plastic bags, a tool of evil?

Plastic bags are everywhere. Look around you, I'm pretty sure you'd find one within 10 feet from where you are right now.

But do you know that:

I'm not a hardcore environmentalist. I don't believe in getting rid of plastic bags altogether. I know that there's no way we can get rid of plastic bags altogether, especially when you are living in an Asian country. It's so ingrained in our daily lives that we store our food in plastic bags, we carry our food in plastic bags, we dispose wastes from our food in plastic bags. Heck, some of us even play with plastic bags (you can make a damn good parachute for your toy GI Joe with a plastic bag if you know how to).

But there are things that you can really do to help reduce the need for plastic bags. Here's a few that I can think off:

I found this really interesting article on Reader Digest on how else to use your plastic bags.

Plastic Bags - From the book Extraordinary Uses for Ordinary Things These everyday items are useful all-around -- and cost next to nothing!

Around the HouseLine a cracked flower vase
Grandmother's beautiful flower vase is a sight to behold when it's filled with posies. The problem is the vase leaks from a large crack that runs its length. Line the vase with a plastic bag before you fill it with water and add a bouquet, giving fresh life to a treasured heirloom.

Bulk up curtain valances
You've picked out snazzy new curtain balloon valances for your bedroom. The problem is the manufacturer has only sent you enough stuffing to make the valances look a bit better than limp. Recycle some plastic bags by stuffing them in the valances for a resilient pouf.

Stuff crafts or pillows
There are a number of ways to stuff a craft project: with beans, rice, fabric filler, plastic beads, pantyhose, and so on. But have you ever tried stuffing a craft item or throw pillow with plastic bags? There are plenty on hand, so you don't have to worry about running out, and you're recycling.

Make party decorations
Here is an easy way to create streamers for a party using plastic bags. Cut each bag into strips starting from the open end and stopping short of the bottom. Then attach the bag bottom to the ceiling with tape.

Drain bath toys
Don't let Rubber Ducky and all of the rest of your child's bath toys get moldy and create a potential hazard in the tub. Instead, after the bath is done, gather them up in a plastic bag that has been punctured a few times. Hang the bag by its handles on one of the faucets to let the water drain out. Toys are collected in one place, ready for the next time.

Keep kids' mattresses dry
There's no need to buy an expensive mattress guard if bed-wetting is a problem. Instead, line the mattress with plastic garbage bags. Big bags are also useful to protect toilet-training toddlers' car seats or car upholstery for kids coming home from the swimming pool.

Make a laundry pocket pickin's bag
You may think that the laundry's all done, until you open the dryer to find a tissue paper left in someone's pocket has shredded and now is plastered all over the dryer drum. Hang a plastic bag near where you sort laundry. Before you start the wash, go through the pockets and dump any contents in the bag for later sorting.

Treat chapped hands
If your hands are cracked and scaly, try this solution. Rub a thick layer of petroleum jelly on your hands. Place them in a plastic bag. The jelly and your body's warmth will help make your hands supple in about 15 minutes.

For Storing StuffStore extra baby wipes
Shopping at the warehouse grocer, you picked up a jumbo box of baby wipes at a great price. You've got enough wipes to last for several months, as long as they don't dry out before you can use them. To protect your good investment, keep the opened carton of wipes in a plastic bag sealed with a twist tie.

Collect clothes for thrift shop
If you're constantly setting aside clothes to give to charity, but then find them back in your closet or drawers, try this solution: Hang a large garbage bag in your closet. That way, the next time you find something you want to give, you just toss it in the bag. Once it's full, you can take it to the local donation center. Don't forget to hang a new bag in the closet.

Cover clothes for storage
You'd like to protect that seersucker suit for next season. Grab a large, unused garbage bag. Slit a hole in the top and push the hanger through for an instant dustcover.

Store your skirts
If you find you have an overstuffed closet but plenty of room to spare in your dresser, conduct a clothes transfer. Roll up your skirts and place them each in a plastic bag. That will help them stay wrinkle-free until you're ready to wear one.

Keep purses in shape
Ever notice that if you've changed purses and leave an empty one in your closet, it deflates and loses its shape? Fill your purse with plastic bags to retain its original shape.

Tip: Storing Plastic Bags
All those shopping bags are spilling out of the utility drawer in your kitchen. Here are some better ways to store them:

* Stuff them inside an empty tissue box for easy retrieval.

* Poke a bunch down a cardboard tube, such as a paper towel or mailing tube or even a section of a carpet tube.

