Giving Paper Bags a New Purpose

Recently, many paper bags provided by dining halls, the Pit, and Hillside Market are being tossed into the trash even though they belong in the paper recycling bin. Even if they are used to collect non-recyclable waste, the bags can still be recycled and should be placed in the paper recycling bin. This creates more bin space and allows the bag to be recycled into another paper item. Be sure you know how to properly sort your materials from the dining halls. See our poster here.

However, before recycling an item, it is sometimes more eco friendly (and fun!) to repurpose them. Here are a few ways you can give a paper bag a new use.

  1. Book Cover

Protect your books with paper bags. Even if the cover rips, you can always replace it and customize it again. Here is an easy-to-follow video.

2. Gift Wrap, Bags, and Tags

Make your presents aesthetically pleasing by wrapping them with paper and drawing fun designs on them. You can also use the bag as it is or cut it up and make gift tags.

3. Wrap Flowers

Presentation is key when you give a bouquet of flowers. Simply cut the handles of the paper bags off and use it to wrap the bouquet. You can use old newspapers too.

4. Planters

Use your bags as seedling starters or line them with a grocery bag to create a cute planter like the ones shown in image at the top of this article.

5. Placemats and Coasters

Create disposable placemats and coasters with paper bags. The kiddos can also draw on them for an afternoon activity.

6. Compost

Did you know paper bags are compostable? Rip them into pieces and add them to your compost pile.

7. Prevent Weeds

Placing plain (no dye) paper bags on the soil before covering with compost or mulch adds an extra layer of weed prevention for your plants.


Written by Emily Su, Class of 2022

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