Storing Plastic Grocery Bags

I mostly use re-usable grocery bags.  Still, I end up with some plastic grocery bags when I buy more than will fit in my re-usable bags, or I forget them, or someone gives me something in one.  But that’s not all bad, as I use the plastic bags for mini trash bags in our small waste baskets.

If you’re not careful, though, they seem to multiply in the cupboard and spill out everywhere.  Depending on where you’d like to store them, I’ve got 4 possible solutions:

1.  Fabric Tube

You can buy bag holders like that shown above in almost any grocery store, Wal-mart or dollar store.  It’s also very easy to make your own with a simple drawstring at the top and bottom.  If you knit or crochet, you can make them that way, too.

We used one of these aboard Que Tal — left by the previous owner — and just hung it from a hook in a hanging locker.  Since it’s “soft” there were never any bumps or thumps, no matter how the boat was moving.

2.  Old Sock

If you don’t care about being able to hang the bag container, you can stuff the plastic bags into an old athletic sock.  This can make good padding for noisy or breakable items in a locker, but can be a little less convenient when you want to use one.  Of course, you could add a hanging loop to the top of the sock — or just cut a small hole to hang it by!

3.  Paper Towel Tube

Similarly, you can stuff them into a paper towel tube.  This makes a great way to take some along on a beach clean up day, or to stick inside a daypack for a picnic.

4.  Plastic Bag Origami

Just as I was writing this article, Jackie on Lively Lady sent me an e-mail saying, “Some people look at me cross-eyed when I suggest this tip, but I’ve found that on the boat we need to find ‘space’ however we can.”

She included a link to the Origami Resource Center, showing how to easily tame plastic bags into these cute (and neat!) little triangles.  The photo here comes from their site, too.

These are really easy to store and are nice and tidy to take along in a purse, pack or pants pocket.  If you have kids aboard, you might even get them to do the folding!

Admittedly, you can buy much more elaborate bag dispensers than those I’ve mentioned here.  But most are steel, which rusts easily aboard a boat, and all are larger and heavier.  These solutions are free to very cheap, lightweight, and are soft if you happen to bump into one.

Got another way you store your bags?  Does it work well?  Let the rest of us know in the comments.

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  • Karen
    Posted at 11 March 2012 Reply

    We flatten grocery bags, roll them, then tie them in a knot. They serm to take up less room when we toss them in a container.

  • Michelle Beatty on Facebook
    Posted at 11 March 2012 Reply

    i use my THE BOAT GALLEY bag when shopping…..:)))))

  • John Grossman on Facebook
    Posted at 22 August 2012 Reply

    Empty wet wipe containers work well too…

  • Kenneth Arnold on Facebook
    Posted at 22 August 2012 Reply

    I use one like the Pic, $1 at Dollar Tree stores and holds 15+ bags.

  • Candy Ann Williams on Facebook
    Posted at 22 August 2012 Reply

    I love the origami idea, but I can just barely get my husband to put them in my cloth bag, I can just see his face if I suggested the origami…LOL! Thanks for smother good tip…I AM going to give the origami a try.

  • Molly Stokes
    Posted at 23 April 2013 Reply

    Empty kleenex boxes will give you lots of room to stuff the bags.

  • MaryJo
    Posted at 05 September 2013 Reply

    The first thing I do when choosing whether or not to keep a plastic bag is to make sure it’s clean and doesn’t have any holes. Then I always do the origami thing; it’s fast to do (it’s just like folding a flag), and takes up the least amount of storage space. And like you said, it fits neatly into a purse or glove compartment or pocket. Especially handy for the larger bags that are a little heavier and which can be re-used several times.

  • Cathy
    Posted at 19 January 2014 Reply

    The origami trick is my favorite – takes no time at all and about a million of them fit in a babric tube-bag!

  • Darlene Price
    Posted at 19 January 2014 Reply

    I tried the paper towel roll but the paper got moist. I’m going to try an empty coffee canister this year. The wet ones idea is good, pretty much the same idea.

  • G
    Posted at 25 December 2015 Reply

    You go ashore to market and return to your vessel with 10 or more plastic bags and 1 large canister package of kitchen wipes. Remove the wipes from the canister and place them in a large Zip Lock slider bag, they’ll fit! Wad up your plastic grocery bags one at a time and stuff them in the canister. You may not get close to filling the canister with ten bags but on will always be at the top for easy retrieval. You can add more trash bags as needed. This set up is easily stored and won’t rust and I’ve never run out of bags once I filled it.

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