There’s a Bag for That

Single-use? Not a chance! Dip into our bag of tricks for using that “disposable” plastic stuff again and again.

By Teddy Willson

Plastic bag–Household Hero

The bottomless bag of bags under your kitchen sink? It’s time for a new home–in your closet! Scrunch up the bags and stuff them into boots and handbags to help hold their shape. Outside: deter frost by tightly tying bags over your car’s side mirrors and windshield wipers (just remember to remove them when you hit the gas). And if you’re tackling a doozy of a paint project that’ll span a couple of days, you don’t have to clean your wet brush each day. Just stow it in a grocery or zip-top bag and keep it in the fridge to help prevent the paint from drying.

Produce bag–Scrubber Sponge

You know the netted bags that hold onions, oranges, and other produce? Instead of ruining another dish sponge for your grimiest chores, give these bags a second life as a scrubber. Smooth them out and make a stack of about four, then fold them into a rectangle. Wrap another netted bag around the rectangle and thread a piece of yarn along the edges to hold the makeshift sponge together. If you only have one bag on hand, cut it into a rectangle, fold it to your desired size, and secure a zip tie to the middle, creating a bow-tie shape. Squirt on some cleaner and have at that soap-scummed bathtub!

Padded Envelope–Sideline Seat

If your two-day shipping habit has left you with a pile of bubble-lined envelopes, don’t hoard them for a move or worse, doom them to the dump. Bring them along to your kid’s next sporting event as lightweight stadium seats. Perfect for rain-or-shine matches, the plastic envelopes can be wiped dry and tossed  into the car for many more uses. Play ball!

Produce Bag–Flower Arranger

Those netted produce bags can also be turned into a kind of flower frog, the tool florists use to hold arrangements in place. Set the mesh over a vase and cut out a circle, leaving about half an inch of overhang. Secure it with a rubber band. Add stems to the netting, including cascading greens (like string of pearls or coral fountain) around the edges to hide the rubber band. Voila–you have a nifty little grid to stick stems into, creating a bouquet that will impress even your most Pinteresty friends.

Resealable Bag–Garden Helper

Rather than buying outdoor-grade garbage bags for yard work, try reusing resealable food packaging, like your dog’s kibble bags. Rake leaves right into them before emptying at the dump. You can also use the thick zip-top bags to dispose of thorny weeds, which you may not want in your compost bin.

Fitness

Kirsten Ferguson

Kirsten worked with the NFL for seven years before becoming a Peloton Instructor and certified cycling and run coach. In her free time, she likes to work out with her two daughters.

Best Buds

“Whether I am out for a run, doing burpees, or dancing around my house while making a playlist for a class, these earbuds don’t move,” Kirsten says.

To Buy: Beats Fit Pro, $200; beats by dre

Put a Ring On It

this discreet sleep and activity tracker wraps around your finger. “It’s really comfortable to wear, and it’s given me some interesting insights ito how I can improve my output by getting proper sleep,” Kirsten says.

To Buy: Oura Ring Generation 3, from $299; Oura

Matcha Mixer

“This mixer helps me stir my matcha but also gives me that foamy latte I love so much without having to run to a coffee shop,” she says.

To Buy: Modern Matcha Starter Set, $25; jade leaf matcha

Family Fitness

When it’s raining or the kids are off from school Kirsten turns to the Fit Family classes on this app. “My daugthers love music, and we do something active and fun together as a family!”

To Buy: Peloton App, $13 per month; Peloton

Fit Fryer

As a mom on the go, Kirsten frequently turns to her air fryer for quick meals. “I typically throw chicken tenders in there, and I have dinner for my kids and lunch for the lunch box the next day.”

To Buy: Instant Vortex Plus ClearCook + OdorErase (6qt) Air Fryer, $160; Williams Sonoma

Organizing

Pia Thompson

The lawyer turned professional organizer launched her KonMari-based company, Sweet Digs, in 2020. She’s all about tidying up as self-care.

