Reducing waste is something that humans have been disregarding for many years. While some countries export their trash to developing countries, so they don’t have to deal with the issue it’s clear to say that the solution is not out of sight out of mind when it comes to rubbish.
With so much technology and better education on how our waste is impacting the planet, we wanted to discuss the difference between Degradable, Biodegradable vs Compostable? And ways we can clean up our act when it comes to reducing waste in our households.
The best way to reduce our waste is to consume less of everything. Most of the commercial items for sale are not a necessity rather a luxury. Our once simplified lives have been changed and it doesn’t mean that we are any happier for it.
Reusing, selling, upcycling, or giving items away can all help the life span of a product. When something is made it impacts our environment, similar goes when it is disposed of. The act of purchasing itself has become a habit. Purchasing something second-hand on platforms like Facebook Marketplace or Gumtree can not only slow the mass production of various items but save these items from going into wasteland. After all, if you can upcycle a cupboard with a bit of DIY craft, then why not!
What is Compostable?
Composting is the process of recycling organic waste so that it can eventually be reused. Simply meaning it can be turned into compost capable of disintegrating into soil without leaving toxicity in the soil.
Compostable materials are similar to biodegradable as they are both intended to return to the earth safely. While biodegradable materials are designed to break down in landfills, compostable materials require special composting conditions.
What is Biodegradable?
Biodegradation is the breakdown of organic matter by microorganisms, such as bacteria and fungi. Biodegradable bags are made from plant-based materials like corn and wheat starch rather than petroleum. However certain conditions are required before the process beings, this includes increased temperature over 50 degrees and UV light exposure. There's no ecological harm during the process.
There are two main types of biodegradable plastics these are;
- Oxo-biodegradable – When additives are put into plastic that will make plastic break down by oxidation.
- Hydro-biodegradable – Are plastics made from plant sources such as starch.
What is Degradable?
Degradable means they do not require living organisms to break down. Chemical additives are used in plastic to make it crumble more quickly than it would otherwise.
Degradable bags cannot be classed as biodegradable or compostable. Instead, chemical additives used in the plastic allow the bag to break down quicker than a standard plastic bag usually would. Over time these become tiny pieces of microplastic. These can still enter the food chain getting eaten by smaller species and then continuing to make their way up the food chain.
Food Storage Tips
Storing food correctly can optimise its shelf-life, therefore reducing waste that goes into landfill. Since we consume so much food in our lifetime here are some simple food storage tips you can include to minimise your waste.
- Use reusable storage bags for things like leftovers or to store food instead of using cling wraps and foil.
- Pack your own or your kid’s lunches in a reusable lunchbox.
- Use reusable food bags to store fresh fruit, veggies, or bread.
- Keep food stored in an airtight container so they avoid soiling at a rapid rate
- Use silicon mats and food covers to avoid disposable covering
- Pat down your greens like lettuce or spinach and place them in an airtight container
- Freeze any fruit or veggies that are ripe to keep in a reusable storage bag. You can add these in a shake, smoothie or have them on hand for longer.
Hacks to Reduce Food Waste
Careful planning and preparation can assist you in creating some great hacks to reduce your food waste. These can easily be implemented into your routine, making them a healthy habit for the planet.
- Purchase wisely look at the amount of packaging used and whether there are alternative options to plastic waste.
- Avoid single-use items.
- Shop your local farmer's markets.
- For a month write a list of the items you buy, to help you understand any unnecessary purchases.
- Take a re-usage bottle or reusable coffee mug with you when you go out.
- Bring your reusable bag whenever you shop.
- Shop at bulk food stores that encourage you to bring your containers or jars.
- Make a compost bin at home for food scraps.
- Use reusable straws or paper-based straws.
- Avoid using plastic plates, cups, and utensils. Go for reusable or bamboo, paper options.
- Drink loose-leaf tea, as teabags have plastic in them.
- Plan your meal to avoid having to waste or throw out food.
- Have a crack at growing your food. This will teach you the value of it.
Plastic Not So Fantastic
All plastics whether it be bioplastic or traditional will biodegrade to a certain extent under suitable conditions, but it may take hundreds of years to do so while producing harmful residues which we are all consuming.
Single-use plastic bags have an average life span of 12 minutes which is pretty scary considering the number of humans on the planet and the amount of plastic we use. Some local supermarkets have come together to offer plastic bag recycling. You can find your nearest location recycling near you.
Remember, the best advice to reduce waste is to minimise, reuse, and recycle. Check out our many reusable products on our website and signup to our newsletter to be part of Evergreen living.