Organizing Plastic/Paper Bags

christinenyMarch 5, 2007

My garage is an absolute mess in such need of organization. I really need to start by finding a good way to store plastic bags/paper bags from the grocery store plus bags from department stores. Currently they are just thrown in one large pile in one area of my garage. I do use them or recycle them around the house (emptying garbage cans, taking out newspapers, picking up weeds etc). I just need a clever way to store them. Anyone have any ideas? I would love to finally begin cleaning and organizing my garage. Thanks.

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I used to have a bag problem as well. I purchased a cute plastic bag holder that's hanging from a hook near the kitchen. I now only keep as many bags as will fit in this holder and throw out any bags that won't fit in there. I've never run out of plastic bags since I started to use this method. I don't get that many paper bags from the supermarket but those that I do get, I keep in the car for my trips to Costco.

I also keep store bags which is my obsession. I just keep all of them in the largest bag and will use them as needed because of their odd sizes.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2007 at 8:47PM
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Mine isn't cute, but I grab a larger sized bag (like department store) and just put all of the grocery store bags inside of it and they hang on the edge of a shelf. It seems to hold a ton. It's handy just to reach in and grab one when needed. I actually do this in both the garage and the kitchen. When my kitchen stash gets too full, it's my signal to run them by a friend who uses them in her shop. I keep most of the larger bags folded up in the laundry room-just sitting on shelf. That's were I collect the stuff for the thrift store pickups.

Just having them contained seems to be the answer, as well as knowing how many you really need and getting rid of the rest. We realistically use about half the bags I bring in the house.


    Bookmark   March 6, 2007 at 2:49AM
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I take most of the plastic bags back to the grocery store and recycle there. For those I keep at home, I have a plastic garbage can and use it for storage.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2007 at 6:00AM
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Libraries can always use them. That's my main outlet for those I don't use at home.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2007 at 7:35AM
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I do what Quiltglo does--I just use a larger plastic bag and hang it on a hook, and if it's full, I toss any other plastic bags.

I occasionally contemplate having one for ordinary bags and one for slightly larger, but it never seems like it's worth the book.

Once, I had a big party and some of the guests brought contributions of food and drink. One couple took their chips and dip out of the plastic bag they'd carried it on the subway in, and asked chirpily, "where do you keep your plastic bags?" Oh, right here in the garbage can, I answered.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2007 at 9:19AM
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I have a bag holder from ikea - a plastic thing that can be mounted on a wall or cabinet although ours is freestanding at the moment. It's a bit bigger than the cloth holders I've seen.

I won't keep more than will fit in the holder. We use them for cleaning cat boxes as well as trash bags, etc., but we've never come close to running out. It's gotten to the point where I've actually gotten kind of picky about the bags I keep! One grocery store seems to have very small plastic bags - we dont' keep those anymore. Any tiny hole or tear, we don't keep it.

I never have more than 3 or 4 paper bags and those live between the fridge and the cabinet.

My MIL keeps every bag that comes her way - most are loose in the basement. Bugs seem to love the plastic ones almost as much as the paper ones. yuck. It also bothers me that if you need a bag, you have to go through several before you find one that's not got a hole in it or isn't fragile from old age!

    Bookmark   March 7, 2007 at 1:22PM
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I keep plastic bags in a single sterilite drawer under the sink. Then I have bowls I frequently use sitting on top of the drawer.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2007 at 3:22PM
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I do recycle most of my plastic bags because we get SO MANY! (It kills me when they put one item in a bag. For one item why bother?) But I do keep some, I use them to bring my lunch to work (tupperware container + fruit).

Anyway, I use old kleenex boxes. Just stuff the plastic bags into the kleenex box and they're handy to pull out when needed. You can stuff quite a few in. And if the box gets ragged or torn, simply replace it. This works well with Kleenex brand, they have the slit opening in the top of the box.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2007 at 5:33PM
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If my understanding is correct, some bags are being made from cornstarch. That may be contributing to the bug situation.

I really need to either make or purchase some shopping bags. I'm always harping about not making so much waste, yet I still bring home tons of these critters.


    Bookmark   March 7, 2007 at 5:54PM
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I store my plastic bags folded the Japanese way, folded and then placed into a empty Kleenex tissue box.

With them folded nicely and tucked in, it is surprising how many you can fit in the box! I keep all the bags i get (good ones without holes etc) and seem to be constantly running out of supply.

Guess that is one of the things with using (when I remember) the green enviro friendly reusable bags for groceries! Sometimes i wonder if it makes sense using enviro green bags then having to purchase plastic bin liners, when one could use the plastic bag the grocerys come home in!

Seems a bit odd to me when I carry home my new roll of plastic bin liners in my green enviro bag! lol :) Kind of defeats the purpose doesn't it :)

    Bookmark   March 8, 2007 at 3:23PM
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swmbo -

"folded the Japanese way"?? Explain please! Inquiring minds want to know more.