Hanging Rack

“Most people don’t need the amount of long hanging space they have in a closet,” Pia says. “This doubles the storage in your closet in a snap.”

To Buy: Arabella Double Closet Rod, $20; Wayfair

Sock Saver

“We’ve all been a victim of a lost sock,” Pia says. With this hanger, you can wash, dry, and store your socks together, so you never have to search for a mate again.

To Buy: Sockdock Laundry Hanger, $25; Amazon

Styling Storage

Blow-dryers and curling irons can be tricky to store. An over-the-door bin keeps them in line and helps wrangle cords.

To Buy: Over the Cabinet Door Hair Styling Tool Storage, $22.50; m Design

Bottle Holder

“This makes use of the vertical space often left untouched in a cabinet and allows you to grab what you need fast,” Pia says.

To Buy: UpSpace Water Bottle and Travel Mug Organizer, $25; youCopia

Car Organizer

A foldable box with pockets can help corral junk in the trunk, then be discreetly tucked away when not in use.

To Buy: Large Trunk Organizer, $30; honey-can-do

Battery Pack

Got a box full of batteries rolling around? Never quite sure when you need to restock those AAs? This sectioned keeper can store 93 batteries–and test them too!

To Buy: The Battery Organizer and Tester, $20; Amazon

Cleaning

Brandon Peshek

Brandon is a third-generation cleaning pro whose instructional videos on how to clean pretty much anything have racked up 1.3 million followers on TikTok.

Smiley Sponge

“This is my favorite of the Scrub Daddy sponges,” Brandon says. “The foam and flexible texture help you clean just about any surface.”

To Buy: Scrub Mommy Sponges, $4 each; Scrub Daddy

Scrub Down

Brandon uses this brush to clean tile, grout, cement, and even the occasional carpet.

To Buy: 18V One+ Power Scrubber, $79; Ryobi Tools

Carpet Cleaner

“This is the best at-home spot cleaner I’ve ever used,” he says. “For pet messes and kid spills and everything in between, it’s my go-to.”

To Buy: CleanSlate Spot Cleaner, $130; Hoover

Carpet Rake

This tool is oddly satisfying to use. “It’s great for removing hair–pet or human–loosening up dirt before vacuuming and giving that finishing touch after carpet cleaning,” he says.

To Buy: Westpak 18-inch Carpet Rake, $29; encap store

Pet-Hair Brush

Use the rubber blade to pull fur from your car, couch, or bed. “Pet hair comes with my job, and this is nice and compact,” Brandon says.

To Buy: Mini Pet Hair Detailer, $15; Chewy

Hair

Lacy Redway

Lacy does hair for an impressive roster of clients (Priyanca Chopra Jonas and Serena and Venus Williams, for starters). She’s focused on changing the narrative for women and people of color in the beauty industry.

Dewy Duo

Lacy uses the highlighter on her cheekbones and in the corners of her eyes. “It really brightens up the face and adds sucha a nice touch to your overall look,” she says.

To Buy: Skin Fetish: Highlighter + Balm Duo, $50; Pat McGrath

Silk Pillowcase

Cotton cases can dry out your hair, causing breakage. Silk puts that issue to rest.

To Buy: Slip Silk Pillowcase, $89; Sephora

Frizz Fixer

“This helps me relax unwanted frizz and moisture strands,” Lacy says. “Plus, it helps prevent hair swelling in humidity.”

To Buy: Nexxus Ultralight Smooth Frizz Defy Cream Serum, $15; Target

Parenting

Grace Bastidas

Grace is the editor in chief of Parents and cohost of That New Mom Life podcast.

First Aid Kit

“Before you embark on your next trip, pack this compact kit and be prepared for any cuts or scrapes along the way,” Grace says. It comes with cute fabric bandages, ointments, and antiseptic wipes.

To Buy: Welly Expanded First Aid Kit, $29; Target

Baby Brush

“This triple-angle toothbrush has soft bristles that clean all sides of the teeth at once,” Grace says. It’s great for toddlers.

