Plastic grocery bags have a number of properties that make them ideal for a variety of reuses. They’re free and disposable. They’re strong, and more or less waterproof. They collapse small enough to fit into a side compartment in my pocketbook, or in my back pocket. When I use multiple bags for storage, the bag collapses down to accommodate the bag contents with no air space, making them space efficient. They have loop handles that are easy to tie. Loops can also be used to hang the bag from a nail. Here are a few ideas.

1. Sock-box sorter. I keep all unmatched socks that come through the laundry in one box. To save time finding matches, I have grouped the socks by type (white athletic, colored etc.) and keep them in individual bags. This helps me find matches quicker.

2. Short-term freezer bags. Because grocery bags sometimes have small holes in the bottom, I used them to store food for a month or less. Usually this will be surplus pies I want to freeze. I bag them and twist-tie the bag to one side, then I repeat with a second bag, with the twist-tie on the opposite side, thus making a more air-tight storage.

3. Snack carrier. If a kid needs to take a snack to school for his class, I usually send it on a sturdy paper plate, resting in the bottom of a grocery bag. I tie the bag off so that the snack balances if held by the bag loops. Kids can take these on the bus, and nothing needs to be returned home. If I’m taking a pie to a friend, I carry it the same way.

4. Packing material.

5. Small trash can liners (this one is obvious). I also use them for a car trash bags.

6. Quilt-project container. Sometimes I have more than one quilt in progress. Finished squares and the fabric that goes with this project get stored together in a bag.

7. Vacuum-cleaner attachments holder. These items were scattered on the floor in the corner of my back hall until one day I pounded a nail, put the attachments in a bag, and hung them up. I also store things in my attic the same way.

8. Personal CD player carrier. If I’m doing light housework, and don’t want to annoy other family members with my music, I put the CD in a portable player, put the player in a grocery bag, then tuck the top of the bag inside the waistband of my pants, far enough down so that the CD player is close to my hip, and so it doesn’t slip out. If I’m hiking and want something more secure, I might tie it to a belt loop.

9. Deposit-can carrier. If I go for a walk, I stick a couple plastic bags in my pocket. If I see deposit cans and bottles, I pick them up as I walk. If my bag is full and I am a long way from home, I stash the bag in the brush (I live on a rural road) and pick it up when I drive by in my car sometime.

10. Tote bag. If I’m going out I toss some fruit, snacks and a bottle of water in a bag. Another bag might have my CD player, some CDs, and spare batteries. I also have some in my car for yard-saling, to keep together the small items I find.

Photo credit: swanksalot