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Upcycle DIY: Plastic Bag to Stuff Sack

Posted by Anna Roth at Dec 06, 2016 03:50 PM |

Try this fun project with your kids! Use cracker, cereal, or candy bags and some old shoelaces to create bags that are great for hiking excursions.

Looking to reduce your family's carbon footprint and save some cash? Reusing plastic can actually be a good solution. Since it's easy to clean and durable, it's a great material for hiking gear. Waterproof, versatile and light, it's an inexpensive alternative to more specialized products. Plus, you get bonus points from the earth when you re-use plastic bags rather than buy new.

We asked outdoor enthusiast Elizabeth Humphrey how she infuses new life into plastic bags that formerly housed everything from marshmallows to Wheat Thins to breakfast cereal. As a Teaching Artist at Seattle Art Museum, she's been working with youth for years, encouraging them to think creatively and approach everyday objects with new eyes.

This fast project does just that. Kids can easily make them, giving your family a handy way to keep your lunch or first aid kit dry in your pack. Plus, they double as fun gift bags for the holidays. Humphrey can testify to the convenience of these projects.

"Kids (and adults!) will look forward to using this handy addition to the next day hike or backpacking trip."

Making them with your children can also be a great way for them to feel more engaged in preparing for the hike. So give it a try. The instructions and photos below are all courtesy Elizabeth Humphrey.

Materials Needed

  • Clean empty plastic or foil bag. Good options include cereal bags, cracker bags, or candy bags. Use your imagination and get creative!
  • Scissors
  • Ruler
  • Hole Punch
  • Old shoe or boot lace

Materials for upcycling bag elizabeth humphrey
What you'll need for upcycling bags. Photo courtesy Elizabeth Humphrey.


1. Cut open end of bag straight across to create a smooth edge. Fold a “cuff” and using a ruler, punch two holes one inch apart near the open end of the bag. The holes should be straddling the center of the bags vertical fold or seam.

Cut and holepunched bag elizabeth humphrey

2. Open the “cuff” and flatten the bag out. The holes you just punched should be on top of each other. Now, punch four holes spaced evenly along each side, aligning holes along the way.

holepunched bag elizabeth humphrey

3. Weave a shoelace through holes starting at one end of the series of holes and weaving in and out as shown.

laced DIY bag elizabeth humphrey

4. Fold the cuff back down. The lace should now be covered up, except for the end, which is where the lace ends can be seen. Laces can be to one side for cinching or either side for cinching and tying. Cut or knot the shoelace if desired. Now load up your lunch, snacks or extra clothes before hitting the trail!

final bags elizabeth humphrey

Have some DIY projects or frugal hiking tips from your family? Tell us about them in the comments below! Then, take a look at hiking gear that WTA staffers swear by -- some of us have had the same piece of gear for decades!