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Video:How to Make a Reusable Grocery Bag

with Julie Edmonds

By using the same grocery bag over and over again, you can reduce waste and help the environment. See how to make a green, reusable grocery bag from discarded plastic baggies.See Transcript

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Transcript:How to Make a Reusable Grocery Bag

Hey everybody. This is Julie Edmonds for About.com. I use reusable bags as much as possible, but I find I am still swimming in plastic bags. These plastic bags biodegrade very slowly and many end up in landfills or floating garbage islands in the sea. One of the best ways I have found to get around having to throw them out is to make them into reusable bags to use or to give to friends.

What You'll Need

You'll need just a handful of things to make this project happen:
  • 7 or more plastic grocery bags
  • A roll of parchment paper
  • An iron
  • Scissors

Safety Tip

First things first, we are going to fusing plastic; if done right it does not make much in the way of fumes but as there is a possibility for some nasty smells it is best to do this project in a ventilated area with the windows open.

Prepare Your Plastic Bags

There are 3 major steps to making this bag: fusing the plastic material, forming the bag and trimming the bag.

First let's make the plastic material that the bag will be made out of. Take all of your bags and cut off the handles and bottom. Then cut through the loop so that each bag is a single long sheet.

Fuse Plastic Bags With Iron

Now take 3 layers and lay them flat between 2 pieces of parchment paper. You can use more then 3 layers of plastic bags but not more then 6. Once you have the parchment paper laid out. Set your iron to the rayon setting.

When the iron is ready start ironing the parchment. Make sure to keep the iron moving or you will melt right through the plastic. Don’t worry about getting the edges we can clean them up later. After 2 min of constant movement flip the sheet and iron the other side for 2 min.

Form a Seam Between Two Sheets

After you have made one sheet, make another. Once you have both sheets fused you are going to make your first fused seam. Put both sheets side by side like this and fold the 2 unfinished edges together. Making sure this fold stays in place, put parchment paper on either side of the big sheet.

Next iron the seam for a minute or two, then flip it and iron the seam on the other side. Now peel back the parchment paper and let it cool for a moment before you check the seam. If it looks good you are ready to form the bag.

Form the Bag

To form the bag fold your fused sheet so that the one seam is perpendicular to the fold- like this. This fold is the strongest place in the bag and will be the bottom of it. With the bag folded place the semi-bag back in between the parchment paper and fuse the 2 side edges of the bag like this. You are going to want to make this seam 2 or 3 inches wide. Once it has cooled take the scissors and you can trim the edges so that they are straight. Be sure to leave at least an inch of the seam so it has strength.

Making the Top Opening of the Bag

For the top opening of the bag, cut a piece of parchment paper that is the size of the opening and slide it into it like this. Now take the top end with the parchment in the middle and put it in between the larger parchment papers and fuse the top edges making sure to only iron where the middle piece of parchment is-- otherwise you will fuse the middle of the bag. When that is done flip it and do the other side.

Attach Handles to Bag

Great, now we are ready to put the handles on. Take what you have and turn it inside out. You should have one more sheet of plastic. Cut this in half widthwise like this. Take both pieces and fold them over twice so that there are 4 layers. Fuse each of these and you will have your handles. Put the piece of parchment back into the middle of the bag at the top and finish fusing the top. Once this is done use the scissors to clean up the top edge.

Lastly, while leaving the parchment paper in the middle fuse each handle on the outside of the bag like this. Now you have a strong and reusable bag.

With just a few tools and the plastic bags that you would have otherwise thrown out, you can make a great sustainable bag for yourself or a friend. This project will continue to keep plastic bags out of the landfill.

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