Biodegradable and compostable goods offer a promising solution to the ever-growing problem of waste. With both types of products, biodegradation and composting do not produce toxins or pollutants. Additionally, these eco-friendly options often cost less than their non-eco counterparts.
Many companies are now offering products made entirely from recycled materials – reducing environmental impacts even further. By switching to biodegradable and compostable products, businesses and consumers can both benefit from reduced waste production while saving money in the process!
What Does Biodegradable Mean?
Biodegradable materials are essential for the health of our environment. Without them, the accumulation of non-biodegradable materials such as plastics would eventually overwhelm our planet.
The process of biodegradation is a natural one and is necessary to sustain life on earth. Microorganisms like bacteria and fungi play an important role in the biodegradation process by breaking down organic matter into simple components like water, carbon dioxide, and biomass. The time it takes for an object to break down can vary widely; something like vegetable scraps will take days, while a plastic bag could take up to 500 years or more.
It is important to note that biodegradation occurs faster when oxygen is present, so taking measures to improve air circulation around organic matter may speed up the process.
Compostable Products- What Are They?
Composting is a key component of sustainability. It helps to reduce the amount of organic waste sent to landfills, conserves water and energy and reduces the need for chemical fertilizers.
Compostable products are generally made from renewable plant materials such as wood, paper, cotton, and starch-based polymers, which can be processed into compost within a specific timeframe.
The process involves microorganisms that break down the organic matter with the help of water, oxygen, light, and other components found in an optimal composting environment. The resulting compost is rich in nutrients and can be used to enrich soil in gardens or agricultural land.
Composting also helps to create healthier air quality by reducing greenhouse gas emissions such as methane and carbon dioxide. With careful management and the right conditions, composting can be used as an effective way to reduce our environmental footprint while providing multiple benefits for our health and natural environment.
There are two main types of composting, which we will go over below:
- Residential composting: This type of household composting is an efficient way to reduce homes' contribution to landfills and create nutrient-rich humus for garden beds. To do so, it's important to select a bin that is the right size and material for the amount of food waste produced. This should be filled with food scraps such as vegetable peels, eggshells, coffee grounds, fruit rinds, and yard waste like leaves and grass clippings. The combination of these materials should be turned over regularly to allow air into the pile, promoting decomposition by helpful bacteria and fungi.
- Commercial composting: The second type of composting is a process designed to break down organic materials in order to create a nutrient-rich, soil-like material. The process begins with sorting materials into organics and inorganics, which are then broken down with specialty equipment such as chippers and grinders. Once the particles are reduced to an appropriate size, they are placed into large bins or piles where the composting process continues.
Choosing Biodegradable vs. Compostable Products
Compostable items are a fantastic way to reduce your environmental footprint, as they can be recycled back into the environment. Composting these items at home involves breaking down organic matter like food scraps, paper, and yard waste, and using it as a valuable fertilizer to nourish gardens and soil.
This helps promote healthy growth while simultaneously keeping potentially harmful waste out of landfills. Moreover, compostable labeling is often very straightforward, making it easier for shoppers to identify more sustainable products. Many municipalities offer composting bins for their citizens to use in order to make sure that valuable materials are not thrown away and instead reused in beneficial ways.
Compostable products can be beneficial, but it's important to make sure they are sent to a commercial composting facility. This is because, unlike standard plastic waste, compostable items require specific conditions in order to break down and decompose properly. Unfortunately, many of these facilities are not widely available or accessible, so without access, sending compostable materials to the landfill remains the only option.
Bioplastics, while seen as an improvement over conventional plastics, can also have a negative environmental impact if not disposed of correctly. Ultimately, reducing consumption and avoiding single-use products whenever possible remains the most effective way of preserving our planet’s natural resources and habitats.
Which is More Eco-friendly?
Biodegradable products are those that are made from substances that can naturally decompose, such as paper or cardboard. However, many biodegradable products are also made from chemical plastics, in some cases, these chemicals take longer to break down than material from plant-based sources.
Compostable products provide an ecological alternative to chemical plastics as they are usually derived from natural plant sources such as corn starch or cellulose. In addition, compostable materials tend to break down more quickly due to their smaller particle size and lack of additives. This means that if compostable materials are kept in the right conditions, they can decompose at a faster rate than biodegradable materials.
While both biodegradable and compostable products have advantages regarding environmental sustainability, the latter is often viewed as the superior option due to its quicker rate of decomposition and reliance on natural plant sources rather than chemical plastics.
Tips to Reduce Waste
- Reduce or eliminate single-use products: Single-use items are made to be used once and then thrown away, which creates a high amount of waste. Avoid purchasing items like plastic water bottles, straws, paper plates, plastic bags and containers, disposable coffee cups, and other single-use products by investing in reusable alternatives instead.
- Recycle properly: When you use items that need to be recycled, read the label carefully for the proper recycling instructions. Items labeled as compostable or biodegradable should not be put into the recycling bin; these items should either be disposed of in the trash or composted at home if possible
- Shop with intention: If an item has a lot of excessive packaging, it’s likely best to avoid buying it; opt for bulk or fresh options when available instead. Make sure to ask brands how they recommend disposing of products and packaging properly so you can hold them accountable for their waste production practices.
- Invest in reusable products: Reusable products like water bottles, food containers, utensils, and tote bags are great investments that can help reduce waste over time—use these at home or in public when it’s safe again! Look for sustainable materials like glass, aluminum, stainless steel, hemp, organic cotton, and more for your reusable purchases whenever possible as well.
- DIY hygiene and cleaning products: Making your own hygiene and cleaning products is another great way to avoid using up excessive amounts of packaging from store bought versions. You can make simple recipes with everyday ingredients such as baking soda, vinegar, lemon juice, etc., which will reduce your reliance on single-use plastic bottles too!