Earth bags are sacks, usually made of burlap or polypropylene, stuffed with natural materials like clay, sand, or dirt. They can be used to construct buildings as well as retaining walls, ponds and raised gardens.
First used by the military to create durable structures that are quick and easy to erect, the technique has become a popular green building tool.
Sacks can be salvaged from old feed bags, though new ones are still inexpensive. The fill, if the bags will be used to create a structure, can be sourced from the soil removed to build the structure, avoiding landfills. Or, if your bag will have a gardening or agricultural application, you can use compost. In other words, earth bags are very sustainable.
Earth bags can be used to create long lasting structures that are impervious to fire, natural disasters like earthquakes, and even bullets. They have been helpful in creating strong but inexpensive shelters for people in undeveloped countries.
They be useful to an urban setting for the following:
Raised planters for decoration and food
One story structures
Eco Brooklyn is particularly impressed by Filtrexx®‘s commitment to sustainability and quality in their production of earth bags. This company has designed earth bags that can be used as planters for gardens or farms, protecting the plants from weeds and pests and creating a raised bed to prevent drowning. Bags can be stacked vertically to make living walls.
Their tube shape makes landscape design very simple and contains the plants without extra maintenance. Filtrexx also produces bags designed to remove heavy metals from contaminated soil, which is a widespread problem in New York and other major cities. Finally the bags can be used to divert rain water, create bioswales, and prevent soil erosion.
For help designing and/or installing an earth bag garden, living wall, soil remediation project, or runoff prevention, contact Eco Brooklyn, your local NY green contractor and landscaper.