Biodegradable vs Compostable


It’s easy to find products labeled eco-friendly or biodegradable, but it is also that easy to print them on products. The term eco-friendly (also environmentally friendly) has been abused since the environmental movement began in the 1960s. It also doesn’t help that the definition is vague – it could mean reduced, minimal, or no harm on the environment. Large corporations have since then used these terms shamelessly having allocated more funds on marketing themselves as green rather than actually exercising green policies. This is called greenwashing.

The term biodegradable describes a material that can be consumed by microorganisms which can break down the material organically… eventually. This process may also produce CO2, vapor, methane, etc. Biodegradable is also easily thrown around. Most plastics are biodegradable, but will it biodegrade? Maybe. With the right conditions. In their own time – it could take 3 months or 300 years. Will they reach the composting facilities? Will they reach the recycling centers? Most will not. It can be seen how the term biodegradable can be misleading.  So what should we look for instead? If you want to be truly eco-friendly, focus instead on what you can actually control. Choose compostable.

Compostable materials produce no methane, which is 25 times the global warming potential of CO2, when decomposing. They leave no toxic residue behind by breaking down into nutrient-rich soil which can be used as fertilizer. Compostable materials should break down in 90 days on average with the right conditions. All compostable materials are biodegradable, but not all biodegradable materials are compostable.

In a fast-paced world, it is easy to be swept by endless options and last-minute decisions. However, it doesn’t hurt to take a second to breathe, and think of the impact of our choices. In fact, it is more helpful to be critical of all our decisions so that we can future-proof our earth not only for the generations to come, but also for nature itself of which we are stewards. Choose compostable. Choose bamboo. Choose karunaki.
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With love and compassion, 
Team Karunaki