Urban Survival: The Power of Plastic Bags

Urban Survival: The Power of Plastic Bags

Posted on September 29th, 2023

Plastic grocery bags, often criticized for their negative environmental impact, can actually be a valuable asset in a survival situation. While they may not degrade easily, they have numerous practical uses that can potentially save your life. Next time you're restocking your Go-bag, don't hesitate to grab those plastic bags and add them to your survival kit. Despite their lightweight and compact nature, they can serve a variety of purposes, from creating ropes to keeping your gear dry. In this blog post, we will explore 21 survival uses for plastic bags, highlighting their versatility and importance in urban survival scenarios.

Urban Survival: The Versatility of Plastic Grocery Bags 

In urban survival situations, it's essential to be prepared with versatile tools that can come in handy in various scenarios. One such item that often gets overlooked is the humble plastic grocery bag. These lightweight and space-saving bags can serve a multitude of purposes and prove to be valuable additions to your urban survival kit.

Photo by Christopher Vega on Unsplash

Lightweight and Space-Saving

One of the major advantages of plastic grocery bags is their lightweight nature. When you're on the go and need to carry essential items without adding much weight to your bag or backpack, these bags are a perfect choice. They are incredibly lightweight, allowing you to pack several of them without burdening yourself.

Not only are plastic grocery bags lightweight, but they are also highly space-saving. Being thin and foldable, they hardly take up any room in your urban survival kit. You can easily store multiple bags in a small compartment or even in your pocket. This ensures that you have an ample supply of bags without sacrificing space for other essential items.

Versatility in Urban Survival

Plastic grocery bags offer a surprising level of versatility in urban survival situations. Here are some of the ways you can utilize them:

  1. Waterproofing: Plastic bags can act as an excellent waterproof layer to protect your belongings from rain or water. Whether it's your electronics, documents, or spare clothing, placing them inside a sealed plastic bag ensures they stay dry and unaffected.

Plastic Bottles and Eco Bags in Container (Photo by Polina Tankilevitch)

  1. Storage: Plastic bags can serve as makeshift storage containers, allowing you to organize and compartmentalize items in your survival kit. From food to first aid supplies, you can use these bags to keep everything organized and easily accessible.
  2. Improvised Shelter: In situations where you need to create a temporary shelter, plastic bags can be repurposed as a waterproof covering. By tying them together or securing them over a frame, you can create a basic shelter to protect yourself from the elements.
  3. Fire Starting: Plastic bags, when twisted and tied into a knot, can be used as an effective fire starting material. By creating a tight bundle and integrating it into your fire-starting strategy, you can increase the chances of igniting a flame, especially in damp conditions.

Remember, plastic grocery bags should be used responsibly and disposed of properly after use. While they offer convenience and versatility, it's important to be mindful of their environmental impact. Consider using reusable bags whenever possible to reduce waste.

In conclusion, plastic grocery bags may seem unassuming, but their versatility and practicality make them an excellent addition to your urban survival kit. From providing waterproofing to serving as makeshift storage or shelter, these lightweight and space-saving bags can prove to be invaluable in various urban survival situations. So, don't underestimate the power of the plastic bag when it comes to urban survival preparedness.

Stay tuned for the next section where we'll explore another essential aspect of urban survival.

21 Survival Uses for Plastic Bags

Plastic bags, often criticized for their environmental impact, can actually serve a multitude of survival purposes. In a survival scenario, these lightweight and versatile bags can be incredibly valuable. Here are 21 survival uses for plastic bags:

Make Ropes

Tie several plastic bags together to create a strong and durable rope. This rope can be used for various purposes such as pulling gear, securing items, or even hanging clothes to dry. Consider braiding multiple bags together to make a thicker and more resilient rope.


In a room or tent, plastic bags can provide insulation. Simply stuff the bags with wadded up newspaper or leaves, and use duct tape to secure them to the walls. This makeshift insulation can help retain heat and keep you warm in cold environments.

Keep Your Feet Dry

When faced with wet conditions, protect your feet by covering your shoes with plastic bags. This helps to keep your feet dry and prevent discomfort while walking in rain or snow. Use duct tape to secure the bags around your ankles for a snug fit.

Make a Sling

In the absence of a proper sling, plastic bags can be tied together to create a makeshift sling for someone with a broken arm. This temporary solution can provide support until medical attention is available.

Mark a Trail

When exploring unfamiliar terrain or marking a trail for others to follow, plastic bags can be a useful tool. Simply tie them to trees or other visible landmarks, ensuring each bag is within sight of the last one. This helps prevent getting lost and aids navigation.

