PRACTICING PATIENCE, CREATIVITY, & COMPASSION FOR THE ENVIRONMENT
AT the start of the pandemic, many grocery stores switched to paper shopping bags instead of plastic bags, and you absolutely could not use your reusable bags.
I started saving my paper bags, hoping that I would figure out some way to recycle them. My favourite:
PAPER BAG PETS
During my art studies, we practiced many techniques and exercises. Continuous line drawing was one such exercise. It probably sticks with me the most as it frustrated the heck out of me. I could not get out of my head enough just to let loose and create. The drawing is made using – you guessed it, one continuous line. The line should never break. It is meant to enhance your observational skills.
Pick an image you would like to draw
Place your pen or marker (no erasing) on your piece of brown bag paper and begin to draw what you see. You can go over an area where you’ve already drawn, however,
DO NOT LIFT THE MARKER FROM THE PAPER
I am getting better at not needing these creations to look exactly like the subject I’m drawing. I appreciate the beauty in imperfection. The imperfections are what make these pieces so interesting to look at.
Embrace imperfection; it adds character
I cut the paper bags into 5 x 7 and 8 x 10 pieces
Covering with cotton, I ironed the pieces so they weren’t so crumpled. They still contain plenty of character – some even have a few grease spots!
Playing relaxing music in the background, I picked up a medium-tipped pen, chose a point in the middle of my photo to work from, and slowly worked around the paper to create my continuous line drawing of Ricky.
It’s stressful times. I hope you can find a few minutes to try this exercise. If you do, please let me know your thoughts in the comments below.
OTHER WAYS TO USE PAPER BAGS:
CRAFT PROJECTS FOR KIDS
Cut out pieces as I did above and use them as drawing and colouring paper, or kids can make fun masks out of the bags and simply cut out mouth and eyes.
For some reason, I feel the need to remove the cover of a hardback book before I start reading it, especially if the book is on loan. I’m not hard on books – I don’t dog-ear the pages, and I always wash my hands before flipping through it. I just like to preserve the cover. A temporary paper bag sleeve works perfectly! Plus, if you’re ready the Fifty Shades series in public….
Our apple tree is ripe with fruit. I filled two bags before meeting up with friends. They were delighted with the produce, and I think the brown paper was the perfect, rustic, farm-style gift bag choice.
GIFT BAGS & TAGS
Similar idea as above; however, you can cut the bags into sheets of gift wrap or tags and decorate with burlap, twine, lace, or get creative: paint, stencil, or modge podge cutout pieces onto your plain brown paper.
USE FOR COMPOSTING
I have a garbage bin and compost bin built into one of my kitchen cabinets. We used to use biodegradable bags in the compost bin; since the paper is also compostable, I am adding my kitchen scraps and other compost items in a paper bag. When it’s complete, I place it directly into the green bin. Do you use compost in your garden? Even better! Dump the food scraps onto your compost heap and add the pieces of the torn-up bag to the pile.
A friend of ours is in the horticultural group in town. They look after the beautiful grounds of our local park. Recently, she put a call out to friends, asking us to save our newspapers and flyers to help them fight the weed growth. These paper bags work just as well, if not better, as they do not contain ink/dye. Use in your gardens by placing paper bags on the soil around your plants before mulching. This layer helps prevent weeds from taking over your beautiful plants!
I love walking the dogs in the park, admiring the fantastic work of the group, and knowing I was able to contribute a tiny, weeny bit.
I hope you have found ways to take mental breaks during these trying times.
Ruth Epstein says
What a clever idea as to what to do with your brown paper bags. In San Francisco the stores are not allowed to use plastic and at the pandemic my house over flowed with brown bags as I could not use my own shopping bags. But I used them for
my compostables and recycled items which helped me keep the collection pile down.
We all need to step forward and save the earth from all the plastics and other items that cannot be recycled.
Ruth Epstein recently posted…Happy Friday the 13th everyone
Agreed! I imagine you have a beautiful garden in San Fran, Ruth.
What terrific ideas for re-using paper bags! I remember the various ways my grandmother used paper bags. Nothing ever went to waste. It’s amazing how a simple paper bag can become an beautiful craft project. Great ideas for recycling.
Terri recently posted…EASY PROVEN WAYS TO DESTRESS QUICKLY WITH YOUR DOG
Not sure if it’s you or your Grandmother, but as I read your comment, I had another creative idea pop into my head.
Marjorie at Dash Kitten says
Love the positivity here. it is much more fun to try to make lemonade out of lemons than to grumble and gripe!
What an inspiring post, and I just KNOW everyone can make use of these ideas! My portrait is my total favourite!!
Thank you so much, Marjorie.
I loved creating that for you xx
Kamira Gayle says
These are clever ideas. Oh, I remember those days with using paper bags for book covers. I had no idea that paper bags are good for composting and preventing weeds. Who knew? Thanks for sharing these ideas.
Kamira Gayle recently posted…August 17th is Black Cat Appreciation Day!
Honestly, I wouldn’t have known about weed control if our friend hadn’t asked for our flyers.
I’m not much of a green thumb lol
What an interesting exercise! Your drawing is really good. I have hand tremors, so my drawings all look like they’ve been through an earthquake. I can see how continuous line drawing could be really relaxing though. I hadn’t thought about using paper bags in compost. That’s a great idea!
Robin recently posted…Comment on How To Deal With Return To Work Anxiety In Dogs by CrittEar
Thanks, Robin. I know I still need to get out of my head and not try to be so exact.
Speaking of, I don’t think your tremors would take away from this at all. The looser drawn these are, the better they look (IMO).
Love all these ideas! We always use all our bags/paper/cardboard that we get delivered as craft supplies for my kids, or as enrichment for the dogs! My kids love using paper bags and paper from deliveries to hide treats in for my dogs to tear apart and find – It’s fun for the whole family!
Thanks for the additional suggestions, Nikki.
I will have to try the treat bag idea – I know Henry would be totally into that!
Tiffany Smith says
We use our paper bags for enrichment for our pets. I love the idea of using them for art!
That’s a fabulous idea. How do you use them for enrichment activities, Tiffany?
jana rade says
I like to play with mixed media art and gel printing. I find paper bags wonderful material for gel printing.
jana rade recently posted…A Primer on Flatulence in Dogs: Why Does My Dog Have Gas?
Great suggestion! Thanks, Jana
Bj Bangs says
What great DIY projects from paper bags. With more people turning away from plastic, now we have more paper bags to work with, and this post gives us some great info on how we can use them.
Thanks, BJ. Waste not, want not, right?!
Britt K says
These are such cute ways to make use of the paper bags that we all have kicking around. Unfortunately, around here the grocery stores all stuck with plastic bags (as if we needed more of those floating around) while still refusing to let anyone use their reusable bags. I’ve never heard of the paper bag pets exercise before but it sounds like fun. I might have to challenge my older nieces to take that on together the next time that we’re hanging out.
Britt K recently posted…Here’s Everything To Know About Potty Training Your Puppy *
Weird that it’s not a Province-wide initiative (to get rid of the plastic).
I love that you’re going to try this with your nieces!