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Since their invention over 100 years ago, paper bags have become one of the most ubiquitous products on the planet, and they continue to impress in the modern age due to their eco-friendly credentials. You can use an old paper bags to cook popcorn, protect your plants, cover your children’s text books, make puppets, or construct luminaries, and that’s just a small list. Some people have taken reusing paper bags to the next level. Paper Bag Stairs Rachel Evans’ staircase is one of a kind. Upon first inspection you might imagine that they are made of either cork or burled wood, but look very close and you might just notice that they’re MDF covered with stained brown paper. Of course, you probably wouldn’t guess that real wood hadn’t been used. This inexpensive solution made the treads look totally authentic, and Rachel did it all using just the brown craft paper from which paper bags are made, white glue, dark walnut stain, and floor-grade polyurethane semi-gloss. Paper Bag Lamp Shades Perhaps not quite as striking as Evans’ paper bag stairs, one homeowner decided to do something a little more immediately arresting. When you turn a lamp on in their house, you’ll find yourself bathed in the warm, homely glow produced by light filtering through a paper bag. Folded cleverly around and they attached at each end, the paper bag lamp shade looks great even when the lamp is off. Turn it on, and something usually seen as drab becomes something completely out of the ordinary. Paper Bag Wall A man named Duane posted something similarly eye-catching on popular creative site Cottage in the Oaks. Duane reported that he have saved up every square inch of wrapping paper and decorative paper bags for years. Once he felt like he had enough, he began to wallpaper his foyer with them. The result is a fascinating patchwork construction of corporate logos, strikingly patterned wrapping, and odd bits and pieces which would otherwise have been long forgotten. Each piece was stuck down to a patch of wall covered in wet paint. They were then smoothed out and covered in a water-based sealer. Of course, you don’t have to take things that far, but it’s always fascinating to hear about those who have done so.
GoingGreen posted a blog entry in GoingGreen's BlogEach year, over 1 trillion plastic bags are used worldwide. Yes, that’s a 1 with 12 zeros. Most of these bags are used only once, after which they are discarded (only a tiny percentage are recycled). It’s quite hard to imagine such an enormous amount of plastic rubbish, but it’s not hard to realise this is not a good thing. Each of these plastic bags can take 500 - 1000 years to degrade, or maybe even longer, scientists don’t really know, but they’re pretty convinced it’s a very, very long time. These bags pollute our oceans, kill sea life and sea birds, and may be poisoning us humans as well. They also make beaches around the world look very unaesthetic. So how do we tackle this huge environmental problem? We could simply start using fewer plastic bags and reuse any that we do use. This may be a tough sell however. Another solution may be switching to paper bags. But are paper bags really that much better than plastic ones? Let’s have a look at some of the environmental benefits of paper bags. Paper bags are easier to recycle Most paper bags are recyclable. Almost any paper bag that does not contain any plastic and isn’t contaminated with food can be recycled. Paper can’t be recycled endlessly however. After having been recycled 5 - 7 times, a paper bag has to be discarded. If the paper is not or minimally inked, it can then be composted. Recycling paper does not come without its environmental issues unfortunately. Harsh chemicals and significant amounts of water and energy are needed during the paper recycling process. Not as harmful to marine lifePaper bags degrade faster in water than plastic bags and they will often sink to the bottom, whereas plastic bags usually float. Paper also doesn’t soak up pollutants as plastic does. This means paper bags are much less likely to cause harm to marine life. Paper bags hold more stuffOn average, a paper bag can hold more than a plastic one because they hold more volume and are stronger. Although there are some environmental benefits of using paper bags over plastic, neither are very environmentally friendly. Paper bags require more natural resources to produce than plastic bags, and recycling them still requires significant use of energy and water. A better option is to use reusable canvas bags.
With concerns about the environment, shoppers are now being advised to avoid using plastic carrier bags. One alternative to these is paper bags. Once you have accumulated a few of these at home, you may wonder if there are any other uses for them instead of leaving them stashed in a cupboard. Here are five unusual ways to utilise any spare paper bags. Make a Gift Bag Paper bags are ideal to use as a cheap gift bag. It is simple to transform a plain bag into something really pretty. Either tie a colourful ribbon at the handles, ass some glitter or sequins, paint a design or add a collage of interesting pictures from magazines. Let your creativity run wild. Store Mushrooms Most people will have encountered the problem of buying mushrooms in a plastic container, putting them in the refrigerator and coming back the next day to find that the mushrooms are all slimy. The best way to avoid this problem is to put your mushrooms in a paper bag when you get home and this will keep them fresher for longer. Rehydrate Stale Bread If your bread has started to go stale, then most people will usually just throw the remains of the loaf away. However, this is not necessary as it is easy to rehydrate stale bread. Just put the bread into the paper bag, pour some water over the outside and put into the oven. This then creates a steaming effect and returns your bread to its original condition. Clean the Windows A crafty cleaning tip is to use the paper bag to clean the windows. Spray the windows with white wine vinegar and then wipe off using paper bags scrunched into balls. They absorb any grease and leave a streak-free finish. Ripen Fruits If it seems to be taking your fruit a while to ripen, then put it into a paper bag at the top part of the refrigerator. This will help your fruit to ripen faster. There is so much more to a paper bag than meets the eye and there are lots of different uses for them. So, unless you are planning to recycle them, don't throw your used paper bags away, give them a new purpose instead.
Paper bags can be recycled and repurposed in numerous ways, and some of the most advantageous uses can help keep your garden in tip-top condition. Here are a few ways in which your paper can aid your plants. Include in Composting Paper bags are relatively thick and highly absorbent, so they make the perfect brown matter for your compost. Dense paper can be shredded into small, narrow pieces, and then mixed in normally, while thinner paper bags can be torn into larger bits and scrunched up into small balls which improve airflow. The paper will break down eventually, so it makes a great material for composting. However, you will want to make sure that all plastic parts – such as handles – are removed. You should also avoid using bags which use anything other than soy-based inks. Block out the Weeds Open up your paper bags so they cover a large area, and then use them to stop weeds from infesting your garden. All you need to do is remove the top layer of soil – working around plants – and then lay sections of paper over the bare ground. You can then cover this layer with a few inches of mulch, compost, or any other organic material. This will help stop weeds coming through, and it’s a far cheaper solution than using shop-bought weed-blockers. The paper will eventually break down naturally, but give the soil a good tilling during early autumn to help it on its way. Protection from the Cold Most garden plants are hardy enough to last out the winter, but freezes have the potential to either damage or kill them. The best – and easiest – way to ensure that a cold snap doesn’t do away with your garden involves simply tying a paper bag around the top of the plant. This acts as insulation, keeping the warm air in and the cold air out. This is best done overnight. In the morning, be sure to remove the covering. Remember to never use plastic bags to cover a plant, as plastic will damage it. Next time you’re shopping, ask for paper bags instead of plastic, then use these tips to keep your garden looking great.