I was recently asked the questions: Is wrapping paper recyclable?
I did not know the answer to this question, but as I started researching it and thinking about the question, I started to realise that although the question was well intentioned, we are missing the point.
Plastic pollution is a current global crisis. Recycling is not the solution to solving this problem.
We need to change our behaviour to be more intentional.
We need to be asking the questions: Do I really need this? Where does it come from? Is it re-usable if I do buy it; is there an alternative to this product that is more environmentally-friendly? (What does that even mean?)
There are so many products out there claiming to be compostable, natural, biodegradable, bio-compostable, ecofriendly, green, organic. But do we really know what these labels all mean?
To help you get a better grasp of these commonly popular and trendy terms I have a brief description below.
Please note that this is my own research and not to be taken out of context. There are experts out there who will be able to give much more comprehensive answers and definitions. I am simply trying to give a basic understanding to these buzz words and help you to think a little more carefully before simply picking off the shelf.
Biodegradable: biodegradable products may be broken down by micro-organisms, but this does not necessarily imply that the product can be converted into good quality compost. A “biodegradable” product has the ability to break down, safely and relatively quickly, by biological means, into the raw materials of nature and disappear into the environment.
Compostable: There are certain criteria that products need to fit in order to be compostable, but in a nutshell, the product needs to return to the earth, without causing harm.
Eco-friendly: Eco-friendly simply means that the product is not harmful to the environment. Usually eco-friendly products take into account environmental and human safety. This is a buzz word often overused so be careful to read the packaging carefully.
Organic: Products listed as ‘organic’ do not use artificial products or chemicals to grow foods. This is another buzz word and the process of fulfilling criteria is very specific and often foods that claim to be organic have not gone through all the necessary criteria.
For more information this is a helpful link: http://www.greengood.com/terms_to_know/biodegradable_and_compostable_definitions.htm
So next time you go shopping, allow a little extra time to read the labels
So next time you go shopping, allow a little extra time to read the labels and think carefully about what happens to the packaging you ‘throw away’ or recycle before purchasing.
Good luck, get creative and live deeply, tread lightly!