Brown paper bags made Murray Langston famous in the 70s when he wore one over his head and became the Unknown Comic. When you chose paper over plastic, the possibilities are endless. You don’t have to aim for brown paper bag stardom, just DIY simplicity.
Paper bags hold more groceries than plastic bags. They’re biodegradable and easily recyclable. They make handy liners for small trash containers, and you can scrunch them up to use as packing materials.
Small paper bags are perfect for school lunches and essential for outdoor candle luminaries. And that’s just the beginning of their usefulness.
Make sheets of brown paper to work with
Flatten a brown paper bag and cut away the bottom. Cut it from bottom to top. Open it up, and you’ll have the brown paper you need to make these simple DIY items.
When you need just one envelope, why waste your time, effort, and gas going to the store? Find an old envelope that’s the size and shape you need. Carefully open the sealed edges. Smooth it flat. Use it as a pattern to draw and cut an envelope from brown paper.
Glue the flaps into place (just like the old envelope). Address it and seal it. You can make envelopes small enough for a letter or big enough to mail a large document. Try adding a hand-lettered, eco-friendly brag on the back: “I recycle, do you?”
Ship a package
Stores sell brown craft/kraft paper to wrap packages for shipping, but grocery bags are free. Simply wrap your box. Glue on small rectangular address and return labels cut from brown paper. Then add postage and mail it.
Jazz up a package with a brown paper bow
Wrap your package with brown paper, then add a swirly, curly paper bow. Cut 8 strips of paper ½ inch wide and 16 inches long. Stack, then staple or tape the strips together in the middle. Scissor-curl each strip. Tape or glue into place.
Make a gift bag
Wrap a box with brown paper. Tape or glue the side and one end only. Slip the box out through the unsealed end and fold the open edges to the inside to make your bag.
Add handles made with two pieces of 2 by 14 inch paper. Fold into thirds lengthwise and glue together for sturdiness. Glue handles into place on the sides of your bag. Make your bag fancy by gluing a swirly, curly paper bow on the front.
Make paper shreds
You’ll need paper shreds to fill your gift bag, so grab your document shredder and get to work. If you simply must have color, mix in some colorful, shredded tissue paper.
Make cheap books covers
Textbook dirt and dings can mean fines at the end of the school year. Protect school books with cheap and easy, old-school book covers like Grandma used to make.
Cut a piece of brown paper four inches wider and four inches taller than your book. Fold the top and bottom two inches down and crease. Slip the open ends over the book and smooth into place.
These paper bag DIY projects are easy, cheap, and simple. They’re a great reason to choose paper over plastic. Your choice can lead to a habit of reducing, reusing, and recycling; and you might save a little cash along the way.