* Fill a clean, empty gallon (4-liter) plastic jug. Cut a 4-inch (10-centimeter) hole in the bottom. Stuff with bags and hang by its handle on a hook. Pull the bags out of the spout.

* Make a bag "sock." Fold a kitchen towel lengthwise with the wrong side facing out. Stitch the long edges together. Sew 1/2-inch (1.25-centimeter) casings around the top and bottom openings and thread elastic through them, securing the ends. Turn the sock right side out, sew a loop of ribbon or string on the back to hang it up, stuff bags into the top opening, and pull them out from the bottom one.

Keeping Things CleanProtect hand when cleaning toilet
When cleaning your toilets with a long-handled brush or a shorter tool, first wrap your hand in a used plastic bag. You'll be able to do the appropriate scrubbing without your hand getting dirty in the process.

Prevent steel wool from rusting
A few days ago you got a new steel wool pad to clean a dirty pot. Now that steel pad is sitting useless in its own pool of rust. Next time, when you're not using the pad, toss it into a plastic bag where it won't rust and you'll be able to use it again.

Make bibs for kids
The grandkids just popped in, and they're hungry. But you don't have any bibs to protect their clothes while they eat. Make some by tying a plastic bag loosely around the kids' necks so their clothes stay free of stains. You can make quick aprons this way too.

Create a high-chair drop cloth
Baby stores are quite happy to sell you an expensive drop cloth to place under your child's high chair. Why spend the money on a sheet of plastic when you have all those large garbage bags that can do the job? Split the seams of a bag and place it under the high chair to catch all the drips and dribbles. When it gets filthy, take it outside and shake, or just toss it.

Line the litter box
Nobody likes to change the cat's litter box. Make the job quick and easy by lining the box with an open plastic bag before pouring in the litter. Use two bags if you think one is flimsy. When it's time to change the litter, just remove the bags, tie, and throw into the trash.

Needle-free Christmas tree removal
O Christmas tree, how lovely are thy branches! Until those needles start dropping. When it's time to take down your tree, place a large garbage bag over the top and pull down. If it doesn't fit in one bag, use another from the bottom and pull up. You can quickly remove the tree without needles trailing behind you.

Keep polish off your hand
You want to polish up your scruffy white sandals. The problem is, you're going to get more polish on your hands than your shoes. Before you polish, wrap your hand in a plastic bag before inserting it into the sandal. Then when polish runs off the sandal straps, your hand is protected. Leave the bag in the sandal until the polish is dry.

In the KitchenCover a cookbook
You're trying a new recipe from a borrowed cookbook that you don't want to get splattered during your creation. Cover the book with a clear plastic bag. You'll be able to read the directions, while the book stays clean.

Bag the phone
Picture this: You're in the middle of making your famous snickerdoodle cookies. You're up to your elbows in dough. The phone rings. Now what? Wrap your hands in a plastic bag and answer the phone. You won't miss a call or have to clean the phone when you're done.

Scrape dishes
Your extended family of 25 has just finished their Sunday dinner. Time to clean the dishes. Here's an easy way to get rid of the table scraps: Line a bowl with a plastic bag and scrape scraps into it. Once it's full, just gather up the handles and toss. Place the bowl in a prominent place in your kitchen so everyone can scrape their own dishes when bringing them to the sink.

Crush graham crackers
Don't spend hard-earned grocery dollars on a box of pre-crushed graham crackers or a ready-to-fill graham cracker crust. It's much cheaper and a real snap to crush graham crackers yourself. Just crumble several graham crackers into a plastic bag. Lay the bag on the kitchen counter and go over it several times with a rolling pin. In no time, you'll have as many graham cracker crumbs as you need, plus the remainder of a box of crackers to snack on as well.

Replace a mixing bowl
If you're cooking for a crowd and are short on mixing bowls, try using a plastic bag instead. Place all the dry ingredients to be mixed in the bag, gather it up and gently shake. If the ingredients are wet, use your hands to mix.

Spin dry salad greens
The kids will enjoy helping you with this one. Wash lettuce and shake out as much water as you can in the sink. Then place the greens in a plastic grocery bag that has been lined with a paper towel. Grab the handles and spin the bag in large circles in the air. After several whirls, you'll have dry lettuce.

Ripen fruit
Some of the fruit from that bushel of peaches you just bought at the local farm stand are hard as rocks. Place the fruit with a few already ripe pieces or some ripe bananas in a plastic bag. The ripe fruit will help soften the others through the release of their natural gas. But don't leave them for more than a day or two or you'll have purple, moldy peaches.