Keep Your Gear Dry

Protect your valuable gear from water damage by storing them in plastic bags. Whether you're trekking in the rain or crossing a river, enclosing your gear in plastic bags can create a waterproof barrier and safeguard your equipment.

Carry Water

In situations where water sources are scarce, plastic bags can be utilized to carry water. Double or triple bagging ensures a more secure seal. Collect water from a lake or stream by submerging the bag, filling it, and sealing it tightly.

Collect Rainwater

During rainfall, strategically positioning plastic bags can help collect and store rainwater for future use. Hang the bags and create a funnel-like arrangement to maximize water capture. This provides a valuable source of potable water in emergency situations.

Create a Solar Still

Plastic bags can be part of a solar still setup to extract drinking water from non-potable sources. By placing vegetation or moist soil in a hole, covering it with a plastic bag, and using a small rock to create a depression, condensation forms and collects as drinkable water.

Create a Makeshift Shower

When access to traditional bathing facilities is limited, plastic bags can be transformed into a simple shower. Fill the bag with water, poke small holes in the bottom, and suspend it from a branch or elevated surface. Enjoy a makeshift shower by squeezing the bag gently.

Send a Message

You've noticed how you can write on a clear plastic bag with a pen or a marker. You can leverage this to leave messages in awkward situations like when it's raining and when you want a note that can be tied on, removed and re-tied in a different location if need be. Beats paper because it is less fragile and more durable.

Emergency Poncho

When caught in unexpected rain, a plastic bag can be fashioned into an emergency poncho. Cut holes for your head and arms, and wear the bag as a protective covering to shield yourself from the elements.

Emergency Shelter

In urgent situations where shelter is necessary, plastic bags can be used to construct a rudimentary shelter. Combine multiple bags to create a tarp-like covering, securing them with ropes or branches. This temporary shelter offers protection from wind and rain.

Waterproof Fire Starter

To ensure a reliable fire-starting method, store dry tinder and kindling in sealed plastic bags. The bags act as a waterproof container, keeping the fire-starting materials dry and readily available in wet conditions.

Protect Valuables

When on the move or in adverse weather, protect your valuables by placing them inside sealed plastic bags. This safeguards electronic devices, documents, or other important items from water damage or harsh environmental conditions.

Emergency Toilet

In situations where a proper toilet is inaccessible, plastic bags can be used as a makeshift toilet. Line a bucket or hole with a bag , ensuring it is securely held in place. After use, tie the bag tightly and dispose of it responsibly.

Fishing Net

When stranded near water bodies and in need of food, plastic bags can be transformed into a makeshift fishing net. Tie the bags together to create a net-like structure, (or simply cut small holes in it if you have fairly sturdy plastic bags) and use it to catch fish or other small aquatic creatures.

Trash Disposal

Maintaining cleanliness and hygiene is crucial in survival scenarios. Plastic bags can serve as portable trash bags, helping to collect and dispose of waste properly. This prevents contamination and the attraction of unwanted wildlife.

Emergency Signaling

In emergency situations, plastic bags can be used to attract attention and signal for help. With its reflective surface, waving a bag in sunlight or attaching it to a stick to create a flag can aid rescuers in spotting your location.

Plant Protection

Shield young plants from harsh weather conditions or pests by covering them with plastic bags. This makeshift greenhouse provides temporary protection while allowing sunlight and moisture to reach the plants.

Emergency Ice Pack

Injuries or heat-related illnesses can be alleviated with an impromptu ice pack made from a plastic bag. Fill the bag with ice or cold water, seal it tightly, and apply it to the affected area for temporary relief.

Remember, in a survival situation, adaptability is crucial. Plastic bags may seem insignificant, but their versatility can prove invaluable. By repurposing these common items, you can enhance your chances of survival in various scenarios.

Stylish various eyeglasses for vision correction (Photo by Karolina Grabowska)


In conclusion, carrying a plastic bag with you in urban survival situations can prove to be an incredibly useful tool. Its versatility knows no bounds, as it can serve as a makeshift raincoat, a container for gathering water or storing supplies, and even as a temporary shelter. The lightweight and compact nature of a plastic bag makes it easily portable, allowing you to have it on hand at all times without adding unnecessary weight to your load. Additionally, the cost-effectiveness of plastic bags makes them an accessible and practical option for everyone. So, don't underestimate the power of this simple yet valuable item in your urban survival toolkit. Always remember to carry a plastic bag with you, and you'll be better prepared to tackle unexpected challenges in any urban environment.

And, as always: Stay Ready. Be Prepared. For Life.

Send a Message

Drop us a message below. Our team at Top Survival Supplies is always eager to connect with fellow adventurers and survival enthusiasts. Let's brave the wilderness together!