I have always loved giving old things a new purpose. During my first years out of university, when things were not great, my whole one-bedroom flat was full of DIY stuff. I would turn old crates into bookshelves, mason jars into candle holders, and even spend hours rolling read newspapers to create small boxes to keep my cosmetics in.
And now, even though I don’t have to, I still love to create. At first, I was skeptical. Mulch bags? What could I possibly do with those? But as I started to look more closely, I began to see the potential. These bags were durable and weather-resistant, all the makings of a great DIY material. So I started experimenting with different ideas and realized that empty soil bags are more versatile than I ever imagined.
The vast majority of us started gardening to live in a bit more sustainable manner. And we’re gonna bring it to the finish line today as I’ll delve into many creative ways in which you can reuse those seemingly unremarkable empty mulch and soil bags. And even if you do not like any of my creative ideas, I’ll show you how to properly recycle plastic mulch bags,
What are Mulch and Soil Bags Made Of
Well, I can either answer this question in a long and scientific way or say that mulch bags are made of plastic. Which isn’t incorrect. As most bags are made of different plastic polymers, usually polypropylene enriched with a woven texture, which adds strength and durability to the bags.
They are designed to withstand the wear and tear of being outside in all types of weather. They are pretty durable, but with my luck, the mulch bag gets punctured whenever it’s the least convenient.
How to Recycle Mulch and Soil Bags
When it comes to recycling those empty bags, it depends on the material they are made of. You should first check the material label on the back side of the bag.
If you see PP, it means that the bag is made out of polypropylene and is usually fully recyclable. That’s despite the fact that the material is enriched with fabric fibers.
That’s because the bag is made nearly entirely from plastic, and polypropylene is commonly used in many different industries
The second most common material used to make mulch bags is LDPE, or Low-density polyethylene can technically also be recycled. However, just because something can be recycled doesn’t mean that it’ll be recycled.
LDPE is a lot softer than other plastics and can easily tangle in the recycling machinery. As a consequence, many recycling programs won’t accept LPDE or take it out of the sorting process right at the beginning.
Creative Ways to Repurpose Mulch and Soil Bags
Bag for Garden Waste
One creative way to repurpose mulch and soil bags is to use them as bags for garden waste. You should carefully cut only the top of the bag, use the mulch in your garden, and then reuse the bag for all kinds of garden debris, from fallen leaves to dead plants and soil infested by pests.
You can use it over and over again till it tears apart. Then properly recycle it.
Mulch and soil bags can also be repurposed into plant covers to protect your garden from frost or other weather conditions. Cut the bags open and lay them flat, then cut them to size based on the dimensions of the plant you want to cover. Use stakes or rocks to secure the bags around the base of the plant, making sure the bag covers the entire plant and reaches the ground.
The bags will create a protective barrier that helps to trap warmth and prevent frost from damaging your plants. Plus, because the bags are made from a durable material, they can be reused for multiple growing seasons.
The only downside with this method is that mulch bags are usually non-seethrough. So I wouldn’t recommend using it to cover your plants for a whole winter season.
This is my favorite way to give empty mulch and soil bags a new life, to create an affordable weed barrier.
First, cut open the bags on three corners to lay them completely flat. Then cut the bags to the size of your wanted plants and slide them in. You can then cover the bags with a layer of mulch, soil, or rocks to make a really nice design element.
The bags will not only act as a barrier that prevents weeds from growing through but also help retain moisture and regulate soil temperature.
Because mulch and soil bags are made out of durable plastic, they can also be used to collect rainwater.
Choose a large enough plastic bag and place it under your gutter. Then secure it with a little bit of soil on the sides to lock it in place.
When it rains, the water will be collected in the bag that you can later use to water your garden.
Tip: I would recommend to slide one bag into another, and double thickness, to be sure that it won’t burst open during heavy rain.
Emptied-out bags from mulch can also make great compost storage. However, I wouldn’t recommend using a plastic bag to create your compost. That’s because, during the composting process, the food scraps will heat up. So before loading up your compost into the bags, make sure the temperature is stable.
Although I haven’t tried it, plastic won’t likely help your plant grow better.
Repurpose Mulch and Soil Bags as Planters
You can use mulch or soil bags as unique and eco-friendly planters.
Simply cut open the bags and fill them with soil and your desired plants. These bags are perfect for growing plants that have shallow roots, such as herbs or small flowers. You can even get creative and decorate your new grow bags with paint or other materials to add some personality to your garden.
Next time you use a bag of mulch, soil, or any other bagged garden thingy, don’t throw them away! There are many creative and eco-friendly ways these bags can be repurposed in your garden.
In order to make a real difference, we need to start taking small actions in our daily life to contribute to a more sustainable world. And repurposing these materials is a step in the right direction.