority mail flat rate box and use it as a box loom and weave the bag. If you decide to weave the bag on a box loom, I'd like to see it.

Here are some links that can help get you started:

Any questions?? Feel free to ask!! Leigh MacD
ah of course.....that would work i'm looking for more of an 'airy' look like the crochet bag, and of course i've done that type of weaving b4 i never get it finished quite right, course having a.d.d. i'm good to get anything finished, at all. i think i'll try the finger weaving method maybe i wont mess it up since the plastic bags will be a wider width. tnx for the advice
Ouchimoo6 years ago
That bag actually looks so great it makes me kind of wish I know how to crochet.
Sullen707 years ago
I was hoping someone would put up this instructable. Thanks! Our church did a humanitarian project last year, collecting bags and cutting them into strips which we then sent to a group in Africa. The women in this group would make the bags and sell them to tourists. They could feed their family for a month with the revenue from selling one bag.
tachu Sullen706 years ago
Do you know where in Africa we can send these to?
OH what a neat idea! What part of Africa? I could share this with my pastor - he's off to Ghana later in the summer. I really don't know the situation there, how many tourists actually visit the areas where his congregations are, other then the ones that might live near the larger cities like Accra ?
katz Sullen707 years ago
This is a great! I have come up with some really cool things made by recycling very common things, like plastic bags or beer caps that people in very poor countries can make without spending money on materials and earn themselves a living (like jewellery etc). But I have not found a way of contacting with someone "on the other side" and interested if you can give me contact details or info on how you found where to send it in Africa. Thanks!
Newblit6 years ago
You should make this into a back pack so you can carry more groceries in it if you ever get a instructable on that I would surely make it.
walkerpedia7 years ago
that's an awesome bag...just wish i knew how to crochet
marsuecom17 years ago
I really like this idea, will have to try it for sure. Have you ever made it with different colored bags? Seems all I ever get are white ones.
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