Is Burlap Biodegradable? (And Composable?)

We are immensely blessed with vast natural resources to make life much easier. Fortunately, some of these resources are multipurpose and can be used in different dimensions. Both the commercial and domestic segments enjoy the benefits of burlap.

When you think of arts and crafts, burlap is a suitable material. If anything, it’s a hot trend that no crafts lover wants to miss out on. Burlap is an ideal gardening material for green thumbs and gardeners because of its porosity, multiple utility, and low price.

Now, it’s usually best to get the maximum use of any material you purchase before you dispose of it, but nothing lasts forever. You’ll eventually have to throw it away, and when you have wider options, the disposal becomes easier. You’ll also be able to choose the most environmentally friendly way of doing it.

So, is burlap biodegradable? This may be a disposal option for this material, but you need to keep reading to find out. Let’s consider some of the characteristics of burlaps, their biodegradability, ability to decompose, and overall effects on the environment. Don’t go anywhere!

What is Burlap Made of?

Nature sure has blessed us with enough resources for comfort and luxury. We’ve further taken these materials and modified them or created other options out of artificial materials. This is why we have both natural and synthetic options.

Burlap is a natural fiber that’s made from jute. Alternatively, hemp and flax can also be used to make this material. It’s a woven fabric and very durable too. However, its texture is too brittle to be worn as human attire, except in rare cases. It’s itchy and much too harsh for the human skin.

It has a coarse composition that makes this material ideal for outdoor activities. Burlap is also highly heat resistant and easy to dye.

Burlaps get their beige from the jute plant, which is golden. It can grow as tall as 12 feet high, is durable, and grows fast. Four to six months are enough for this plant to fully mature.

Now, when making this material, the first significant step is soaking jute stems in water. They remain there until they become soft. Then, the strips are taken out and left to dry in the sun.

Afterward, they’ll be taken to a mill to get processed, and this is where a series of twisting and spinning will begin. Then, the jute strips will be shaped and woven into useable materials.

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Are Burlap Bags Biodegradable?

Pollution is on the increase as our reliance on plastic grows. Plastic isn’t biodegradable and wreaks severe havoc on the environment. It’s our go-to material for a host of activities, industrial and otherwise. Studies have even shown that this toxic material makes up more than 80 percent of the waste in our water bodies.

So, other materials that are more friendly for the environment must be created as replacements for materials like plastic.

This is where burlap bags come in. They can be used for an array of packaging options and also serve as gym bags, tote bags, wine bags, party favors, among many other uses.

Now that the world is switching to this option, we also must consider its biodegradability. Are burlap bags biodegradable?

Well, they are. As we’ve already mentioned, these fantastic plastic substitutes are made from jute, flax, and hemp. These are all-natural materials that follow the natural biodegradation process.

When you expose unwanted burlap bags to the proper weather condition, microbes, oxygen, and water, they’ll break down fast. Since they don’t have any chemical additives in them, the decomposition process will positively impact the environment, such as creating more soil and serving as fertilizer for your plants.

Burlap bags are biodegradable, but this material is resilient and durable and will take as long as a decade or more to break down.

However, this is just for burlap bags made from natural products. There are also synthetic bags, which will never decompose.

So, when you ask if these bags are biodegradable, we’ll say it depends. If it’s natural, then yes. But synthetic bags won’t! 

Can Burlap be Composted?

Composting is another environmentally positive way of disposing of your waste. It can be done privately, in your yard. This is a common method among people who have gardens.

Waste from the kitchen can be gathered and put in a compost pile. This waste extends to any material that can break down within a reasonable time, as the essence of composting is to feed the materials to the soil and plants.

Kitchen waste like vegetable matter, leftover food, and other materials that go in a compost bin can decompose in weeks to months, at most.

You can also compost waste from your yard. This can be leaves, grass, dead plants, and sometimes sawdust.

On the other hand, you can opt for the community composting arrangement. This is usually in the form of compost bins placed in a central area for everyone to dispose of their compostable waste uniformly.

Now, this type of waste isn’t restricted to leftover or unwanted kitchen items alone. Conventionally, as long as it breaks down pretty fast and contains no chemicals, there’s always a place for it in compost bins.

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Remember, there are two types of burlap – natural and synthetic. Synthetic burlap implies that non-natural materials have been introduced to this product, so composting them is impossible. They are also incapable of breaking down, as they’ve been built with fortified materials.

