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Compostable vs Biodegradable: What's the Difference?

Compostable vs Biodegradable: What's the Difference?

Feeling a little bit confused about the difference between compostable and biodegadable? Don't worry, you're not the only one!  Both words get used quite frequently in the sustainability world, but they are quite different!  Let's set the record straight...

COMPOSTABLE

  • Composting is a human-driven process in which biodegradation occurs under a specific set of circumstances
  • Composting is an accelerated biodegradation process due to optimized circumstances
  • The material needs a certain environment in order to properly compost in regards to temperature, moisture and oxygen
  • Leaves no visible, distinguishable or toxic residue
  • Most of the material breaks down completely within 180 days
  • This compost not only returns to it's original state but is also beneficial and can be used to enrich soil

BIODEGRADABLE

  • Biodegradation is the naturally-occurring breakdown of materials by microorganisms such as bacteria and fungi or other biological activity
  • Products that will biodegrade in nature or in home compost heaps may not biodegrade in landfills, where there's not enough bacteria, light, and water to move the process along
  • Is meant to occur naturally without human intervention and without causing harm
  • Can decompose back into natural elements
  • Capable of biodegrading without any oxygen source
  • The timeline for biodegradation is not well defined, and can be quite varied

DEGRADABLE

  • Any product can be labelled "degradable" because everything will eventually break down
  • The product will naturally break down into smaller pieces, eventually, but this could take thousands of years
  • Depending on the material, it could leave behind toxicity to the soil and the environment around it

KEY POINTS

While all compostable material is also biodegradable, not all biodegradable material is compostable

Compostable materials are broken down with human intervention, while biodegradable materials break down naturally

Compostable materials break down quickly and within a specified timeframe, while biodegradable materials are not held to a specific timeframe and could take years (like steel products which will eventually rust)

Both processes should not cause any harm to the environment, while composting is known to also be beneficial to soil

Many companies may use these terms to "greenwash" their products and make them appear more eco-friendly than they actually are

 

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5 Easy Changes For Plastic Free July

 

Plastic Free July has grown from a handful of participants in Western Australia in 2011, to millions of participants across more than 150 countries worldwide today.
 
This incredible transformation has led them to become an independent, not-for-profit charitable foundation and their vision is a world without plastic waste. 

By encouraging people to be more aware of their plastic use, and supporting behaviour change during the month of July every year, hopefully this dream will become more of a reality.

It might seem overwhelming to think of living 100% plastic free, but any small change you can make matters.  Read below to see 5 easy changes everyone can make without any stress!

1. CLEANING: Make your own household cleaners in a glass spray bottle.  These highly durable, refillable 16 oz glass spray bottles make it easy to replace wasteful store-bought chemical cleaners with all-natural, non-toxic homemade cleaners you make at home.

Simply choose a recipe, add ingredients to the fill lines on the bottle, shake, and you're ready to clean!

 

 

2. KITCHEN: Replace your disposable plastic zip lock bags with silicone storage bags.  Long-lasting, useful and so versatile, you'll never need to visit the zip-lock aisle in the grocery store again.  And think about all of that plastic saved from the landfill!

 

3.  EATING:  Bring along a reusable bamboo cutlery set for food on the go. How about a bamboo utensil set to round out the perfect toolkit for life on the go? A handy carabiner on the back lets you clip and carry a fork, knife, spoon and chopsticks wherever you may roam. Perfect for a busy lifestyle and our precious planet. 

 

4.  BAGS:  Always carry a reusable bag with you while you're out and about.  This tote is my new favorite PFHK product!  It is so versatile and can carry lots of weight, and of course eliminates the need for disposable plastic bags.  From the grocery to the beach, I always find I'm reaching for it while I'm out and about.

 

5.  BATHROOM: Stainless steel safety razor instead of plastic, disposable one. Over 2 billion disposable plastic razors are thrown out each year in the U.S. alone.  That's enough to wrap around the Earth end-to-end 6 times!  Let's return to the good old days of safety razors and eliminate the need for this type of plastic waste.

 

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