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Burlap and Canvas Shade Screens for the Summer


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The applications of shade screen fabrics like jute and cotton based canvas and burlap are endless. Shade mesh is commonly used in agricultural and home garden settings to protect plants from over-exposure to the sun while allowing rain to seep through. It provides sun, shade, and wind protection.

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Sheet Mulching with Burlap


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Sheet mulching is a great way to convert any grassy or weed-riddled area into a rich garden bed by layering compostable material over the area and allowing it to sit for several months.  This mimics nature’s organic cycle of accumulating fallen leaves that decompose over time, untouched, blocking out sunlight to prevent weeds from sprouting. It is also a wonderful landscaping technique.

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Gardening with Burlap


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gardenIf you are a fan of a natural looking garden, take a look at burlap for inspiration to recreate your surroundings outdoors. When you purchase plants, trees and shrubs from stores, their root balls are protected with burlap for a very good reason. The burlap will biodegrade over time so you don’t need to remove it when planting; roots will grow right through it, worms will devour it along with other nutrients in the ground, and eventually it will disappear.

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Inexpensive Erosion Control in Developing Countries


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erosion3Soil erosion is a major concern all over the world. It may be a slow process that continues over time unnoticed, or a faster-paced disaster causing detrimental loss of topsoil. From Afghanistan, India, Nepal to Tibet, technologies preventing, mitigating or stopping soil erosion is a combination of learning to replace indigenous plants, make structural changes, and adopting new agricultural measures.

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Planned Erosion Control Using Fibrous Mats to Avoid Future Problems


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Landscaping and construction industries use jute and burlap fabrics including mats, rolls, and sandbags for environmental remediation when planning and preparing land for new structures.Proper use and preparation of soil in advance can minimize natural and man-made disasters from happening. Plant fiber products are a valuable tool in erosion control because there are so many ways to use them. They biodegrade as new plants take hold and other landscaping structures are installed. They include:

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  • Burlap for immediate erosion control on very steep slopes susceptible to destabilization, biodegrading over time.
  • Jute mesh with large square grids to allow plants room to grow through them biodegrades eliminating the need to remove it later.
  • Coir mat made from the exterior of coconut shells after processing holds water and resists decomposition for longer periods of use than burlap and jute.

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Why Do We Still Use Sandbags in Floods?


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sandbag 3The use of sandbags dates back to the Revolutionary War when a Chief Engineer was appointed in the Continental Army in 1775. It was discovered that sandbags being used for temporary military forts were also effective for fighting flood waters. By 1824, money was being set aside by Congress for improved river navigation along with road, railroad, and bridge construction. They began offering assistance for local flood disasters when state and local governments lacked the resources to do it alone. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers today has the authority to inspect and strengthen flood control structures like levees and dikes and provide supplies and evacuation assistance.

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Sandbags: Natures Building Blocks


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A simple sandbag is made of burlap or woven polypropylene and fillednyp sandbag 1 with sand or soil, often directly on the intended site, and used for flood control in the construction of levees, berms, dikes, and flood walls. Other structures built with sandbags include barricades for erosion, traffic control, and military fortification. The materials used to make them are abundant and they can prevent both further personal loss and property damage before, during, and after natural disasters.

Properly filled and placed sandbags can divert moving water around communities and structures. Repairs are made to levees and dams and used to train water flows to specific areas.  They are stacked in a brick pattern to form a wall and reinforced with plywood sheeting and plastic tarps.

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Hurricane and Flood-Related Emergency Sandbags


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Emergency Sandbags

There are many uses for burlap sandbags like raised garden beds, retaining walls, steps, footpaths in water-logged areas, low-cost green building materials for homes, and added weight in pickup trucks during icy weather.

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Paper or Plastic? Reusable Plant Fiber is the Answer!


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Paper and Plastic Bags

It’s been long debated whether to continue the use of plastic bags to carry our consumer goods. They aren’t biodegradable or compostable.

Paper bags may be a better alternative to plastic bags, but they contribute to environmental problems like deforestation by using at least 10 million trees a year as well as generating pollution from paper manufacturing facilities.

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Clothing is Made from Plants Including Jute!


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We purchase clothing all the time, often without checking to see what the material is made from. There are fabrics we find instantly identifiable while others are not as familiar. Many of our fabrics are made from plant fibers. Those fibers are blended with others for certain characteristics like durability, comfort, and the ease with which they can be dyed for color options. Some fabrics previously not chosen for clothing are being considered for blends especially since new technologies have been able to make them more workable.

Burlap is made from plant fibers like jute or hemp. Burlap is a very coarse fabric, but there have been efforts over the years to use it for making inexpensive clothing with various results. Knitting_wales_slip_stitchJute fiber is used to make Ghillie suits for military camouflage that resembles grasses or brush. While it is still considered uncomfortable on its own, jute can be blended with cotton and other fabrics to make espadrilles, soft sweaters, and cardigans.

Pure hemp has a similar feel to linen. Hemp was used extensively by the United States during World War II to make uniforms because it tends to be strong, insulating, absorbent, and durable. These are excellent qualities for garments that will see hard wear and tear. The fibers can last up to three times longer than cotton fibers. Advances in breeding and treating hemp can create much finer, softer fabrics and it is also able to blend with flax, cotton or silk.

Hemp jewelry is the product of knotting hemp twine called macramé. Hemp jewelry includes bracelets, necklaces, anklets, rings, and even watches. jute jewelleryWhile this isn’t clothing, it is definitely wearable as well as creative.
Consumers are far more likely to use basic burlap material for tablecloths, throw rugs or other applications like decorative tapestries, pillows, or lampshades in homes with a rustic charm.

Linen fabric is made from the flax plant. Clothing made from it is usually comfortable and designed for a generous flowing fit. Flax was first used in the Mediterranean to make string and then finer strands made comfortable tunics to wear when it was warm. It was covered up by wool when it became cold. Linen became considered an undergarment and was hard to dye so it was mainly worn in white. There are many types of clothing made with flax today including skirts, dresses, blouses, shirts, pants, and jackets.

Other natural plant fabrics that can be used for clothing include Cotton and Ramie. Cotton is still the most widely used natural fiber in the global textile industry because it is naturally soft and easy to dye, but Jute production comes in second because of its variety of uses. Ramie is silky in texture and one of the strongest natural fibers, but Hemp is the strongest. All of these plants can be spun into a thread or rope and woven, knit, matted, or bound.

Get curious and read the label next time you go shopping!