Upcycle Sunday

Upcycle Sunday: plastic bag dispenser

If you’re anything like me, you’ve got a small mountain of plastic bags left over from the bad old days before they were regulated. Of course you can recycle them, but it works out a lot more ecofriendly if you keep using them for as long as possible and only recycle them when they have worn through. A study by the UK Environment Agency conducted in 2006 showed that plastic bags should be reused at least twice and then either recycled or re-purposed as a bin liner or something similar to off-set the carbon footprint of creating the bag in the first place. Obviously, the more you use a bag the better. It means fewer bags have to be made, which means fewer bags have to be dealt with later on, either in landfills or recycling depots, and better still, it means fewer bags have the potential to end up polluting the environment. On top of that, it saves you money at the till when you don’t have to buy a new bag for every shop.

I know a lot of people have reusable canvas and cotton tote bags, but those actually have a higher carbon footprint even than plastic because cotton is such a water intensive plant. That same study worked out that a cotton bag should be reused as many as 327 times to off-set the carbon footprint. So if you have the plastic bags lying around, you may as well use them, right?

This tutorial is a bit of a cheat as it is really similar to the tissue dispenser I made in the first post, but I’m working on another project which is proving to be more of a challenge than I had expected, so I’m stalling with some smaller projects while I work out the bugs.

Again, this project makes use of a Twinsaver tissue tube, but you could replicate this one anything tube shaped, even a tall jar, and hole a cut into the lid.

Step 1: Remove the plastic caps from the top and bottom of the tube and set them aside


Step 2: Decorate (if you want to). My bag dispenser lives in the boot of my car, so I didn’t bother to decorate it, but you could paint it, decoupage it, wrap it in paper or washi tape or anything you like!  See the tissue dispenser tutorial for my tips on painting it.

Step 3: Flip the top cap over and apply contact cement or a similar strong-hold glue of your choice to the rim. Allow to dry for 30 seconds and then stick to the top of the cardboard tube. Leave to dry completely.

Step 4: Roll your bags. You want the bags to overlap as you roll them so that as you pull one out, the next one follows. To achieve this, you’ll want to roll the bags like this:

Step 5: Replace the bottom cap. And you’re ready to go!

My super elegant boot organiser box keeps all my paper and canvas bags neat too, complete with gumboots for emergencies!


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