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Is biodegradable always the Eco-friendly to go for?

Updated on July 12, 2011

We all live in times where the emphasis is on going green, reducing the carbon footprint and using more eco-friendly materials. There is always emphasis on reducing the pollutants we end up exuding into the environment and a common term that we hear in concurrence with this is to use more bio-degradable substances. In fact, it is one of the most popularly used terms in the war against using plastic. But just how green are these bio-degradable items? A lot of companies today are looking at introducing biodegradable packaging methods to reduce the harmful wastes they are disposing. From plastic spoons and forks to carry bags and even mats nearly everything out there comes with a bio-degradable tag. Just what are these substances made of?

The main reason why technology has come up with biodegradable items is to ensure that waste can be turned into something else, a simpler by product or something that has an alternate use. This is the main thought behind the term ‘biodegradable’. However, it is important to understand that while there are many different items claiming to be of this category, the methods of disposal for them vary. Unless they are disposed of with the right facilities available to break them down, they can pose a serious waste disposal problem.

What matters when it comes to biodegradable items is just how much time it takes to break it down. Bread is biodegradable and it gets broken down fast, plastic is also biodegradable but it takes years and years to break it down to its constituent components or a less harmful form. There was a study conducted by the California University on the different biodegradable products, taking into consideration two specific types of ‘biodegradable plastics’. The results that the study came up with were rather alarming. It was found that these biodegradable plastics tended to release more methane gas into the atmosphere during their breakdown than usual. Methane which is a strong culprit in climate change is a stronger threat than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas. The problem arises when the composting facility or landfill where the wastes are disposed of does not make use of this gas resulting in environmental issues.

If you are someone who is very interested in a greener lifestyle, make sure that you make informed choices when buying products. A consumer who knows what they are buying, proper disposal methods and what the end products are of a biodegradable product will be able to ensure that they truly follow eco friendly methods. Whether it is cleaning products, utensils, carry bags, ingredients of substances you use or more, ensure that you know about the product well before you buy it. What is supposed to be biodegradable in the true sense will vary depending on the end products they produce on decomposition and the kind of facilities available to make use of these products. Ensure that you make the right choices, exercise the right to information and choose products that are truly green and eco friendly.


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