7 Smart Ways to Reuse Grocery Bags For School

Back to school means it's time ot break out the organization. I've got some ideas for DIY projects with grocery bags that are super smart and frugal. Never throw away a grocery bag again!

Chances are good you still take home groceries in plastic or paper bags but did you know they can be handy for back to school? If you are like our family, we have a whole stash of these bags that we save, as there always seems like a million ways you can reuse them. I try to bring reusable bags, but I still end up with a stack of various paper and plastic bags. When heading back to school, you will find these bags come in handy in all sorts of ways.If you have a stash of paper and plastic bags around your home, now is the time to dig them out or keep them from the trash can.

Did you know that according to the National Resource Defence Council  we dump about twenty million tons of plastic into the ocean annually, with a large portion being plastic grocery bags. Back to school time will give you tons of reasons to give these bags a second life and save them from the trash. Below, you will find seven ways to reuse grocery bags at school and not only save money but save the planet as well. Take a look and see which ideas you might care to try during this back to school season.

Related: Back to School: 5 Upcycled Lunch Box Ideas

7 Ways for Repurposing Grocery Bags for Back to School

1. Pack up smelly gym clothes.
Keep a bag on hand to bring sweaty and stinky gym clothes in. It will protect the rest of your items from the dirty clothes as well as keep some of the smell under control. If your child does swimming at school, a plastic shopping bag will easily keep the moisture off of everything else as well.


2. Pack a lunch.
Plastic grocery bags are perfect for throwing lunch items in when on the go. Just toss your items in, twist, and knot closed. Your food will stay safe and fresh, and you won’t need to buy any store bought baggies.

3. Cover textbooks.
Paper grocery bags can easily be cut and folded onto the covers of textbooks. This will keep them safe and protected throughout the school year as they get tossed in book bags and backpacks. If you are in the position to sell your textbooks back at the end of the year, this will help them retain value as well! You can also make decorative notebooks that you can design yourself!

4. Make flash cards.
Cut the paper grocery bags into squares and you can use them as flash cards. Write math facts, vocabulary words, and anything else you can think of. These cards make the perfect study aids. Just cut, write, and you are done.

5.  Make plastic hair pom poms.
Fancy up your back to school hair for less. Cut plastic grocery bags into strips and tie in the center. Cut and fluff until you have small, white pom pom flowers. Hot glue these onto headbands or hair clips and you have the perfect hair accessory for pennies! For boys, you can make fun little boutonnieres. You can also make party decorations out of these pom poms if you make them a little bigger, check out the DIY video below.

6. Protect art projects.
Stash extra bags in your child’s backpack to bring art projects home in. This is safer than placing them in a backpack or just carrying them as is. Paint, clay, and other mediums will also be kept off of your child’s clothing.

7. Save for science projects.
Plastic and paper grocery bags can come in handy when doing all sorts of science projects. Paper bags protect your surface well and can be balled up to package items safely. Plastic bags can be used in recycling and trash break down experiments as well. Save your bags as science experiments are sure to be part of your child’s curriculum!

Don’t forget, teachers can always use extra bags for their classrooms. Why not consider donating some to your child’s teacher, so he has them on hand during the year too? They will come in handy for trash, storage, crafts, covering books and so much more.

So don’t pitch those paper and plastic grocery bags. Back to school time is when you will need them the most for these tips and anything else you might be able to think of. When it comes to repurposing this school year, you will have it “in the bag.”

Looking for more great back to school repurposing ideas? Check out our tips for finding stylish second-hand clothes!

What frugal ways do you use grocery bags for back to school, or just in general? Tell us in the comments!

17 thoughts on “7 Smart Ways to Reuse Grocery Bags For School”

  1. Plastic bags are also fantastic for wrapping gifts in. It looked better when we had pretty colours like blue and red… it was a more practical “celophane” type effect… you didn’t have to worry about it melting if it got a little wet. These days it is all grey but that is ok too because you can pretty it up with a ribbon or bow.

  2. I just Love your list. Repurposing and Recycling are really big in our house. We even use the left over milk bags and convert them into sandwich bags as well. We also reuse our grocery bags in the summer for putting our wet cloths in after we have finished swimming. My favorite things to do on your list at #5 and #6.

  3. It’s amazing how handy something as simple as a grocery bag can be. I always keep several in my gym bag: one for my clean clothes, one to put my gym clothes in when I change, one for my shower stuff and one for my shower shoes. They’re so convenient and it’s not a big deal to toss them after they’ve served their purpose. They’re also good for in-a-pinch head covers if it starts to rain while a child is walking to or from school. The possibilities are endless!

  4. These are such good ideas and super easy too. We have a ton of old grocery bags that we keep in a drawer…and I’m not even sure why anymore. This, however, gives me some direction as to what I can do with them. Will definitely be trying the hair ties! We have so many, I’m sure I could donate over half to my daughter’s new teacher and still have plenty left over. LOL

  5. In Denmark, we have to pay for our bags. It comes out to about $.50 each. I’m proud to say that after living here for over 5 years, I STILL have not bought a single plastic bag!

    I’d been using canvas bags in the States since before it was cool… waste not, want not.

  6. I always try to re-use our plastics bags when we do get them. We put extras in our suitcases when we travel they come in handy so much. These are great uses of bags, I never would have thought of hair pom-poms

  7. We always use our bags for quite a few of the same purposes you listed – I never thought of covering books with them though, that’s so clever! Would save me so much heartache! Haha! We always get quite a collection of bags and so it’s good to think of more ways to make use of them!

  8. This article speaks to me! :) I use an eco-bag to stuff my gym clothes and accessories. It is very useful and spacious as well. I use another eco-bag for my lunch pack every day. It’s really very convenient to carry.

  9. I always have plastic bags on hand for random things and you are right. Packing smelly clothes is a perfect way to use them. When the kids go on trips, I put their names on the bag and send the lunch in the bag too. And, as a teacher, I agree. We do use them for projects and for kids who might have had a spill in the backpack.

  10. I remember covering my books when I was a child – I carried on doing this with any book that I travelled with – now with ereaders I no longer take a physical book with me

  11. These are all great ideas! We always have so many of these plastic grocery bags piling up in the pantry. I use them as trash bags in my teens’ bathroom.

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