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Cheaper Than Cheap Tip Of The Week #6 : Wash And Reuse Plastic Baggies

by The Happy Rock on May 30, 2008

“Cheaper Than Cheap” is a recurring tip series about frugality. The idea is to provide potentially helpful frugality tips that border on fanatical or fictitious to the point of becoming humorous. Love them or hate them, let’s hear what you think. Tip #5 was on Save Gas By Being Creative.

baggies-dry-line1.jpgIt really is as simple as the title suggests. Just wash and rinse your plastic sandwich and storage baggies. Spend the extra money and by Ziploc or other major brand baggies, and reuse them until they wear out. Baggies can be reused for multiple uses so that one box of bags can last a year or more. As a side benefit you are also savings resources and putting less trash in landfills.

For those that need a little more encouragement or step by step instructions you can read the how to guide at eHow. There are also some more unique solution like the Bag-E-Wash which allows you to wash baggies in the dishwasher. You can even hang the baggies on the line as seen in the picture. A similar tactic I like to use is to skip baggies all together and pack stuff in reusable Pyrex or plastic containers rather than baggies.

Depending on the amount of bags that you use, you can easily save $20 a year.

Poll:

{democracy:5}

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Thecpa June 2, 2008 at 12:30 am

Happy Rock,

Doesn’t everyone reuse plastic zip lock bags? We have been washing and reusing them for decades as long as they did not store meats. If they contained meats we were afraid that we might transfer bacteria around so those bags get tossed out. Otherwise, you can get many uses from one zip lock bag. We really don’t keep track of how much we have saved but it is probably been a few dollars over the years.

I didn’t answer the poll since you don’t have a category for me such as “Great idea, I already wash and reuse plastic bags.”

Thanks for the post.

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The Happy Rock June 2, 2008 at 7:19 am

@Thecpa – Wow, you guys are way ahead of the curve! This particular frugality tip isn’t my favorite given the return on time investment is not that high.

I will have to change the poll in the next tip. Thanks for the suggestion.

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spillingbuckets June 2, 2008 at 7:39 am

Interesting… I just started reading “The Tightwad Gazette” and this was one of the first things she mentions.

I can’t bring myself to reuse many bags, I pretty much only use the heavy duty ones for meat and then use the ultra cheap sandwich bags or reusable tupperware for everything else.

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Ed June 2, 2008 at 12:50 pm

$20 a year. In order to be responsible with my finances, do I have to be concerned about saving that $20 by the end of the year?
It seems over kill to me.
You could probably save a lot of money each year, by not cooking your food, but where is the enjoyment?
We use canvas bags, but it is mostly for environmental reasons.

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Ducreyi June 2, 2008 at 7:13 pm

Hi happy rock, I also didn’t answer the poll for the same reason as Thecpa, I’m also looking for- “Great idea, I already wash and reuse plastic bags.”

But I actually find your article informative ‘coz I didn’t know that I can probably save as much as that from plastics and baggies. But then, setting financial concerns aside, I would like to reuse them for earthly intentions. — By the way, I’ve read an article about BIODEGRADABLE plastics, I think that’s good and reasonable.

Thanks Happy Rock..:-)

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The Happy Rock June 3, 2008 at 10:01 pm

@Ducreyi – Thanks for the comment. Glad to help. Both increasing recycling and coming up with more earth friendly products is a must.

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The Happy Rock June 3, 2008 at 10:06 pm

@Ed – That is why the series is called Cheaper Than Cheap. These tips can border on fanatical, but are joys for others. If you find it to be a huge bother, there are many other large decisions that are much more worth your effort. Save your energy for the stuff that is really important.

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Justin June 8, 2008 at 12:54 pm

I was raised by my grandparents (who both went through the Great Depression and have many stories and frugality tips to show from it) and they’ve been doing this since the 1930′s. This is one of those tips that I think crosses the line of going too far. The incremental cost of a few additional plastic bags per year is outweighed by the effort of washing/cleaning them and the “I’m poor” feeling you get from going through the exercise.
Granted, I measure out a lot of my food into individual servings so that I don’t eat too much per sitting (both for financial & health reasons) and reuse the plastic bags on the same type of food, but I think washing and reusing plastic bags over and over really isn’t worth the effort. I mean, at some point you need to take into account the opportunity cost of spending your time on excessive efforts that take away from really important things (family, work, exercise…).

-Justin

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Margie June 12, 2008 at 11:18 am

HR,
I have been doing this for years. The only ones I will not use is ones that meat has been in. You can rinse a little to get any loose particles off, then toss inside out into your load of bleach cloths. Then hang on the line, or little round clippy thing. I just found your site yesterday and I love it. I love reading everyones tips. I also do this with those scrubbies for bathing, so we do not have to purchace new ones every few months as the suggest.

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The Happy Rock June 17, 2008 at 9:46 am

@Justin – I tend to agree. I make and solid effort to reuse bags when possible, but I don’t go crazy. I do like the savings on plastic waste aspect too not just the monetary benefits.

@Margie – Hmmm using a washing machine could be interesting. Just find a place to store all the used bags for a while(out of bug reach) and then wash them all at once. Great idea!

Glad to provide helpful place to learn! Enjoy.

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Allison Zafiratos June 21, 2008 at 7:44 pm

I have washed and reused plastic baggies for a long time and have been very pleased with myself – i now wonder if i am poisoning my family at the same time???? any comments on this would be appreciated! love your website!

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Torlon March 26, 2009 at 4:21 pm

My mother always insisted I do this, and it was always kind of embarrassing to be saving all my plastic bags from lunch the whole day. But we certainly never had to buy more than a box or two of bags every year, so I guess it worked for her.

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Oceans Green April 2, 2009 at 6:29 am

Hi,

We ran across your site and i have some ideas to share about “Biodegradable Products” it offers eco friendly, non toxic and sustainable products. This products design to decompose quickly, completely and safe without leaving any residues. Its 100% no harm to human and enviroment.

Thanks, we’ll come back often.

Thanks again,

Oceans Green

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Patrick October 27, 2009 at 3:07 pm

This makes me think of the days when I was a youngin’ and my mother would rewash the cloth diapers. The disposable diapers were meant to be for vacationers, but boy how they caught on and have made a huge difference for good and for ill. I have cloth diapers for my children stored with my emergency food storage. I don’t have room for hundreds of disposables, besides I like your idea and line of thinking about washing bags for purposes of frugality. I don’t care if it takes me a little extra time. Back in the depression they had to “use it up, wear it out, make do, or do without.” These times may possibly be upon us again.

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Bluegrassbrown August 1, 2012 at 10:43 pm

In regards to reusing baggies. It’s a delicate topic. When use a baggie to keep something messy or saucy, after using I throw it out. But for dry products I keep using them. But! what about the plastic breaking down and entering the food? As is with plastic soda bottles it is said they are meant for one use only. They are not designed for reuse. The plastic, so I’ve heard said, does break down and enter the food it’s carrying. Any one have the ‘facts?’ concerning this I’d appreciate it.
Cheap from Long Beach L.I.

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