Top survival uses for garbage bags

When disaster strikes and necessary supplies become limited, you’ll be forced to turn to the ordinary items around your home to repurpose for a variety of different uses to make your survival efforts easier.



One of the most versatile items that you should already have in your home right now is the simple garbage bag. This is not an item that you want to overlook as it will prove to be every useful for you in any survival or catastrophic scenario.

Here are the top ten survival uses for garbage bags:


Emergency Poncho

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Keeping yourself dry is necessary for both extending the life of your clothes and to prevent hypothermia. It’s possible to get hypothermia even during the warm summer months if it’s raining outside and your clothes stick to your skin (especially during nighttime).

If you lack a real poncho, you can still use a garbage bag as a makeshift one. All you need to do is cut two holes in the sides for your arms and then one in the top for your head. Use a rope or paracord to tie the bag around your waist so that it won’t get in the way.

Signaling Device


As long as your garbage bag is brightly colored, such as orange, it will make for an excellent signaling device. You can spread it across on the ground and weigh down the corners with rocks to signal pilots in the sky, or you can stick it onto the end of a pole and wave it around like a flag.

Trail Markers

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If you’re willing to sacrifice your garbage bag from any other uses, you can easily use it to make trails as you travel and prevent yourself from walking around in circles (which would waste valuable time and energy). Simply cut up the garbage bag into strips and then tie those pieces to the branches and limbs of trees as you walk. Again, brighter colored trash bags such as orange work best for this method, but you could use black ones as well.

Makeshift Mattress


A garbage bag makes for an excellent mattress or pillow when building your survival shelter. Take your trash bag and then stuff it full with leaves, pine needles, or grass. Tie the end of the garbage bag shut and then lay down on it. It’s certainly more comfortable than laying down flat on the rough cold ground, and it also provides you with an extra layer of insulation as well which is very important.


Shelter Building


A garbage bag is always going to make your shelter building efforts easier. In addition to using the trash bag as a mattress or a pillow like we just talked about, you can also use it for the wall(s) or ceiling of your shelter as well. It will offer you ample protection against the rain and the wind, in addition to shade from the sun as well.

Storing Items


This is what garbage bags are made for anyway, right? You can use your garbage bags for storing anything from food and water to supplies. Or while you’re traveling in the wilderness and you come across an area of dry wood, you can collect that wood in your garbage bag to use for building a fire later.

Alternatively, of course, you could just use a trash bag for disposing of waste in a disaster situation (as this is their intended purpose).

Makeshift Toilet


It’s not the most pleasant use for a garbage bag, and you won’t be able to use it for anything after this, but you need to use something for a toilet in a survival or disaster scenario. A garbage bag would make for a very suitable toilet in the wilderness or at your home if the water becomes shut off and you can no longer use the toilets you already have.

When disposing of the waste, be sure to close the garbage bag tightly and then to bury it in the ground a minimum of two hundred feet from your camp and any sources of water. Otherwise, flies or mosquitoes could get into it and spread disease.

Shoe Covers


Keeping your shoes or boots dry as you walk over muddy or wet ground is also imperative to prevent gangrene. Simply cut up a garbage bag in two and then wrap both halves around your shoes as you travel.

Solar Still

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One of the easiest ways to collect water in virtually any scenario, so long as you are patient, is to construct a solar still. To do this, you’ll need a digging tool (an ordinary rock could suffice), a garbage bag, some green leaves, at least five rocks, and a clean container or bucket of some kind.

In the early morning, dig a hole a minimum of two feet wide and a foot deep. Place your container in the middle of the hole and surround it with green vegetation at the bottom. Lay out your garbage bag over the top of the hole and secure it on at least four sides with four of your rocks. Take your remaining rock and place it in the middle of the garbage bag to weigh it down over your container.

Over the course of the day, condensation will slowly but steadily drip from the garbage bag into the container. At the end of the day, gather the water you have collected to drink, and then repeat the next day.


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This one is simple: fill up a garbage bag with water, tie it shut, and then hoist it over a tree limb with a rope or natural vine. Stand under the garbage bag and poke holes in it, and just like that you have a very effective shower.


Hopefully, these tips were helpful, and you’ll find a smart use of the everyday garbage bag. Make sure that you’re eco-friendly, re-use, and don’t waste anything.

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nick-oetken is one of the authors writing for Outdoor Revival