Recycled T-Shirt Reusable Grocery Bags
I took my T-shirt reusable grocery bags on their first spin the other week and I love them! This year, it was made illegal for stores to provide disposable grocery bags. I am a bit of a tree hugger and was excited about the focus on the environment, but I was a little bummed because we used the bags as trash bags and now I have to buy trash bags. Once the law passed, however, I soon learned that reusable grocery bags are WAY better than the disposable plastic ones. They hold a lot more and make it easier to get everything into your car and then into your house.
But I still had a few big concerns. First, it was expensive to buy that many reusable grocery bags. I hate grocery shopping, so I have a tendency to go every two weeks and buy a TON of food. I buy so much food that I can hardly push the cart and people stare at me as I heave the cart around the grocery store. To carry everything home, I needed a lot of bags. Also, lots of the bags didn’t hold up very well to wear and tear. I found that cereal box corners quickly tore holes in the sides of my recycled polypropylene bags. They were also a pain to fold up and store and took up about half my shopping cart space. But my biggest concern was the germ factor. You can pick up all kinds of gross germs from grocery stores and food packaging, and most of those reusable bags have to be hand washed. I don’t even iron, like I was going to be hand washing those every time I used them.
So I decided to make some t-shirt reusable grocery bags out of old T-shirts I was going to get rid of. The are super durable, cheap, easy to fold up and store, and best of all, I can just toss them in the washing machine! My only problem is that my old T-shirts were UGLY. So I decided to tie dye them with bleach! They are super easy to make.
Recycled T-Shirt Reusable Grocery Bags Tutorial
1. Turn your T-shirt inside out and pin together the bottom hem. Then sew it closed. [Note on Picking T-shirts to Use: Many of the new t-shirts include spandex. These look really cute, but because they are stretchy, they don’t hold heavy things as well.]
2. Turning the T-shirt right side out again, cut the arms off around at the seams.
3. Lay your T-shirt flat, making sure the seams are all lined up, and trace a circle around the neck of the T-shirt. I used a big bowl and a sharpie to get a nice round line. Then cut the neck off using the circle as your guide. Make sure you cut through both sides of the shirt.
4. These striped T-shirt reusable grocery bags were cute enough that I didn’t have to do anything else to them. So you can call it quits here or if your T-shirts are old and faded like many of mine, you can go to the next step. The first thing I did was change into something I didn’t care about getting bleach on. It is way too easy to get splashed on. You will also want to make sure the area you are in is well ventilated.
5. Make sure T-shirt bag is clean and thoroughly wet. You are now ready to start creating either spirals or lines. To get a spiral, I laid the shirt out flat and then twirled a fork in the middle of it, much like you would do with spaghetti noodles. Once the t-shirt was tightly wrapped around in a kind of cinnamon roll looking thing, I secured it with rubber bands. To get the lines, I folded the t-shirt like an accordion and then folded the two ends into the middle, securing it all with rubber bands.
6. I stuck the T-shirts in the bottom of my sink and poured diluted bleach carefully over each shirt. I diluted my beach 1 to 3 parts water so that it wouldn’t be so harsh on the fabric. If you are not careful, bleach can eat holes in the fabric. Once I was done, I flipped the T-shirts over and poured bleach on the other side. I then waited for about 15 minutes to let the bleach do its work.
7. Once I was happy with the color, I ran warm water over all the T-shirts to get out as much bleach as I could before touching them. I then removed the rubber bands and gave them another good rinse. I hadn’t bothered to put on gloves since I figured I wouldn’t be submerging my hands in the bleach, but in retrospect, I wish I had grabbed some. Even just touching the T-shirts was really hard on my hands and they were dried and cracked for a few days.
8. Bleach is really hard to get off and will continue to eat away at the fabric after you have washed it if you don’t neutralize it. I used hydrogen peroxide since I had some on hand. I diluted the hydrogen peroxide 1 to 10 parts water and let the t-shirts soak in there for about 15 minutes.
9. Give everything a final rinse and then run your t-shirt reusable grocery bags through the wash and dry them normally in the dryer.
Now, after I go shopping, I just run my t-shirt reusable grocery bags through the hot cycle of my washing machine to keep everything sanitized. They are then easy to fold up and keep in the back of my car. I love how compact they are and that they don’t take up my whole trunk like the other ones used to!
But the bag that I get the most compliments on is my insulated grocery bag. I hook it to my cart and put all my cold stuff in there to keep it cold while I shop. After I check out, it keeps it the food cold on the way home too. And I love having all my cold stuff in one bag so that I can grab that bag first and put it away right away. When you are grocery shopping with littles, sometimes you can’t get it all put away at once, so it is nice having the perishable stuff all in one place.