Things we love: upcycled woven poly bags

Have you heard of upcycling? Upcycling is a type of recycling, but it creates something more valuable or of a higher quality. Examples of upcycling include using materials from plastic bottles to make new shoes or reclaimed wood to make quality furniture.

Or, in the case that we love, it turns empty or unused woven poly bags into something colorful and unexpected. 

Here are a few we found.

Simple chicken feed tote bag

This simple chicken feed upcycled tote bag is a handy way to turn empty feed bags into useful totes that are practically indestructible because of the strength of the woven polypropylene.

Rebecca Nickols from Community Chickens describes how she got started:

“Here’s a great way to repurpose, reuse and recycle your empty chicken feed sacks. I came up with my version of a reusable bag that’s easy to construct, functional and even somewhat fashionable!”

Upcycled and top-shelf

Want something a little fancier? Try these plans for cloth-lined upcycled poly bag totes shared by Happiest Camper:

“Are feed sacks piling up on your homestead? Don’t throw them away! Repurpose a feed sack into a tote bag. The material is durable enough to withstand quite a bit of weight. The totes are perfect for shopping at the farmer’s market or grocery store. You can make them any size you’d like to fit any scenario too. I made a feed sack tote bag as large as I could and added a lining for a beach/pool bag. Then I use smaller ones to carry library books and supplies for mobile craft projects. The possibilities are endless!”

Protect your clothes with feed bags

Doing some messy gardening? How about an apron that’s tough and can be hosed off when you’re done.

Zip up this water-resistant jacket

And if you’re really feeling ambitious, this zippered upcycled jacket will keep the kids dry and warm when they’re gardening or just playing in a spring shower. 

As they explain on Mary’s Milk Monsters, “the next project was a simple zipper jacket made from Purina goat chow bags. It took three bags, though I think an adult jacket would take four. Those goaties better eat up, because I think my mom wants one! I wore this to a downtown art gallery walk and got lots of complements, especially from artists who like to use recycled materials.”

Need more ideas? Start here.

If you’re looking for even more ways to keep your used woven poly bags out of the trash and upcycle them into a new life, check out this list of FIFTY ways to keep your bags out of the landfill from Horse And Rider magazine:

“It’s a fact of life: When you have horses, you’ll also have feed sacks…lots and lots of feed sacks. And with most feed manufacturers now using plastic instead of paper sacks, the options for re-using this essentially free resource are limited only by your imagination.”

With Pinterest, the ideas never seem to end

And, finally, if you’ve got plenty of time on your hands, do what we did and take a look around Pinterest. Surely there’s something there you’ll like!

Upcycling isn’t a gimmick. It’s a way to redirect “trash” to longer-term uses

According to, upcycling is beneficial for the planet:

“It accomplishes several things at once: It reuses materials we already have, and it creates something new.

“Giving used products a new life reduces the need to use unethically sourced or unsustainable materials, like plastic, to create new products. Think about shoes made from recycled water bottles. Not only does upcycling plastic prevent a build-up of plastic waste, but it also provides new shoes without using new resources.”

Next time you empty a pet food or farm feed bag, remember, you might be holding a future treasure in your hands.

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