20 Emergency Uses For Garbage Bags

20-uses-garbage-bagsWith the onset of winter, many folks will be heading out into nature for recreation.  My husband and I are already planning a number of outings – one in the mountains, and the other in the high desert.

Most people will carry some sort of emergency gear in a small backpack or fanny pack just in case something unexpected occurs.  One thing that should be included in every pack is one or more heavy-duty garbage bags.

The more the better!  Opt for the ones without any scents or pesticides added.  Pick the 3 mil thickness,”contractor bags” as opposed to the regular ones.  They’re any where from 50% to 100% thicker than the regular ones we use at home.  Also, the orange ones are much easier seen by rescuers if you’re lost.  Yes, they’re a bit more expensive.  Don’t scrimp when it comes to your safety!

These everyday items can provide you with at least 20 different uses when survival matters. Plus, they require so little space and hardly weigh a thing, so it’s easy to carry many of them with you all at once.

1. Picking up Garbage

This one’s a no-brainer, but it’s still important in a survival situation. If you want to make sure you’re not leaving any traces, you don’t want byproducts of your survival recording a path. Keep a garbage bag handy until you have an opportunity to dispose of it.

2. Signaling for Help

Of course, sometimes you really want to be noticed. If you’re stranded, a garbage bag can be a great way to alert someone of your whereabouts.

3. Shelter from Rain

Just one garbage bag can go a long way toward keeping you safe and comfortable at night. However, with many available, you can set up a pretty decent tent.

4. Bedding

You can also use garbage bags for bedding. Collect foliage and you’ll have a pillow and/or makeshift mattress below you while you sleep. It will also help to separate you from a cold or wet ground.

5. Warm Jacket

A garbage bag can also be manipulated into a warm jacket. As a jacket, for example, it leaves plenty of space to stuff in leaves and other foliage to insulate your body heat.

6. Rain Suit

If it begins to rain, cut holes in the top and sides of your garbage bag and pull it over your head like a poncho to keep the clothes underneath it nice and dry.

From personal experience, I can also tell you that in this configuration works great as bibs at events such as charity crab feeds.  I’m just sayin’…


7. Collect Rain Water

As most survivalists know, drinking water isn’t always abundant in dire situations. You can use your garbage bag as a clean way to catch rain water directly or utilize it as a liner for a bucket, cup, bottle, or whatever else you have on hand.

8. Melt Snow

If you’re in a colder climate without rain, you can put snow in the bag and let the sun melt it for you to gain drinking water that way.

9. Distill Water

With a little help from the sun, you can use garbage bags as solar still to purify water.

10. Protect Food

If you are able to find or collect food, you don’t want bugs or vermin getting to it. Garbage bags can help keep your precious food supply safe.

11. Carry Supplies

Being bags, they’re also great for moving supplies. Whether it’s firewood, food or countless other objects, a garbage bag will make transportation much easier and allow you to carry more.

12. Shelter from the Sun

During the day, you run the risk of getting overexposed to sun, depending on where you are. Garbage bags can help block its rays from getting to your skin.

13. Tourniquet

With enough garbage bags tied nice and tight, you could use them for a tourniquet if an injury gets really bad.

14. Bandages

Even with less serious injuries, you still don’t want them getting infected or otherwise made worse. Tie or tape a garbage bag – or strips cut from one – over the injury as a makeshift bandage.

15. Cold Compress

If you hurt yourself in a cold environment, fill a garbage bag with some snow and then tie it around the injury. This way you can keep moving while numbing the pain. It’s also a helpful way to address the injury without having to sit in snow for a prolonged period of time.

16. Trail Marker

Simply rip or cut a piece of the garbage bag off and tie it around a branch. With plenty of bag to use, you can leave trail markers to help others find you.

17. Shoe Covers

Your shoes stand a better chance of surviving the elements if you use garbage bags like galoshes.

18. Waste Storage

Depending on your conditions, you may need to keep waste products separated from you or your group, making garbage bags quite useful.

19. Plates

If you come across food and want a clean place to eat it in the wilderness, lay out a garbage bag and you can set your food down without concern.

20. A Shower

Fill a trash bag with water then either hold it over yourself or tie it to a tree branch before poking a single hole for a makeshift shower.  If you’ve opted for the black bags, set them in the sun first, and you can get a hot (or at least warm) shower.


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