What To Do With Old Tote Bags


Do you have so many old tote bags lying around that you don’t know what to do with them? Are they simply catching dust, sitting in your ‘bag of bags’ just waiting to be used? Not to worry, because there are plenty of things you can do to get use out of your old tote bags - some of which you might not have ever thought of! 

6 things you can do with old tote bags:

  1. Use them as storage around your home
  2. Use them in your plant nursery
  3. Use them as gift bags 
  4. Donate to local charities
  5. Use them to hold first aid kits
  6. Send them off for recycling

1. Use as Storage Around Your Home

Before you buy another box or basket, consider using one of your old tote bags first. Whether you’re storing unused clothes, toys or books, tote bags are a great way to hold household items without spending unnecessary money on other storage options (and they will probably take up less space too!). 

what to do with old tote bags

Our totes measure 38cm (W) X 43cm (H) allowing you to pack lots in there, and their long 63cm canvas tape handles make them easy to get down from high storage units or out from under the bed.

2. Use in Your Plant Nursery

If you own a plant nursery, another great way to get creative with your old tote bags is to use them for planting young trees and other plants. This will save you having to buy nursery bowls or plastic bags and can serve as a fantastic upside-down planter

How To Use A Tote Bag As An Upside-Down Planter:

Fill it up with sand and manure, hang in its corner, and slit the bottom a little open where the root can fit. Pop in your plant, water it, and you have your upside-down planter!

3. Use as Gift Bags 

Next time you give someone a gift or take food to friends and family, use your old tote bags to pack the items instead of buying a gift bag. 

what to do with an old tote bag

Our totes are quality, sturdy bags made from thick cotton which can hold pretty much anything, so you don’t have to worry about the bag splitting.

4. Donate to Local Charities

Charity shops provide a sustainable and ethical option when people wish to dispose of unwanted goods. As long as your totes are in reasonably good condition, you can take them to a local charity shop yourself. Charities like Oxfam, Save The Children, Barnado’s and Cancer Research have chains of high street shops.

As well as helping incredible charities raise money, donating to charity shops helps to reduce waste that ends up in landfill by boosting re-use and recycling. In 2018/19, 339,000 tonnes of textiles alone were kept out of landfill as a result of UK charity retail. 

5. Assemble a First Aid Kit for Your Car

Every car needs a first aid kit incase of an emergency, and what better way to store it than in your old tote bag. Pop the essentials such as painkillers, bandages, cold packs, first aid cream and other first aid supplies in your tote and keep it in the boot of your car. Hopefully you won’t need to use it, but it's always better to be safe! 

6. Send For Recycling 

If you’ve read all 5 points and you still don’t fancy reusing your old tote bags, the best option is to send them off for recycling.

You can recycle your old totes by taking them to a textile bank or recycling centre - just make sure they accept the materials your totes are made from. Textile banks are provided by charities such as Oxfam, The Salvation Amy and Scope, which you can typically find at supermarkets. 


We are Tom's Totes. Our mission is to make plastic bags completely out of fashion, and to make sustainable lifestyle choices stylish. Support independent artists and join our mission to ditch plastic with our collection of biodegradable tote bags, prints and paint kits online. For more top tote tips, check out our blog and news page