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Survival

Survive With…Plastic Shopping Bags

Everyone has a pile of plastic shopping bags overflowing out of a kitchen drawer or pantry just taking up space. So, make a survival tool out of ‘em – specifically, a strong, durable waterproof rope, which you can braid without any tools. All you need is as many plastic bags as you can get your hands on and a pair of scissors.

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Lay the bags flat with handles flat on the sides.

Lay the bags flat with handles flat on the sides.

Using scissors, bisect the bags vertically down the middle.

Using scissors, bisect the bags vertically down the middle.

You should end up with two piles of half-bags.

You should end up with two piles of half-bags.

Now begin connecting half-bags to make strands. Open one and poke a hole near the bottom seam on the side of the half-bag.

Now begin connecting half-bags to make strands. Open one and poke a hole near the bottom seam on the side of the half-bag.

Prep six half-bags this way.

Prep six half-bags this way.

Now begin connecting half-bags to make strands. Open one and poke a hole near the bottom seam on the side of the half-bag.

Now begin connecting half-bags to make strands. Open one and poke a hole near the bottom seam on the side of the half-bag.

Then feed the body of bag A through its own handle and pull tight to girth hitch it.

Then feed the body of bag A through its own handle and pull tight to girth hitch it.

Do this six times to make one strand. Once you’ve made two strands of six, you’re ready to braid.

Do this six times to make one strand. Once you’ve made two strands of six, you’re ready to braid.

Find something sturdy to secure your strands, like a tree or even your own foot.  Wrap the strands around so you hold two strands in each hand.…

Find something sturdy to secure your strands, like a tree or even your own foot. Wrap the strands around so you hold two strands in each hand. Stagger each strand so the knots don’t line up and gum up your braid.

Folks with daughters will find the braiding easy; for others, it’s a bit tricky. The pattern goes like this:

Folks with daughters will find the braiding easy; for others, it’s a bit tricky. The pattern goes like this:

In your right hand, fold the right strand over left.

In your right hand, fold the right strand over left.

In your left hand, fold the right over left.

In your left hand, fold the right over left.

Now with the two middle strands, fold left over right.

Now with the two middle strands, fold left over right.

Repeat to build your rope. When you run out of strand, splice in more half-bags by using the same method you used to assemble whole strands (girth…

Repeat to build your rope. When you run out of strand, splice in more half-bags by using the same method you used to assemble whole strands (girth hitching).

Once complete, your plastic bag rope should be strong enough to easily hold your own body weight (though plastic will degrade over time when exposed…

Once complete, your plastic bag rope should be strong enough to easily hold your own body weight (though plastic will degrade over time when exposed to sunlight).

We don’t recommend rappelling with it, but if you do let us know how it goes.

We don’t recommend rappelling with it, but if you do let us know how it goes.