One of the little things that always makes me happy is when I can use what I already have to make what I need. That kind of thinking has always fit with my frugal nature, but it’s also become a bonus for me to know I’m not creating more waste in the world. Today’s project fits both those categories as I can be frugal and use up newspaper I have around, and create a handy little eco-friendly bag too with just a few folds.
One of the things I’ve noticed now that I’m using my homemade reusable grocery bags more and more, is that I don’t have as big of supply on hand of those plastic bags from the store. Now that’s a good thing when trying to reduce plastic, BUT those little bags came in handy for lots of things, and I particularly liked them for lining small trash cans in my home.
So one option I’m exploring is how to make an eco-friendly paper bag using old newspapers instead. Yes, I still get the newspaper one day a week – I know that lots of folks don’t even do that anymore! If you want to try this idea and don’t have newspaper, you might be able to score some old newspapers from paper recycling bins that don’t mind you doing a bit of “dumpster diving” .
I’ve got a couple methods to share today. One is a simple folding method and the other is a way to adapt a previous idea I shared for making gift bags from wrapping paper. (You can basically do the same thing with newspaper instead!)
How To Make Newspaper Bags: Step-by-Step
Now one thing I will say right off the bat here, is that the folding method resulted in a bag that was quite small. When I used one sheet of newspaper opened up (which was about 21″ x 21.5″) it resulted in a bag that was about 7.5″ x 9.5″.
SO – my solution was to make a larger piece by taping together some additional pieces of newspaper. Not quite as convenient, but it actually made a bag the size I wanted. I taped additional pieces of newspapers around the edges to make a piece 30″ x 27″. This gave me a bag that was 10″ x 12″. This was a much better size for lining my small wastebaskets (which was the main purpose of this whole endeavor for me).
Here’s a quick video I made of the steps for this folding method. I’ve got photos below showing the steps too.
Here are all the steps written out with photos:
Step 1: Lay a piece of newspaper out flat and opened up. Then fold down about 3″ on the top.
Step 2: Flip the piece over.
Step 3: Now fold one side in about a third.
Step 4: Then fold the other side in about a third.
Step 5: Now you will reposition that last fold so that it is tucked under the folded cuff at the top.
Step 6: Flip the piece over again.
Step 7: Now fold the piece in half toward the top.
Step 8: Finally, reposition this last fold so that it is tucked under the folded cuff at the top.
And now your folded bag is complete!
As mentioned earlier, I wanted a slightly larger bag than what was created by just one sheet of newspaper. I taped a few more pieces around the edges to make a piece 30″x27″ and this gave me a nice size finished bag that was about 10″x12″ (using the folding method just described) that I’m using to line a small wastebasket in my bathroom.
Bonus Idea #2 for a Newspaper Bag
And finally, here’s one more idea for making a bag from recycled newspaper. This is the same method I use when I want to make a gift bag from wrapping paper. You need to do a little folding and taping but it goes together pretty fast and easy!
The general rule of thumb I use for this method is to start with a piece of paper twice as wide as it is high. This works just fine with newspaper too. All you need to do is not open the paper up. Just take a single piece and leave it folded like you do for reading. This also gives you a double layer of paper for a sturdier bag. Your finished bag will be more square than with the method described above and will be about a 9″x7″ size when finished.
You can get all the steps for this idea #2 over on my How To Make Your Own Gift Bags post, which includes a video of all the folding steps too.
Whichever method you choose, remember that to make a larger bag, you will need to start with a larger piece which may mean you have to improvise and tape a few other pieces of newspaper together. Even so, it’s still a handy way to make your own paper bags if you’re trying to reduce plastic in your life, and a frugal way to repurpose something you may already have laying around.