How to Reuse and Recycle Bread Bags in Practical and Creative Ways
Baking your own bread is not something we all have time to do. It’s not that big of a deal, except the fact that buying your bread – whether in bun or loaf form – from bakeries or supermarkets leaves you with a mass of leftover bread bags. For the ones trying to live green, this is a nightmare, given that bread bags often wind up in landfills. As any other plastic item, they will then take hundreds – even thousands – of years to degrade.
In the meantime, they contaminate our soil and pollute our waters. What can we do? The obvious solution is to reuse and recycle bread bags, not throw them in the trash. And thankfully, there are hundreds of ways you can reuse bread bags before you send them to the recycling center. Below we have provided a list of 10 of the easiest ways to make the most of your leftover bread bags.
The Damage of Plastic Waste
Plastic is literally everywhere and we interact with it every day. Whether we’re aware of this or not does not change the fact that we’re responsible for the carbon footprint we leave behind. We use plastic bottles, type on plastic keyboards, and buy plastic toys for our kids. Plastic is an epidemic.
Where does all the plastic go after we use it? Some of it gets shipped overseas to recycle centers. Quite a bit more, however, ends up in landfills across the nation. And more than any of us can imagine becomes plastic waste, which makes its way into our waterways. Here are some striking facts about plastic pollution.
- In the Los Angeles area alone, approximately 10 metric tons of plastic fragments—like bread bags, grocery wrapping and soda bottles—end up in the Pacific Ocean daily.
- More than 50 percent of the plastic we use, we use just once and then throw away (no recycling).
- Enough plastic covers landfills and oceans each year to circle the Earth four times.
- The current recycling programs recover only five percent of all the plastics we produce.
- Plastic rises to about 10 percent of the total waste generated by man.
- According to Brita, Americans throw away around 35 billion plastic water bottles every year.
- Given enough time, plastic in the ocean can break down into such small segments that pieces of one plastic bottle could end up on every mile of beach around the world.
Plastic Pollution and Its Effects
- We use around 500 billion plastic bags worldwide each year. For perspective, over 1 million bags are used every minute.
- Plastic takes between 500 and 1,000 years to degrade completely.
- So much plastic ends up in swirling convergences in the oceans that it now makes up about 40 percent of the world’s ocean surfaces. Unsurprisingly, more than 80 percent of ocean pollution enters from the land.
- The largest ocean garbage site is called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and it’s located in the North Pacific Gyre off the coast of California. It’s a floating mass of plastic that has surpassed twice the size of the Texas state.
- Plastic in our oceans kills 1 million sea birds and 100,000 marine mammals each year.
- Shockingly, every piece of plastic that was ever produced still exists on this planet in some shape or form. The only exception is a small amount of plastic that has been incinerated.
- Our bodies can absorb plastic chemicals; 93 percent of Americans age six or older test positive for BPA. Meanwhile, some of these plastic compounds have been found to alter hormones or have other effect on human health.
How to Reuse Bread Bags
Now that you know how much plastic ends up wasted, you might be more inclined to do something – anything – to keep it from ending up in landfills and oceans. Here are some easy ways that could help you reduce the waste exiting your household.
1. Use them to take your lunch or snack to work. Just tie off at the top to keep your food fresh and protected. And even it gets better. Whenever you’re going on a picnic, make your sandwiches and stack them back inside a bread bag. No more need of sandwich bags.
2. Why would you buy special piping bags from the supermarket when you already have perfectly good bread bags at home? If you have already bought the nozzles and the tips, decorating a cookie, cake, or gingerbread house is as easy as filling a bread bag with frosting or icing. Make sure you clean it first, and then simply roll down the top to form a triangle. Twist and snip the tip – who needs plastic zip bags?
3. Carsickness is terrible for everyone involved. Make it a habit to carry a spare bread bag in the glove compartment. It will make all the difference for the ill passenger or driver, not to mention the relief for the car owner.
4. If you need to grease a baking pan, a bread bag can help you do that. Simply flip it inside out to use it as a glove. After you wiped the pan, just roll it down and throw it away. You could put it in the recycling bin, but only after you’ve washed it, which seems counter-intuitive given the water waste.
More Uses for Bread Bags
5. Some plants thrive most with slow watering. Fill up a bag with water, tie a knot at the top and poke holes with a safety pin. Voila! Your bread bag can now water your plants on its own.
6. Empty water bottles or crumpled papers aren’t safe on the floor of your car; they could easily roll under your brake pedal and lodge there. Instead, use a bread bag as a garbage collector in your car. As long as you put only dry garbage in, you can empty the bag and re-use over and over again.
7. At the same time, keeping bread bags in your car will help you remember to take them into the store so you don’t buy other plastic bags for your produce.
8. Instead of bubble wrap or Styrofoam peanuts, blow up a bread bag like a balloon and tie the end for a homemade pillow pack. What an easy way to keep your fragile items safe during shipment!
9. Put bread bags over your feet before you putting on snow or rain boots. Not only do they keep your feet dry, but the boots will also come off easier.
10. Bread bags are also super easy to use for seasoning or breading foods. Put the seasoned flour or the breadcrumbs into a bread bag and add the veggies or meat. Shake well and then bake or fry.