Hack Your Garbage Can to Use Grocery Store Plastic Bags

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About: UX Director, Product Manager, & Metal Sculptor w 3D scanning modeling printing, IoT electronics, SaaS prototyping

tldr; Simply install small 'Command' hooks UPSIDE DOWN to hold the handles of the plastic bags, keeping the bag from falling inside the can!

Step 1: Center Hook Upside-down and Trace Outline With Pencil

  1. Put the hook about 4" from the rim of your can and draw an outline around it.
    (soooo many jokes to be made here...) 4" worked perfectly for mine, but everyone's different. ;)
  2. Use rough sandpaper to scratch up and the area inside the outline you just drew and the underside of the plastic hook.
    This is a technique to ensure the glue has something to 'bite' onto. If you don't have sandpaper, scoring crosshatches with a utility knife also works well.
  3. If you want it to look really pro, I recommend erasing the pencil mark and masking the area with painter's tape.

Why not just use the double-sided mounting tape that comes with 3M Command Hooks?

I did that at first, but then they started falling off after a couple weeks. I recommend a more permanent glue like contact cement, "Shoe Goo", "Goop", or similar. I used contact cement because it dries very quickly.

Step 2: Apply Contact Cement

*** Wear gloves when using contact cement *** The stuff is harder to remove than a tattoo.

  1. Carefully apply contact cement to the outlined area.
  2. Recklessly apply contact cement to the underside of the hook.
  3. Let dry for 10-20 minutes.

Step 3: Press the Two Pieces Together Firmly

When the glue is firm but still 'tacky' - as in, it is still sticky but isn't liquid and doesn't come off onto your finger when touched...

  1. You only get one shot at this, so be careful!
  2. Align the top edge of the hook and the area painted with contact cement and press the two pieces together.

Step 4: Repeat for the Other Side and Test Drive!

  1. Glue a hook to the opposite side and give it a test!
  2. Repeat for any other containers you have around the house to hold recyclables, compost, crying babies, you name it!

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    36 Discussions

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    Myrian1

    2 months ago

    Do I lose cool points for using clothes pins? In my defense, the basket was a metal mesh, not solid plastic....

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    Matthew283

    2 months ago

    The idea is a great practical idea, comes to my mind (being a guy) drill a hole on each side insert S hooks, use duck tape on inside to prevent hooks falling out when not holding bag.

    1 reply
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    EnergyHandymanMatthew283

    Reply 2 months ago

    … Or cut a downward facing V/U in the material the trashcan is made out of, with a box cutter, and then poke it outwards. Same exact outcome, except you’re “living off the land” and not buying/glueing a damn thing.

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    Sarah86

    2 months ago

    Yeah, it's an idea. Probleme is that bag are so thin these days that by the time your home, they have hole in it.

    2 replies
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    EnergyHandymanSarah86

    Reply 2 months ago

    So save your produce/coffee/whatever stickers, the label from your toiletries... and patch those holes in those bags!

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    SemiconductedSarah86

    Reply 2 months ago

    True - for the thin holey bags I use them for the recycling and double them up for the garbage.

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    Sanctus

    2 months ago

    I also do it. BUT, for those complaining about trash bags, why not just toss your trash into the container without a bag and then rinse it? I imagine, all the trash that ends into some recycling centers in the large bags, just adds to plastic pollution. So my suggestion (though I'd need an instructable about a composting or non-smelling litter bin) is to refuse plastic bags if your communal services take out trash in large trash bins. Bag-free!

    1 reply
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    DanC66Sanctus

    Reply 2 months ago

    I really should do this! I've reduced my waste so much that the bin will really start to smell funky with the few food scraps in the bottom of it long before it will ever get full. (It doesn't, that's a hypothetical example for all the literalists reading!)

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    NoBoxEver

    Question 3 months ago on Step 1

    We all know which side of the can the hooks go on (OUTSIDE, right) but somewhere, there is a poor pilgrim who will put them on the inside. Which you can totally do, if you install them right side up. Dontcha think?

    3 more answers
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    DanC66NoBoxEver

    Answer 2 months ago

    Life's too short for putting things in the bin carefully. I was reasonably good at basket ball in highschool so I just throw things at the bin from across the kitchen. I rarely miss. I don't want to have to go back and check nothing went between the bag and the inside of the bin.

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    SemiconductedNoBoxEver

    Answer 2 months ago

    True, but I agree with @davel that if the bags are only held by the handles, the open 'mouth' would most likely 'collapse' in on itself as soon as something with a little heft is dropped in.

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    davelNoBoxEver

    Answer 2 months ago

    It'll work if you put them on the inside, but not as well, because it'll be easier for stuff to get caught in the gap between the plastic bag & the bin.

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    AlanS14billbillt

    Reply 2 months ago

    +1 , but will probably stress crack over time at which point you could use the hook idea (fixed to inside with hook poking outside) as a rescue for the bin.

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    Prof. A. Z. O_Trope

    2 months ago

    You can actually buy small wastebaskets set up to hold plastic grocery bags by the handles, and I have 4 of them. In the kitchen, where I have various kinds of wet trash, I compost what I can, put much of the rest down the garbage disposal, and for the remainder I put some "liner" material in the bottom of my grocery bag to keep leakage to a minimum. Anything that comes in plastic or foil bags, like cereal or chips, provides impermeable bags that I save up to line my grocery bags and minimize leakage.

    I have never "littered" a single plastic grocery bag in my life, and indeed they have provided all the garbage bags I needed for the past few decades at least. I find it annoying that irresponsible turds littering with these bags have caused my community to ban them, and now I have to take extra effort to bring canvas bags to the grocery AND lose access to what had been a useful "free" product. Instead, now I must buy single-use plastic bags simply to dispose of my trash in a sanitary way. Hopefully, there is a special place in hell for these litterbugs, perhaps adjacent to people who drive slow in the left-most lane (in the USA; I presume the Brits have similarly inconsiderate chuckerheads who drive slowly in the right-most lane).

    Of course you can still BUY these handy little bags -- roll of 400 for < 10 cents each:

    https://www.amazon.com/Plastic-T-shirt-Shopping-Me...

    The ones linked above say "Thank You" on them, I wish I could buy a few thousand that say "Thank You, A**holes, for taking away my free bags!" and just release them upwind of City Hall, several hundred a day for a few months. Arrrggghhhh!

    Thank You.jpg
    1 reply

    Agreed! Those little ones that hang over / attach to the back of the door are amazing.

    I installed them in my last 2 apartments and left them for the new tenants.

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    RobPaigeBraindead63

    Reply 2 months ago

    "For crying out loud"

    I see what you did there.

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    kwalletje

    2 months ago

    Nice idea, but like kristen.mckivor we use a large rubber band to hold the bag in place, no need to glue anything.

    However, for those who do want to glue with contact cement: Just apply it generously to the hook (not too generously but a good layer). Then push it onto the surface where you want to put the hook and pull it off again. Wait two or three minutes. Then push it back on. It will never come off...

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    Erin01

    2 months ago

    Great idea but we don't get plastic bags in the shops anymore. We have to take our own bags or buy heavy duty ones, so I now have to buy trash can liners ...