Thursday, July 05, 2007

What To Do With Plastic Grocery Bags

Of course we all know about using plastic grocery bags (PGBs) to line small trash cans around the house, so that emptying the bathroom trash becomes child's play -- or child's chore, if you've got a kid needing a chore (which is somewhat redundant). But there are many other uses:
  • Laundry bag - for smelly or damp articles such as gym clothes, as long as you don't leave them there long enough to mildew, which is about six hours, depending on dampness. If you have a watertight bag, consider rinsing your clothes in the shower, and storing them in the bag soapy and wet (for a few hours).
  • Camping in wet or snowy weather, spare socks will stay dry in the bag, and the wet pair can be stored in the same bag (use two bags if you have more than two pairs).
  • Boot liner - if you don't have good boots, put a pair of grocery bags (or bread bags) over your socks. You will be amazed at how much warmer your feet stay. A drawback is that they tend to sweat.
  • Dog raincoat - If you have a stupid little dog that doesn't like cold or wet weather, rip a corner of a bag and stick the dog's head through. Pull its front paws through one handle. It may be necessary to make a hole in the bag for the tail and hind legs, depending on the breed. Pull its back paws and tail through the other hole or handle, tying the handles under the belly. Be sure to leave room at the back for the place of business, should any deposits need to be made.
  • Japanese Beetle trap refill -- see instructions
  • Paint can cover - before opening a can of paint, poke or cut a hole bigger than the size of your brush, but smaller than the opening of your can, in a PGB. Open the can, put the bag over the top, and poke the edges of the hole you cut around inside and under the lip of the can. Used with a brush, you will keep the paint out of the rim. With practice and care, you can even pour the paint without getting any under the bag and into the rim of the can. When finished or taking a break, use up any excess around the rim and put the top back on the can, with the bag still in place. It will seal more easily and also open more easily. Take care not to rip the bag with your can opener, but drying paint will seal small tears.
  • Paint tray liner and brush cover - (at least for latex paint) turn a PGB inside out (to avoid smearing the label) and cover over a paint tray. Wrap the handles around the feet of the tray at the higher end. Pour the paint onto the bag, in the tray, and use with a brush, pad, or roller. It feels a little awkward and messy at first when used with a roller, but it works just fine. The best part: between coats, or if you need to take a break, use up the excess paint and put the wet roller or brush in the painty part. Take the bag off the tray, turning it right side out, and wrap the bag around the handle of your brush or roller. It will keep even overnight if wrapped reasonably. For longer storage, seal with a twist-tie and put it in the freezer, where it will last at least a week, and probably a lot longer. When you're done, discard the bag, or even use the bag for a trash can liner for that "new house" smell.
  • Icing bag - put some icing in a PGB and poke a hole in one corner. Squeeze out a bead of icing. It's not Cordon Bleu, or even Betty Crocker, but you can write "Happy Birthday" on a cake.
  • Mortar/grout bag - use the same technique as for an icing bag ... but be sure to use a different bag.
  • Furniture leg cover - I guess people still shampoo carpets. If you have furniture in the room, cover the legs with PGBs to keep the water and detergents from marring the finish.
  • Doggie Do recovery device - I guess city folk have to pick up after their dogs (out in the sticks we use a sand rake and tray to gather it up to put in the compost). When walking the dog, use a PGB as a glove, picking up Fido's deposit off the sidewalk. Twist the bag to seal in the freshness, and continue. You can several bags for the same walk, or if bags are scarce, our Supertwist technology will allow multiple deposits to be recovered into the same bag.

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