Try This: Old Plastic Bags, New Again

Stylish, simple, eco-friendly projects for your natural home.

| November/December 2007

Each year Americans throw away billions of plastic shopping bags, which can take hundreds—even thousands—of years to break down in a landfill. Put those non-biodegradable properties to good use by turning bags into a hip, indestructible lunch tote. Use an iron to meld layers of plastic bags together into a tough, flexible "fabric" that looks cool, wears long and wipes clean.

1. Gather four to eight plastic shopping bags from your favorite clothing stores (most grocery bags are a little too flimsy for this project). Look for a pleasing mix of colors and graphics.

2. Cut the bags down the side seams with scissors and undo the bottom pleat to make a long rectangle of material.

3. Layer the bags one by one and secure with clothespins to keep them from shifting. Heat iron to medium high. Put a layer of baking parchment or wax paper over your ironing board and on top of the stack of plastic bags. Iron from the center outward, being careful to iron each section thoroughly for 30 to 60 seconds. Let cool, then flip the whole thing over and iron the other side. Let the paper cool until it comes easily off the surface, and check the fabric to ensure it’s fully laminated. If not, iron again.

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