The Potato Chip Bag and Other Snack Bags

By Liesl Clark

Potato chip bags are something we’ve all handled and then thrown into the trash. If your conscience has you wondering if there are alternatives to sending that bag into the landfill, you’ve come to the right place.

potato chip bag, Photo © Liesl Clark

One option for diverting your snack bags from the landfill or incinerator is to start a chip bag brigade (or find an existing one in your community) through Terracycle. The bags are turned into items like reusable tote bags and if you’re done with  your tote, you can even send it back to Terracycle to be repurposed again! The trick is to collect about 8-lbs-worth of Lays’ bags and if those aren’t your favorite brand you’re a bit out of luck.

DIY Plastic-Free Potato Chips, photo Rebecca Rockefeller

Reduce Your Use:  Of course, the ultimate solution to preventing more snack bags from entering our materials economy, or landfills, is to make your own easy microwave chips using Rock Farmer’s simple method. If you want an oil-free recipe with a few more steps, give this one from theKitchn a try.

Reuse and Repurpose:

1) Use your bags as gift bags! Turn your chip bag inside out, wash it with dish soap to get rid of any grease. Dry it out. Then reuse the silvery or white side as a mylar-style gift bag. We do this all the time and reuse them over and over. We just attach some pretty ribbon like these pictured here which we found on the beach (no kidding) hanging beneath  a deflated helium balloon all twisted up in seaweed. These ribbons last forever, they’re made of plastic, and look as good as new even after years of floating in the open sea. I’ve picked up so many of them on the beach, I’ve had occasion to Freecyle a bag of them, with the caveat that the person agree to keep the ribbons on indoor gifts and not set them free with a helium balloon. When you’ve seen them wrapped around the necks of baby seals and sea turtles, you can’t help reconsider why we risk sending them into our seas via floating balloons in the first place. But I digress.

Turn a chip bag into a gift bag, Photo: Liesl Clark

2) Make a tote bag. Some chip bags have a cool vintage look to them and could make a great shoulder bag.

3) Make a gum wrapper-style chain bracelet. Remember making paper chains from gum-wrappers? If you employ the same method with chip bags and candy wrappers, you can craft some amazing things. First step is making a bracelet.

4) And when you’ve mastered the gum wrapper-style bracelet, you’re ready to move on to the purse.

5) Craftbits has a tutorial for a nice clutch.

6) Make a potato chip bag mini scrap book. At, you’ll learn how to make your own cool books that would also make excellent gifts for friends.

Mini Potato Chip Bag Scrapbook, Photo ©

7) Instructables has a tutorial for a chip bag wallet.

8) Craft a baby crinkly square to appeal to baby’s need for tactile and aural stimulation. We think a snack bag would make some good crinkly sounds for your little one.

Baby Crinkly Squares Can Be Made With Potato Chip Bags, Photo © Joy’

Remember the Sunchip compostable bags and how loud they were (95 db)? Maybe stay away from those. They’ve been discontinued, apparently, but consumers certainly had fun with the deafening chip bags. Even a Facebook group was started, called SORRY, BUT I CAN’T HEAR YOU OVER THIS SUNCHIPS BAG. We were excited to see that compostable snack bags were being tested on the market, yet when we did our own compost test of the Sunchip bags in a commercial composter for a month, the bags, surprisingly, were still intact — no decomposition visible.

9) Make an adorable robot from the silvery side of your bag.

10) Yet another Instructable. This time it’s a pencil case.

11) Cover over an old bracelet with delightful snack bag colors to make a new one!

12) Make party tassels!

Still looking for more ideas? Visit our app for great reduce, reuse, recycle ideas for just about everything. Type in your item and see what you can do with it!

Click Through for More Snack Bag Reuses at Trash Backwards

Do you have a snack bag reuse to add to the list? Please let us know in the comments below or through our add-your-idea page.

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Categories: Best of Trash Backwards, DIY, Reduce Your Use, Repurpose and Reuse, Trash Pile - All Our Stuff, Upcycle


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18 Comments on “The Potato Chip Bag and Other Snack Bags”

  1. August 16, 2012 at 9:25 am #
    I just read this today and discovered that the compostable bags and paper cups can last as long as plastic in the compost pile, and may produce more methane. 😦 Boooooo!
    Thanks for the microwave chip recipe; it may help me to free my husband from his bagged chips. Meanwhile, we can reuse the bags per your ideas! We’ve been using the wax bags from inside cereal boxes to pack our lunches and wrap our sandwiches.

  2. August 17, 2012 at 7:06 am #

    Thanks for including my bracelets! I made them for my daughter, Willow, and she ALWAYS gets compliments.
    I want to try the microwave chip recipe–I’ve never heard of that before! 🙂
    ReStitch Me

  3. September 5, 2012 at 2:12 pm #

    Thanks for linking to my Laura Scudders Retro style shoulder bag. i make a lot of these and people are always asking me to make one for them (which I rarely do lol cuz I just enjoy making them). At the moment I’m turning a splatter paint design shower curtain into a rifle bag for my daughter to carry her color guard rife in sling-back fashion under her backpack. Now that’s an interesting project! LOL

  4. November 29, 2012 at 10:48 am #

    I run a TerraCycle Chip bag brigade in Westford, Massachusetts. In less 2 1/2 years, we have upcycled over 87,000 chip bags! That is just one town! I don’t believe there are any openings currently in the chip bag brigade, but anyone who would like to start their own or contribute to an existing collection, feel free to contact me.

    • Liesl Clark
      November 29, 2012 at 12:24 pm #

      Hi Kristina! I love love love your blog. Thanks for getting in touch and for offering up your help in providing advice to anyone interested in starting a Terracycle Brigade.
      — Liesl

    • Carinya
      August 27, 2016 at 2:49 pm #

      Kristina, I just found your comment on this potato chip bag site. Are you still collecting chip bags? I had been mailing ours to a brigade in MI, but now they no longer take them. I am in Ohio and don’t know how to locate a closer one than yours, but I would be willing to mail to you.

  5. timelesslady
    January 13, 2014 at 11:33 am #

    So many outstanding ideas here…I’ll be back

  6. Brett
    August 22, 2014 at 10:04 am #

    I like all these ideas, but I have one so simple that it can catch on to the less crafty: I use them as small garbage bags. The offices I work have someone come around every day or two, emptying the trash bins and using a new plastic bag. I turn mine over (same plastic bag in it for 19 months now) and use empty chip bags for over a week. True, it doesn’t keep them out of landfills, but it keeps the other trash bags out, and reduces the production of plastic trash bags. And saves money!

  7. October 2, 2014 at 10:45 am #

    I’m making my own instant oatmeal packets for my grandchildren. Has anyone repurposed chip bags with their seal a meal? I’ve heard you can but haven’t found anyone with actual experience. I’d like to hear a success story before I start asking friends to save their chip bags for me.

  8. Angela porter
    June 12, 2016 at 2:25 pm #

    I live in Greensboro,NC. I’ve been saving alot of potato chip bags for months. Can they be recycled? I can send them to you if you like. I’ve tried contacting the city recycling can’t really get a concrete answer.


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