Brown Paper Bag: Recycle This

Occasionally you go into a store and buy a little something. A really little something. You know all the smart boutiques where they don’t waste money having logos and store names printed on small bags, they simply hand you that one-of-a-kind bamboo bracelet in a discreet, unassuming brown paper bag. Here are ten great ways to make re-use of that bag:

1. Pack your lunch to-go. There was a time when this bag was the go-to staple for packing kids’ school lunches. Now we’re not so wasteful! But when you come along one, you might as well use it for the old standby. Pack that PB&J, throw in an apple and you’re on your way!

2. Use it to prevent dust from forming on your drying herbs. Simply poke a hole in the bottom of the bag, use string to gather your herbs, tying the string off and pulling it through the hole in the bag. Attach the string to a hanger or tie it directly to whatever you are hanging the drying herbs from. See our post on how to dry herbs.

3. Decorate them and use them for gift bags. This is especially fun for gift exchanges between kids. If you are taking your child to a birthday party, let her decorate the bag for her friend. This is a great way to personalize the gift and teach your child about the purpose of “giving.” When done with love, even a paper bag can be a treasure. Awww…

4. While grocery-sized bags make better book covers for large books, you can still use small brown paper bags to cover smaller books whose covers you want to preserve.

5. Make luminaries, little candle lanterns made from small paper bags that line a walkway or driveway. Find directions on how to make luminaries on eHow.com.

6. Paper bag puppets are an easy fun craft any parent can do (even those parents who claim no crafty gene). Pick from frogs, lions, giraffes and more. If your child has a favorite animal, learn how to make that animal into the paper bag puppet of his dreams!

7. Cut shapes from the bag, decorate them and use them as gift tags.

8. Ripen tomatoes and bananas. If you buy or pick your fruit before it’s ripe, put the tomatoes or bananas in a paper bag. Roll down the top and place them in a cool, dry area. Be sure to check them every couple days. Within a week, the tomatoes will turn bright red and will have ripened, the bananas will have gone from green to yellow.

9. If you want to save seeds from this year’s vegetable garden, allow your chosen veggies to flower and set seed. Harvest seed on a mild, dry day when the seed is fully ripe. If seed is slightly damp then dry overnight at room temperature. Store seeds in small paper bags contained in a larger plastic bag in the refrigerator and sow the following spring (depending on what species it is). Seed will keep in the fridge for several years.

10. Make popcorn: Put one quarter cup popcorn in a brown paper bag, roll the top down, and place it in a low wattage microwave. Make sure the bag doesn’t touch the sides of the microwave. Cook for two and a half minutes, or until popping stops.