Get creative – 25 ways to reuse brown paper bags!
Last year, my home state of Delaware passed a law to ban plastic shopping bags by January of 2021.
You know I’m all for this! And a few stores have already begun making changes.
My local Dollar Tree locations have been using paper bags for a few years. And Trader Joes always has them available when I forget my canvas bags.
So at this point, I have a pretty good collection. I just can’t throw them away!
But they’re starting to take over the corner of my craft closet where I’ve been keeping them.
I started thinking about some ways to upcycle them creatively.
Here is my list of 25 ways to reuse brown paper bags!
Back to school season always meant homemade brown paper book covers when I was in elementary school. And for good reason. They lasted for months, and they’re totally customizable!
We haven’t started composting in my house yet, but according to OrganicLesson.com, brown paper bags can be torn into small pieces and composted.
Zero waste gift wrap
Just like brown kraft paper, flattened bags wrap gift boxes for any occasion. For more green gift wrap ideas, check out this recent post.
Wedge bunched brown paper bags around fragile and breakable items to ship and store them safely.
This tip has been around for years, but it’s a good one! Storing unripe fruit in brown paper bags traps the ethylene that it makes. This gas will help your fruit ripen quicker.
Make gift tags
Paper bags can easily be cut in any shape and turned into custom gift tags.
Toss your old magazines, newspapers, and junk mail right into a brown paper bag. The entire parcel can then be recycled. Easy peasy!
We only have 2 big maple trees in our yard, but just those alone leave us with a dozen bags of leaves this year after raking. It will be nice to not have to fill up plastic bags this year and use some paper bags instead.
Wrap boxes for postage
Did you know you can reuse any cardboard box as a shipping container? Simply cover those Amazon or Target logos with a brown paper wrapping, add your addresses and postage, and you’re good to go!
I’m sure everyone has made these paper bag hand puppets at one point in their lives. Get as creative as you want with this: yarn hair, fabric scrap clothing… Puppets are a great way to clean out your craft supply stash. This idea would work better with smaller paper bags or lunch sacks.
Large grocery bags are the perfect size for making DIY masks. Take your pick – silly or scary – but don’t forget the eye holes!
I love creating my own little baskets to hold tiny collections around my house, but I’ve only been making them from fabric. (Stay tuned for that tutorial coming soon!) Check out this post on instructables.com featuring directions for 5 different types of paper baskets!
Punch small holes or cut out a design out on a small paper bag. Pop in a battery-operated candle and line your walkway for safe way to light up your winter nights.
Cut large paper bags into rectangles that measure 12″ by 18″. Decorate with any design you can imagine. These would be a perfect Thanksgiving project for children!
Probably the most basic way to reuse your paper bags. Just cut them into small rectangles for a place to jot down all your notes.
Paper bag roses
These roses get a big “wow”, but they only take minutes to make. Cut 6″ circles from a brown paper bag. Starting on one side, cut a continuous spiral into the center. Then, beginning in the outside of the swirl, roll the spiral around tightly and glue the end to secure. I like to add a little ink to the edges for an extra pop.
Who knew paper bags could be so pretty?
Make a book
Similar to the DIY scrap paper, cut equal size pieces of paper from your bags and stack them together. Bind them by punching holes on one edge and running some twine or yarn through.
Paper bag wreath
Long strips of paper can be rolled into thin ropes and wrapped around wreath forms. Add a few paper bag roses, and you’ve got a farmhouse-inspired, upcycled door hanging!
Craft table protection
Spread a bag or two under your crafty projects to keep all your spray paint, glitter, and hot glue off your table.
Trick or treat bags
Those large paper bags usually have sturdy handles. Perfect for a big candy haul!
My children have been asking me to make kites for the last few years. I’ll have to set aside a couple of my bags so we can design our own.
I used to make these when I was a kid with construction paper, but I love the idea of plain brown paper too. Simply cut the bags into inch wide strips and staple them together in connected rings. They would look so pretty as an easy, rustic holiday decor.
This tutorial from The Oregon Cottage has been floating around the internet for a while, but I think it’s pretty cool. I don’t know if I would have the guts to do it anywhere other than maybe a craft room, though.
A quick Google or Pinterest search can help you find the exact measurements for envelopes of any size.
Prop up boots
Roll-up paper bags and stand them inside your slouchy boots for a quick and free way to keep them in shape.
That’s it for my list of 25 ways to reuse brown paper bags!
Do you have loads of paper bags hanging around your house?
How do you plan on using them?