In contrast, you can compost natural burlap, as it’s biodegradable and breaks down within a reasonable time. However, if you expect to use the materials in the compost bin anytime soon, you shouldn’t consider including burlap in your pile.

It takes anywhere between two to three years to break down, and this is an extended period when dealing with compost.

How Long Does It Take Burlap to Decompose?

If you’ve ever laid your hands on burlap, then you’d know how sturdy this material is. That’s what makes it so suitable for packaging items with great weight. These bags are used to carry cement, package heavy materials, and do many other outdoor activities.

Purely natural burlap is pretty strong, but when it’s compared to its synthetic counterpart, the latter is much stronger.

Now, for decomposition! The softer burlap can completely break down in two to three years. You’ll have to expose it to the right temperature, though. There must also be sufficient water, oxygen, and access by microbes.

It’ll break down and provide the soil with nutrients within a reasonable time.

On the other hand, synthetic burlap never decomposes. It looks like burlap but is made from plastic designed never to rot – it can last forever! That’s why it’s a terrible idea to condemn a material like this to our landfills.

So how long does it take burlap to decompose? Well, it depends. If you’re dealing with natural items, anywhere between two to ten years, and as long as ten years for the more durable option.

Is Burlap Good or Bad For the Environment?

Burlap is an alternative to plastic. It’s sturdy enough to serve as its replacement on many fronts – for packaging, outdoor use, crafts, and art. There are many use-cases for this material, which means its demand will increase significantly in the coming years.

As such, environmentally conscious people commonly if burlap is good or bad for the environment. Well, we can only answer yes! Burlap is a sustainable material.

As you already know, it’s made from jute, a crop that matures in six months but offers a bountiful harvest when it’s well grown. It has a fantastic growth efficiency that makes planting and growing it much easier; this is also because it requires less land.

Growing jute also requires no fertilizer. Even when using fertilizer or pesticides, jute requires a lot less than other crops. There are also lower occurrences with pests where this material is concerned.

The amount of carbon dioxide jute absorbs is also considerably more than most other trees. Then, you also have to consider the unavoidable increase in soil fertility after jute has been planted.

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Finally, you can compost and recycle burlap, which means disposing of this material will never be a burden to the environment. But again, the quality and durability of burlap items mean it’ll be a long time before you have to look into suitable disposal methods.

What is Burlap Used for?

One of the reasons for the popularity of burlap is the use-cases. You can employ all the excellent and environmentally friendly qualities both as main choices and sustainable options for a range of things, including:

1. Wedding Décor

You can use burlap to spice up a wedding décor style. This material gives off a rustic and aesthetically pleasing view, and you can incorporate it in several ways.

First, consider wrapping burlap around your bouquet to give it a unique look, or use it for chair bows.

2. Pillowcases

Did you know that burlap pillowcases are a strong decorative piece? Their neutral color wonderfully complements and improves your décor. When making these pillowcases, you have to be cautious about your pillow showing through the spaces in this material, so it’s a good idea to use a color that closely resembles it as a barricade for this.

3. Burlap Vases

You can use burlap to transform just about anything. If you have a couple of unused mason jars, you can wrap strips of burlap around them to significantly improve their appeal. Then, place flowers in them and set them anywhere in your home.

4. Photo Frames

Since one of the famous qualities of burlap is its ability to improve the appeal of any item, let’s also apply it to our photo frames.

It’s as easy as tracing out the frame on some burlap and attaching them. Spice up your picture frames by giving this rustic look.

5. Garden Use

For green thumbs, burlaps are a godsend! You can use them to promote the welfare of your plants through weed control, keep your plants warm and hydrated, and for growing food.

You can even use it to protect your soil and roots during transplants. When burlap spends considerable time in the soil, it’ll biodegrade and provide extra nourishment for the plants.

They’re also great for animal control. Instead of spending considerable money on wired fences, you can attach the burlap to stakes and place them vertically around your property.

Conclusion

We have diverse fabric options to choose from. The synthetic ones don’t exactly leave the best impact on the environment, and most of them won’t biodegrade too.

So, you can rely on options like burlap, which is excellent for the environment and will break down in considerable time.

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About Rinkesh

A true environmentalist by heart ❤️. Founded Conserve Energy Future with the sole motto of providing helpful information related to our rapidly depleting environment. Unless you strongly believe in Elon Musk‘s idea of making Mars as another habitable planet, do remember that there really is no 'Planet B' in this whole universe.