Love the Kleenex box idea. Might stuff some into boxes where I need to have a few handy (like under the bathroom sink to line the garbage cans there)

    Bookmark   March 8, 2007 at 4:31PM
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Thank you everyone for all your great suggestions. You have been so helpful. I found a plastic bag holder online at the container store that may work. I will hopefully be at that store next weekend and will check it out. I may try and mount it to the wall in the garage.

I didn't know that libraries will take your bags. I will call mine to see if they take them. Thanks again for such great suggestions.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2007 at 6:56PM
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Hi Jenathegreat,

Oops, should have explained myself when I made reference to the japanese way of folding bags.

I love the concept of it, its quick, easy & neat :), the kids get in and fold the bags while i stack grocerys away. They end up looking like a really tidy small triangle :)

Japanese people flatten out the plastic grocery bag to get the air out and then fold it in half length-wise and again in half length-wise. Then starting at the closed end, they fold one corner down to the opposite side so that you have a sort of paper-football shape, or half diamond. Now fold this down and again and again. You end up with the shape of a small triangle.

Finally you can tuck the remaining edge under one of the folded edges to keep the little flag-shaped package closed. Using this method, you can store dozens of bags in a small space, put one in your pocket, whatever.

Hope this helps,
swmbo :-]

    Bookmark   March 8, 2007 at 11:12PM
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As a spin-off from the Kleenex box, a friend uses the hard plastic decorative covers for the tissue boxes, attaches it to the inside wall of a cabinet. Looks nice and up out of the way!

    Bookmark   March 9, 2007 at 11:21AM
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I love this idea especially for bathrooms. Since I don't have any empty tissue boxes around I am tempted to empty one right now just so I can try it! Thanks.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2007 at 4:03PM
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We can't use empty tissue containers around here. Those little 4" tubes wouldn't hold but a couple of bags, even folded neatly LOL.

Some other places with might need bags. Our library takes them also. Our grocery stores have recycling bins at the front doors. Our local recycling center will take them. Our local animal shelter uses them for cleaning out their cat litter box and cleaning up after the dogs. You can check and see if charity gifts shops could use them. Some of ours will and some won't.

They make really good packing material for cushioning breakable stuff. You could post them on Freecycle and suggest they would be good if someone is moving. Or close to the holidays when people ship items. My mom and I sent the same bags back and forth for several years in our shipping boxes.

And when I'm tired of the kids, I give them each a bag and tell them to scour the neighborhood for trash. We weigh it on our postal scale and I pay them a dime an ounce.


    Bookmark   March 10, 2007 at 2:27AM
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I like to use the bags to stuff inside my purses when I store them. A purse will hold quite a few and you can stuff easily in the odd sized purses and for extra firmness if needed.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2007 at 10:12AM
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I don't get many anymore. I carry canvas bags. But DH won't take them when he goes to the store.

You can return the library books in them, and add some extras. The library uses them when they have a customer with a lot of books. Just put them in the book return. :)

Also a great place to use for books you no longer want. The library has a used book sale, and can sell your books.


    Bookmark   March 11, 2007 at 8:36PM
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Lena M

We keep a canvas bag hanging over the passenger's seat headrest (facing the backseat) in the car, and stow extra bags in that. We've built up a collection of canvas bags over the years, and try to keep in the habit of using those. (Nice canvas bags make good gifts!).

If you find it necessary to throw plastic bags away, our garbage collectors suggest you tie them in a knot first, so they are less likely to blow around the land fill.

[Cool idea on 'Japanese folding' SWMBO.]


Here is a link that might be useful: Canvas Totes at Lands' End

    Bookmark   March 13, 2007 at 11:56PM
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I've never been so excited to get my hands on an empty kleenex box! Let the stuffing begin. I think I'll have to label this or put some decorative paper on it so DH knows not to pitch it! Ah, the simple pleasures.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2007 at 9:40AM
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swmbo -

Aha! The Japanese folding way is like making a little paper football like we used to do in elementary school - I know that technique!

I don't think I have the patience or need to fold most of my bags that way, but I did fold some like that this morning when I got to work. I keep 2 or 3 bags in my desk and the folded way is much tidier when they aren't stored in anything. Thanks!

    Bookmark   March 14, 2007 at 5:00PM
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jenathegreat -

i must admit it took me a few times of folding the weeks grocery shopping plastic bags to get into the swing of folding them, & can do it quite quickly now. While I was retraining myself, i wondered, 'is this worth it!!!' Now it is just 2nd nature to do them that way :)

Appreciate the conversation on this forum, and have found many useful tips/ideas.

Thanks everyone :)

    Bookmark   March 16, 2007 at 3:14AM
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