Are you shocked by the recent news articles and images showing the amount of plastic pollution that has overtaken parts of the globe? Does your heart break when you read of the overwhelming number of marine animals and marine life that have has become victims of plastic pollution? If you are ready to reduce your carbon footprint and reduce the amount of plastic pollution you alone are putting into the world, then this article is for you!
As a society, we are actively looking for ways to reduce the amount of plastic pollution that is created in our individual areas. One way we can do that? Is to reduce the amount of plastic pollution created by daily shopping trips. People need to shop in order to live a comfortable lifestyle, whether is heading to your local department store for hygienic items or clothing or going to your local grocery store for items that are needed in your household.
A Closer Look
So, if shopping trips are a necessary part of your lifestyle, then how can you reduce your plastic pollution? Easy – by making your own reusable cloth shopping bag. Each store you visit and make a purchase in will generally place your new items in a plastic bag but you can now choose to your own reusable cloth shopping bag. The bonus part? We are going to learn how to make them ourselves for a fraction of the cost that they sell in-store.
Why it is Important to Make Your Own Reusable Cloth Shopping Bags
Before we find out how to make our own reusable shopping bags, it is important to know all the reasons why it is to your advantage to do so. There are numerous reasons to switch over to reusable cloth shopping bags and while topping the list is the reduction of plastic pollution into the environment, there are many other reasons that also hold significance. Let’s take a look at some of the most common reasons and advantages to using reusable cloth shopping bags:
- Cost Savings: more retailers across the globe are now charging consumers for plastic bags in an effort to reduce the amount of plastic pollution. These charges can range anywhere from five cents up to 25 cents and are usually on a per-bag basis. On the other hand, some retailers will reduce the overall cost of your purchase if you use your own reusable shopping bags during the transaction.
- Environmental Savings: each plastic bag that ends up in landfills need to be individually processed for recycling and ones that are left to rot can take up to 1,000 years to fully degrade. Reusable cloth bags can be broken down into other materials and recycled in a variety of ways.
- Strength of Bags: a plastic bag can only hold up to a certain amount of weight or can only hold a select number of items. A reusable cloth shopping bag is extremely durable and can hold multiple items totaling a higher overall weight without tearing while reducing the number of trips you need to make from your vehicle to your home to bring in your purchases.
- Less Germs: a plastic bag comes in contact with numerous people, from the manufacturers to the consumer and so forth. Thanks to the plastic material of the bags, germs easily live on the surface and are transferred from person to person. A reusable cloth shopping bag can be wiped down with an anti-bacterial wipe, removing germs and stains caused by leaking products or whatnot.
- Less Clutter: have you tried to neatly or compactly store your plastic bags at home? If you can, then all power to you but if you can’t; then you know it can be a real mess to keep plastic bags in your home. Reusable cloth shopping bags are easily folded into small squares and can be stacked neatly on a shelf or in the back of your car without taking up valuable storage space.
What You Will Need:
Now we are ready to create and make our own reusable cloth shopping bags but before we were, we need to ensure that the following items are on hand and accessible:
- The fabric of your own choosing – cotton, muslin, linen, etc.
- Will need to have four pieces for one bag (outside shell and inner liner)
- Can also use an old T-shirt if you have them lying around the house
- Sewing machine or needle and thread
- The heavy-duty thread is recommended regardless of the method chosen
- Sewing pins
- Sharp scissors that will cut easily through fabric
- Clothes iron
- A reusable bag for reference
With all the assembled items, let’s begin the process to make our own reusable cloth shopping bags:
Clear a large open area to use as your workstation, such as your kitchen table, and assemble all your supplies in the open area.
Take the existing reusable bag and place it on each section of material that needs to be cut.
You can use different colors or patterns during this process to showcase your individual personality or use two different pieces of fabric to distinguish the outer part of the reusable bag from the inner lining.
Using the scissors cut the material into a shape resembling the existing reusable bag, handles and all.
Repeat steps 2 and 3 for the remaining three pieces of material.
Once all four pieces of material have been cut to resemble a bag-shape (think a box with handles or arms); take the outer shell pieces of material and pin the edges together using the sewing pins to form a pouch.
Once both sides of the fabric have been pinned together, use either a sewing machine or a needle and thread to sew up the outer edges of the fabric. Double stitch each side to ensure durability and strength.
Double stitch each side of the material whether you are using a sewing machine or a needle and thread.
Repeat steps 4 and 5 for the lining material, pinning the sides and reinforcing the edges with a double stitch on the sewing machine or through the use of a needle and thread.
Preheat the clothes iron in preparation for the next step, keeping the heat setting low enough it will not burn the fabric but hot enough to complete the task required – medium heat should be the best.
Once the clothes iron is preheated, turn the sewed bag inside out (both pieces – outer and inner) and evenly press the seams to one side to mold the overall shape of the bag.
Do not unplug the iron after this step as it will be used later in the making process.
Once the seams are pressed, leave the pieces of material inside out and place the inner liner section over the outer shell so you are looking at an unstitched and inside out bag.
If the sections of fabric were cut evenly and the same shape, these pieces should line up easily without any issue.
Using sewing pins, pin the inner liner to the outer shell all the way around but avoiding the upper part of the handles.
Using the sewing machine or needle and thread, sewed the inner liner to the outer shell of the bag while avoiding the handles as this is where the opening will be.
Turn the bag right side out and situate the inner liner snugly inside the bag.
Using the clothes iron, gently smooth out the fabric, creating a surface without lumps or frumpy edges.
Turn the bag outside itself again in preparation for making the sides. To do this, simply fold a section of the fabric over itself to create an edge; stopping at the halfway point of the bag.
Pin this edge in place and repeat on the other side in preparation for sewing.
Sew these edges to create depth in the reusable bag. You can double stitch across the bottom of the bag in step to ensure durability.
Sew across the top of the handles on your reusable bag while it is still turned inside out.
To strengthen the handles, turn the bag the right side out and create a miniature version of the edges described in step 14 placing the raw edges of your handles inside the bag. Pin these edges in place so they do not slip out while sewing.
Sew all around the handles, stopping once you meet up with the other double stitching on the sides and around the top of the bag.
Turn off the sewing machine, unplug that iron and marvel in your own creation!
When it comes to reusable cloth shopping bags, there really isn’t anything to lose but instead everything to gain. How can a plastic bag compete with one that can not only hold all of our purchases without tearing, or compete with a bag that is durable, easy to carry, and features some pretty funky designs that showcase your personality! It can’t be honest and when you make the switch over to reusable cloth shopping bags, not only are you helping the environment and saving marine plus plant life from losing their homes due to plastic infestation, you are making a statement that plastic doesn’t need to be clogging up our landfills and creating more issues for future generations.
Take the time you will spend to create your own reusable cloth shopping bags and turn it into a fun activity you can do with your family. Let each member pick their own cloth to suit their personality and design bags that they will be proud to use, whether it is for household purchases or bringing their belongings to an overnight stay with friends! Go green and go cloth when it comes to your shopping bags and really feel the difference.