How to Ditch Single-Use Plastic Bags Forever


Photo: Fred Dufour (Getty Images)

On March 1, New York will join states like California in the fight against plastic bags by banning most carryout plastic bags from grocery stores and other retailers.

And while it’s a major step toward curbing the overall use of the dreaded single-use plastic bag, some environmentalists argue that loopholes exist which will inevitably allow for their continued use. (One such stipulation allows for continued use of certain plastic bags by retailers if they’re 10 mils or thicker, a standard by which New York lawmakers deemed some bags “reusable.”)

Curious how you can curb your use of plastic bags, recycle them appropriately, and general alternatives while the fight against plastic rages on? Below, Lifehacker’s advice from over the years, so you can ditch plastic bags forever.

How to recycle single-use plastic bags

While you (typically) can’t leave them in your blue bin as part of your curbside recycling program, plastic bags are, in fact, recyclable. All it takes is a visit to your local pharmacy, drug or electronic store with a plastic bag drop-off container.

Use those pesky bags to store fragile items

In the process of moving? Plastic bags are a simple solution when you need a little extra cushioning for fragile objects.

How to choose the right reusable bag

Remember: You should always buy the bag 1) you’ll remember to take everywhere and 2) you actually like. Be sure to clean it once in a while, too.

Photo: Fiona Goodall (Getty Images)

How to make your own reusable bag

If you’re willing to put in a little time and effort, you can make a durable reusable bag out of an empty rice bag, using a pair of scissors, a needle, and some thread.

Donate or regift your worst reusable bags

In an effort to become more green, somehow, you’ve assembled an extensive collection of reusable bags—which defeats their purpose. In case you need to cut down on reusable bags, we have a few recommendations.

How to zero-waste shop

Hoping to take it a step further and rid yourself of most grocery store shopping waste? Try shopping in bulk and using your own containers whenever possible. (And here’s our other guide on how to use less disposable plastic in your everyday life, too.)