When is a trash bag not a trash bag? When we look at it as a raw material, one that can be reshaped, repurposed and reimagined.
After that, a trash bag is the solution to a problem around the house, in the great outdoors and in preparations made today to survive the uncertainties of tomorrow.
The main distinction between types and makes of trash bags is the thickness of the material. Trash bag thickness is measured in mils. Cheaper bags will have walls 1 mil thick or thinner.
That’s fine for getting to the garbage can, but not much more. For a better raw material, look for a minimum of 2 mil. The best plastic material is 3 mils thick. These trash bags are often marketed as contractor bags. They can stand up to heavy workloads, resist punctures and last far longer.
Here are a variety of uses for garbage bags when you’re outdoors:
Mark a trail. Simply cut a trash bag into strips and tie them onto tree branches or bushes at eye level. This creates a simple way for you to navigate your way back through thick vegetation. White bags work best. Remember, leave no trace behind. Remove your markers on the way out.
Clean clothes. When camping, wash clothes in a bag filled with water. Add soap, agitate, empty and add clean water to rinse.
Contain spills. Line your backpack with a trash bag to keep contents waterproof and contain spills.
Take a shower. Fill a black trash bag with water and hang it in the sunlight for a few hours. Once the water is warm, poke holes in the bottom of the bag and enjoy a warm shower.
Shoe covers. Open a trash bag, step inside and tie or secure with duct tape to keep rain and snow at bay. Great when crossing a shallow stream or marshy ground.
Following are a couple of uses for garbage bags when you’re indoors:
Control closet clutter. Attach a small garbage bag to a hanger to create storage for small, loose items like socks or gloves. Group clothes that are out of season on hangers, then bag them from underneath.
Garment guard. Garbage bags can quickly be turned into garment bags with a well placed hole at the center of the bottom seam for the top of a hanger to emerge. A great way to get a dance recital costume safely home in the rain.
Below are some uses for garbage bags when you’re in survival mode:
Rain gear. Garbage bags make great improvised rain gear. Cut holes for your head and arms so you can continue to work. If you are hunkering down to shelter from the elements, the fewer holes the better.
Water collector. Use a trash bag to collect condensed water. Hang your bag in a bush, tree or a stand you create from debris to use as a water catch basin for rain or snow. You can also gather water from a river or lake to haul to a separate location. You can then boil, douse a fire or use the water you collected to clean game. Place a clear bag over green vegetation, and water will evaporate from the green material and collect in the bag.
Bug out. In an urban survival situation, trash bags make a great bug-out bag for clothes, food and supplies. In the wild, it’s a great carrier for wild edibles, harvested game and fire-starting materials. A clear bag lets you easily see and find what you need.
Warm and dry. Use a bag to separate your body or gear from the moisture and debris on the ground. Upgrade by filling the garbage bag with leaves, cattail heads or other soft debris for more insulation and cushioning. Body heat will be captured in the forest debris, within the bag. If it is not raining, poke some holes in the bag for moisture to escape. Otherwise, the condensation will remain in the bag and all the contents, including you, will get wet. If temperatures are low, tape trash bags around your legs, arms and torso for makeshift thermal underwear that will help retain your body heat.
And don’t forget, regardless of whether you are indoors or outdoors, garbage bags are also good for their original purpose – garbage collection.