In the YardProtect plants from frost
When frost threatens your small plants, grab a bunch of plastic bags to protect them. Here's how: Cut a hole in the bottom of each bag. Slip one over each plant and anchor it inside using small rocks. Then pull the bags over the plants, roll them closed, and secure them with clothespins or paper clips. You can open the bags up again if the weather turns warm.

Start poinsettia buds for Xmas
You want that Christmas poinsettia to look gorgeous by the time the holidays arrive. You can speed up Mother Nature by placing the poinsettia in a large, dark garbage bag for several weeks to wake up the plant's buds.

Protect fruit on the tree
Are there some apples in your orchard you want to protect or some plums that need a little more time on the tree? Slip the fruit into clear plastic bags while still on the trees. You'll keep out critters while the fruit continues to ripen.

Protect your shoes from mud
It rained hard last night, and you need to get out in the garden to do your regular weeding. But you're worried about getting mud all over your shoes. Cover them in plastic bags. The mud gets on the bag, not on the shoes, and your feet stay dry so you can stay out longer in the garden.

Clean a grill easily
That neighborhood barbecue was a blast, but your grill is a sorry mess now. Take the racks off and place them in a garbage bag. Spray oven cleaner on the grill and close up the bag. The next day, open the bag, making sure to keep your face away from the fumes. All that burned-on gunk should wipe right off.
Cover garage-sale signs
If you've gone to the trouble of advertising your upcoming garage sale with yard signs but worry that rain may hurt your publicity campaign before even the early birds show up, protect the signs by covering them with pieces cut from clear plastic bags. Passersby can still see the lettering, which will be protected from smearing by the rain.

Store outdoor equipment manuals
Your weed-whacker spindle just gave out and you have to replace it. But how? Stash all your outdoor equipment's warranties and owner's manuals in a plastic bag and hang it in your garage. You'll know exactly where to look for help.

Protect your car mirrors
A big snowstorm is due tonight, and you've got a doctor's appointment in the morning. Get a step ahead by covering your car's side mirrors with plastic bags before the storm starts. When you're cleaning off the car the next morning, just remove the bag. No ice to scrape off.

Make a jump rope
"I'm bored!" cries your child as you're trying to finish your yard work. Here's a simple solution: Make a jump rope by twisting up several plastic bags and tying them together end to end. Talk about cheap fun.

On the GoPack your shoes
Your next cruise requires shoes for all types of occasions, but you worry that packing them in the suitcase will get everything else dirty. Wrap each pair in its own plastic bag. It will keep the dirt off the clothes, and you can rest assured you've packed complete pairs.

Protect your hands when pumping gas
You've stopped at the gas station for a fill-up while on your way to meet friends for lunch. The last thing you want is to greet them with hands that smell of gasoline. Grab one of those plastic bags you keep in your car and cover your hands with it while you pump.

Stash your wet umbrella
When you're out in the rain and running to your next appointment, who wants to deal with a soggy umbrella dripping all over your clothes and car? One of those plastic bags that newspapers are delivered in is the perfect size to cover your umbrella the next time it rains. Just fold the umbrella up and slip it into the bag.

Make an instant poncho
Leave a large garbage bag in your car. The next time it rains unexpectedly, cut some arm slits and one for your head. Slip on your impromptu poncho and keep dry.

Scoot in the snow
Your neighborhood just got 6 inches (15 centimeters) of snow and the kids are hoping to take advantage of it right now. Grab some garbage bags, tie one around one each of their waists, and let them fanny-slide down the hills.

For the Do-It-YourselferCover ceiling fans
You're painting the sun porch ceiling, and you don't want to remove the ceiling fans for the process. Cover the blades with plastic bags to protect them from paint splatters. Use masking tape to keep the bags shut.

Store paintbrushes
You're halfway through painting the living room, and it's time to break for lunch. No need to clean the paintbrush. Just stick it in a plastic bag and it will remain wet and ready to use when you return. Going to finish next weekend, you say? Stick the bag-covered brush in the freezer. Defrost next Saturday and you are ready to go.

Contain paint overspray
If you've got a few small items to spray-paint, use a plastic bag to control the overspray. Just place one item at a time in the bag, spray-paint, and remove to a spread-out newspaper to dry. When you're done, toss the bag for a easy cleanup.

Do what you will with this information.

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