By now, many of us know that the best way to help the plastic recycling and trash issue is to reduce the amount of plastic packaging we buy in the first place. This is what it boils down to. There are lots of tips on how to avoid superfluous packaging that ranges from shopping at farmer’s markets when possible, to buying food, toiletries, and cleaning products in bulk.

Try looking for options to refill your shampoo and laundry detergent bottles instead of buying new ones each time. Check out OGP recipes for homemade hummus, peanut butter, ketchup, and all the other products that are often bought in throwaway plastic containers.

And what about all of those loose veggies at the supermarket? Well, instead of grabbing one of those plastic bags, you could take your own reusable produce bag with you.

With all that said, none of us is perfect, and sometimes we do end up with something that is not really widely recyclable and may just end up in the trash. One of those items is those pesky plastic mess bags that produce comes in at the supermarket. You know the ones; they usually contain garlic, oranges, lemons, or potatoes.

As is the case with a lot of upcycling craft projects, there is only so much of it we can do. How many pencil cases need to be made from old plastic bottles? Indeed, there are only so many things that can be realistically made from those mesh produce bags, but there are a few that are genuinely pretty useful and will help to keep at least some of them out of the landfill.

1. Pot Scrubber

Source: The Fallen Acorn/YouTube

This is an awesome way to use up quite a few of those mesh bags in one go. To make your pot scrubber, gather together a few sheets of mesh that have been cut from a produce bag. The more sheets you use, the bigger the scrubber will be. Neatly fold the sheet several times whilst tucking in all rough and raw edges as you go.

Once you are satisfied with the size and shape of your scrubber, clip the open sides together to secure them whilst you prepare a needle and some strong thread. You will need to sew the open edges together to stop the scrubber from unraveling. A simple blanket stitch is recommended for this project.

This scrubber can be washed clean after each use and even undone and washed thoroughly after a few uses. Though this is still a plastic item, it will reduce the need for buying more plastic pot scrubbers and keep at least a few of those bags from the trash.

2. Reusable Produce Bag

Source: Allswepetite/YouTube

Wouldn’t it be great to take that plastic mesh bag that has been deemed the perfect item for carrying home oranges, lemons, and potatoes, and take it right back to the supermarket and fill it up again with loose produce? Well, you can adapt existing instructions for other homemade reusable produce bags to fit plastic mesh bags.

This project requires you to be pretty handy with the sewing machine, or at least a confident hand stitcher! Whatever the case may be, take rectangles of mesh bags and sew along the edges to make pockets. You will not need to do this if the produce bag you have is already a reasonable size and shape.

You will have to sew some fabric around the tops of the bags to make a tube to pass the string through so that you can fashion a drawstring bag.

3. Bird Feeder

Source: Next Door Decor/YouTube

A great way to keep the birds happy is to take those mesh bags and fill them with yummy stuff for them to peck at. If the bags are small enough, for example, the bags that garlic bulbs often come in, you can simply fill that bag back again with peanuts and other nuts and seeds and hang it right back out on a tree branch.

The other mesh bags that are larger and tend to have larger holes in them can be used, too. You needn’t do too much sewing here. You can just cut squares of mesh that are big enough to cover a tennis ball-sized bird treat with material left over for securing and tying up.

Make a mixture of nuts, seeds, peanut butter, oats, and vegetable oil or vegetable suet. Combine the ingredients until they form a dough of sorts. Next, squeeze the mixture into tennis ball-sized balls and pop them in the fridge or freezer to set. Once they are ready, you can pop one ball onto a square of mesh and gather the sides of the mesh up. Secure the top by weaving a piece of rope or ribbon in and out of the holes, pull it tightly, and secure it with a knot. You can use the leftover ribbon or rope to hang the feeder from a tree branch. The mesh gives the birds something to hang on to whilst they enjoy their treat.

Every day, the average American throws away 4.4 pounds of garbage, roughly 728,000 tons. Food makes up a majority of our waste at about 24 percent, plastics just over 18 percent, and paper and paperboard make up about 12 percent. The hazardous environmental conditions this produces are only compounded by steadily rising land scarcity. We’re quickly running out of time to counter this, so start cutting back on your contribution to these landfills today.

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