paper bag recyclingEvoking images of humble peanut butter and jelly lunches, sensibly shrouded school texts and adorkable hand puppets, the brown paper bag has long been the poster child for practical, utilitarian applications. Thanks to its raw, unbleached visage and durable construction, we automatically reach for a bag anytime we want to line our countertop compost container or deposit accidentally shattered drinking glass shards inside, but that’s typically where the buck stops. Outside the realm of that which is positively functional, when was the last time that you said to yourself, “Hmm, a brown paper bag would come in handy right about now”? Good thing you’re reading this article. In addition to serving failsafe applications such as absorbing the excess oil out of a batch of fried chicken or morphing into a wonderfully cozy nesting material for burrowing pocket pets such as hamsters and gerbils, brown paper bags are equally as effective in a household worm bin or cushioning delicate holiday ornaments while in storage. Of course, things get really interesting once they emerge from their comfort zone and venture into the wild, wacky world of the creative DIYer. With a little primping and preening, a brown paper bag can be easily transformed into the supermodel of the crafty set. Go ahead and rediscover what you’ve been missing out on for far too long: Create an instant feline playhouse without breaking a sweat! Nestle 10 folded bags — one inside the other — for a disposable yet biodegradable waste solution in your home office. Adorn your next holiday or birthday gift with artfully stitched wrapping that’s fit to be bow-tied. Don a flirty, flouncy cocktail dress made all the more party worthy with the addition of a quilled necklace pendant and matching earrings. Usher in spring courtesy of this brown paper nest or a handcrafted eco-bouquet and mark the ultimate transition to autumn by erecting fireplace manteltrees. Pass on the store-bought Halloween costumes in favor of these child-worthy creations that will be just as enjoyable to make as they will be to wear. Once Turkey Day comes, dazzle the kiddies with a paper turkey bursting at the seams with popcorn stuffing. Giant holiday-themed luminaries will grace the pathway to your home in “Why didn’t I think of that?” style. Restore the wow to your holiday wall with a tree-shaped advent calendar or origami cranes. Celebrate an upcoming birthday by decking your halls with a festive party garland or mailing out a package in a handcrafted brown bag envelope. Surprise a loved one with a pocket-sized caterpillar-style inspiration book, a homemade scrapbook or a stack of always practical yet thoroughly appreciated brown paper bag recipe cards. Put your best career foot forward with brown paper bag business cards and journal cover boasting a faux leather façade. For more animal-free leather ideas, decoupage old furniture (think chairs, dressers and tabletops) as well as floors, stairs and walls for the ultimate eco-facelift. Grace your newly revamped tabletop with a complete set of placemats. While taking a well-deserved snack break by indulging in homemade, chemical-free microwave popcorn, this brown paper bag zine will likely recharge your creative eco-spirit. Put the kibosh on overenthusiastic weeds by creating a natural mulch barrier and then reserve extra seeds from this year’s bounty inside convenient brown paper packets.