13 June 2010
Something Biodegradable: The Facts
This may have dawned on you when you were in the fourth grade, but it didn't hit me until a few months ago. The craze these days is biodegradable everything. I even made the claim that I could buy stuff that's biodegradable. Then I started thinking about it. Biodegradable. Trash bags are not biodegradable--even the ones sold as biodegradable take a long time to disappear. And more often than not I am invited to a gathering where we use biodegradable plates and cups--tossing them without thought into those trash bags.
I started researching online, and I discovered some facts about biodegradables.
This one speaks to me the most from the Website "Project Green Bag."
“The public thinks that biodegradability means ‘If I throw it away, it will completely go away,’” says Narayan. “They don’t even know what ‘going away’ means.” Real biodegradable plastic should be sent to a commercial composting facility, where it will spend its final days being eaten by microbes. But here’s the catch: In 2007, only 42 communities nationwide offered compost collection. (Seventeen were in California.) And though some biodegradable plastics can be recycled, no curbside recycling program will take them. So before you buy biodegradable plastics, make sure you can help them “go away” the right way.
I don't live in California. And I don't compost at home (yet). I will once I take the time to attend a composting class at Schlafly Bottleworks in Maplewood--and do some library reading about it.
But the fact if the matter is this: Biodegradable sells--but that doesn't mean that it's decomposing.
I've been recycling my plastics and aluminum cans since we moved to our charming city bungalow. I didn't do paper because I didn't want the clutter (the plastics are fine outside.). I used to think that the paper would just biodegrade. But the more I think about it, the more I realize: Nothing biodegrades in a landfill. Nothing goes away the right way. Nothing.
So I vow to make sure that when it comes to paper, glass, plastic, tin, and paper I will do my part it making it go away the right way. When I can reuse, I will reuse. When I can't, I will recycle. And when I learn the art of composting, I will be sure to tell all of you about it.