Monday, August 1, 2016

How to Sew Your Own Reusable Bags {Partner Post} to Reduce Plastic Waste

Throughout July (and sneaking into August today) our partner blog Creativity Unmasked has been sharing how to sew your own reusable bags as part of reducing plastic and general waste around the home.  In addition to a DIY guest post at Dalmatian DIY on how to make drawstring treat bags, there are how-to posts with instructions (and incremental photos) for how to make a basic reversible tote bag, an insulated grocery bag, a heavy-duty walkabout tote bag with internal pockets, and see-through mesh produce bags. The DIYs require a sewing machine (or LOTS of hand sewing) but you don't need to be a sewing whiz (I'm not!) to make any of these bags:

Simple Reversible Tote Bag

Insulated Grocery Bag

Heavy-Duty Shopping Tote

Mesh Produce Bags

Around here, "I have my own bag" is usually met with surprise at the shops, but I've gotten used to it! Sometimes people are a little curious, but it's generally positive. My favourite moment this far was when a shop clerk complemented me on my bag (the heavy-duty walkabout tote bag with internal pockets) and was really surprised/excited when I replied that I had made it myself. :) A brave moment as I'm bad with self-promotion and typically wouldn't have shared that it was my own work. She was so complimentary checking it all over and oooh at the pockets and the spare tote tucked inside for extra shopping. She wanted to know if I sold them (hahahaha...) and suggested I should think about it. I'm happy just sharing how-tos, but my confidence grew three sizes that day.  Thanks nice shop lady! 

We haven't eliminated plastic bags all-together.  I still use them for collecting trash along the beach and messy clean-ups.  Our council requires plastic rubbish bags, so they'll be in our routine no matter what but I have definitely cut back significantly.  I also have yet to find a suitable alternative for plastic when it comes to packaging up my homemade dog breakfasts, which are bulk prepared around 5 weeks worth at a time.  I use skimpy bags for each breakfast (two dogs worth in each) and big sturdy reuable containers to corral them in the freezer. Ideas welcome! I'm far too space constrained for individual containers (in-fridge freezer only) and can get so much more efficiency in the bulk prep (was less waste packaging, energy use, time) that I'm ok with the current compromise.

If you want to reduce your own plastic and are comfortable with trying some sewing, I definitely recommend giving DIY a try - very cost effective and easy to customise.  If it seems too difficult or sewing is simply not in your interests, you can buy plenty of different pre-fab bags.  Even just one for general shopping can make a big difference in your plastics. Local shops, handmade markets and Etsy shops, green suppliers or big online retailers will all have different options depending on your location and personal preferences. Look for something sturdy and washable (especially important if you plan to use it for edibles).  Here are a few pre-fab ideas from Amazon:

Small changes matter, so even if you still use plastic during your main grocery shopping trips but have reusable bag or two that you use market shopping, running errands, strolling the high street, at the mall etc. then you are still making a difference.  If you're like me, you'll soon start to feel guilty when you forget your bag. :) Even worse, when you remember you bag but run out of space! I really like the ease of rolling up a basic tote as carrying the extra in my heavy-duty bag when I'm out and about just in case. Slowly but surely new habits take hold, and it all adds up. If you have a tip for making the transition or a favourite way to reduce plastic, I'd love it hear from you!  Please leave a comment (relevant live links also welcome) or post us a message on the GiRL Facebook page.  If you just wrapped up (no pun intended heheh...) Plastic Free July (awesome effort!) I'd love to know how you went as well. :)

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