How to repurpose paper bags

It is more important now than ever for people to be more conscious about their waste production and to research ways in which they can reduce their waste. Many businesses have made a switch from plastic to paper bags to prevent plastic waste which can take hundreds of years to breakdown.

Even though this change can be viewed as positive, many people are now finding themselves acquiring a collection of paper bags. So what ways can you reuse paper bags instead of throwing them straight into the recycling bin?


Most paper bags are compostable, meaning that they can be broken down by microorganisms and be used to help fertilise soil to encourage the growth of plants in your garden. Ripping up the paper bag into small pieces and making them damp before adding to your compost heap will help to kick start the process and shorten the time that it takes to be broken down.

Gift wrap

If you have some particularly big paper bags then these can be used for eco friendly gift wrap. A lot of wrapping paper has plastic elements added meaning that it is not compostable or recyclable, by using paper bags as gift wrap you are helping to reduce consumption of the non-eco friendly alternative. Gift wrap can easily be made by cutting off any handles and seams.


Similarly to gift wrap, leftover paper bags can be made into envelopes to send handmade cards or cards that you have lost envelopes for. Templates can easily be found online and using paper bags can add a rustic and handmade feel for whoever you are sending them to.

Scrap paper

Paper bags can easily be cut into any size sheet of paper (depending on the size of the bag). If you have children this paper can then be used for arts and crafts instead of having to purchase the paper and card, helping to save you money. Similarly you could even create a makeshift notebook by binding or stapling a collection of sheets together to then take on the go or leave at home. Again, this could save you money on purchasing a notebook from a shop.


If you are posting any fragile items then you will want some padding in your parcel to prevent any damages or breakages. Paper bags can be used whole or cut up to create a sturdy protective layer for your delicate items by creating a cushioning in any spare space in the parcel. This is a much more eco-friendly alternative to using plastic options such as bubble wrap, your recipient will also be able to keep it for use for their own packages or add to their compost. 

Book coverings

Another way to repurpose a paper bag is to use them as a protective layer for books, whether that be reading books or children’s textbooks. It can be a way of protecting the longevity and condition of the books by preventing water damage, rips and tears. This can also be a fun activity for children as they can decorate their own reading or textbook covers.

Although using paper bags may seem like a more eco-friendly option to plastic bags, in order to have the most positive impact they should be reused as many times as possible before being recycled. These ideas will help you to repurpose your paper bags and increase their life span before being recycled.