Compostable Packaging

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So you are doing your best to be more “green,” aka environmentally aware, and you do the good work of eating quality foods, using re-usable bags and carrying your own water bottle. Then there are days when you don’t have time to cook and you’d like to relax and order out, but you find yourself looking dejectedly at all the wasteful food packaging. Now what?

Should you just eat the meal and casually toss aside the containers? Take a break from your good deeds for one day? Out of sight, out of mind? The problem is then the packaging will still end up in a landfill, or in the ocean, or in the belly of a sea creature. Not a pretty picture. What is an enlightened consumer to do?

Aha! Compostable containers to the rescue! Here comes the good news: compostable containers are here AND the benefits of converting extend farther than you might think. The key is knowing the difference between compostable and biodegradable containers.
The words used to describe products can be a little tricky. Manufacturers and retailers sometimes capitalize on the growing interest in renewables with slightly misleading labels. This has been termed “Green Washing.” And the antidote is education.

Biodegradable sounds good, but what it means in commercial terms is that the object will disintegrate, or decompose by biological means, over some period of time. There’s the catch. Most things will biodegrade in time, but it might be a LONG time! For example, plastic can take hundreds and hundreds of years.

For a product to be biodegradable in a useful way, it should break down within a reasonable period of time. It should take a few months, or maybe a year or so. Additionally, all parts of the product should be biodegradable. Some products are created from multiple components, not all of which are biodegrade, and some of which may leave toxic residue. That’s in the fine print.