Courtesy of Mother Earth News

Photo: Mother Earth News

W2O knows that there are a variety of newly manufactured products claiming to be safe for the environment. Remember, reusable non-plastic items are still the best option. First off, a brief explanation of the difference between “compostable” and biodegradable.” Both of these terms refer to material breaking down in suitable conditions, but only compostable materials return nutrients to the soil in the process. Biodegradable products can leave a residue of metals or toxins.

Bioplastics, sometimes referred to as corn, vegetable or microbiota products, are not easily compostable and although they will breakdown in perfect landfill conditions, they still leave behind particles that make their way to our oceans. The table above, from Mother Earth News, shows examples of unsuccessful home composting (even with a warm 77* temp.) As you can  see, after 25 weeks, the material is hardly decomposed. (The entire article is worth a read!)

Forks, Knives, Picnic Fair! Is Compostable Cutlery REALLY breaking down?  According to this interesting article/radio commentary by Capital Public Radio and Lesley McClurg, “compostable” cutlery is big business ($30 million annually) and really depends where you toss it out.

Courtesy of Capital Public Radio

Photo: Capital Public Radio

So, keep in mind that most products used in “green” alternatives for plastic do not magically disappear-the materials used breakdown and end up in our waterways and ocean. The best choice always is a reusable non-plastic item. Good for you, good for our oceans.