To Buy: FridaBaby Triple-Angle Toothhugger, $8; Amazon

Toasty Stuffy

This cuddly buddy was made for sick days. It’s filled with specially engineered corn that holds cool or warm temperatures.

To Buy: Zoo Animal, $20; http://thermalaidproducts.com

Fresh Fanny Pack

Grace loves this gender-neutral diaper bag with a changing pad and a waterproof pocket for wipes. It keeps your hands free for, you know, the baby.

To Buy: Vegan Leather Bag, $98; http://kiboubag.com

Cooking

Vallery Lomas

Vallery won the third season of The Great American Baking Show. Her book, Life is What You Bake It, is packed with sweet recipes, inspired by her Louisiana roots.

King Pin

“This makes rolling out piecrust and cookie dough really easy,” Vallery says. “and takes the guesswork out of how thick a quarter or eighth of an inch is.”

To Buy: Adjustable Rolling Pin, $25; http://us.josephjoseph.com

Baking Spices

This Vietnamese cinnamon is “naturally sweet and tastes like Red Hots!” Vallery says.

To Buy: Royal Cinnamon, $9 for 18 oz.; http://burlapandbarrel.com

Ring Dish

Vallery drops her jewelry in this ring holder before getting her haneds dirty kneading dough or washing dishes.

To Buy: Gold Swiss Dot Scallop Ring Dish, $15; http://coton-colors.com

Spice Grinder

“It has a small-enough blade to grind the tiniest peppercorns,” she says. You can also use it to make your own nut flours.

To Buy: Cuisinart Spice & Nut Grinder, $40; William Sonoma

Travel

Nastasia Yakoub

Born into a strict Middle Eastern Chaldean family, Nastasia broke barriers in 2014 when she created Dame Traveler, a community for female travelers. She’s been to more than 65 countries, photographing her adventures and sharing tips and recommendations along the way.

Packable Brush

This brush was designed to protect hair from breakge, but it’s also superlight, making it the ideal on-the-go styling tool.

To Buy: Manta Healthy Hairbrush, $30; Anthropologie

Safety Alarm

This personal alarm hooks to your key chain and has a powerful siren and flashing light.

To Buy: Birdie, $30; http://shesbirdie.com

Travel Charger

“The last thing you need is to be stuck with a dead phone, especially if you want to take photos or videos,” Nastasia says. She never leaves hoe without this charger.

To Buy: Anker PowerCore II Portable Charger, $69; Amazon

Resusable Pouches

“I pack everything form airplane snacks to small toiletries in these instead of using plastic bags,” Nastasia says.

To Buy: Zip Top Reusable Silicone Food Storage Bags, $71 for 8; Amazon

Beautiful Buds

Block out the crying baby o rthe person snoring next to you with a pair of surprisingly cute earplugs that look nothing like those cut-rate foam ones.

To Buy: Experience Earplugs, $30; http://us.loopearplugs.com

Seat Cover

How many butts were in your chair before you? “This seat cover leaves your clothes fresh and helps keep germs at bay,” Nastasia says.

To Buy: Fits Everywhere Nice Seat, $59; Nice Seats

Entertaining

Beau Ciolino & Matt Armato

The couple cover all things entertaining, DIY, and decor on Instagram and in their new book, Housewarming.

Wine Coaster

“This keeps the bottle’s temperature just right and helps prevent condesation marks on your table,” Matt says.

To Buy: Marble Wine Bottle Coasters, $19.50 each; Pottery Barn

Stackable Glasses

These come in mixed colors so everone can ID their own cup.

To Buy: Drinking Glasses, $50 for 4; http://fromyourplace.com

Cheese Markers

“No need to memorize fancy cheese names!” Beau says. These will save you from repeating “Gorgonzola” to every guest.

To Buy: Chalkboard Cheese Markers, $15 for 6; Crate and Barrel