When you think of the word, “biodegradable,” what comes to mind?
Do you think of materials that decompose on their own, or do you ask yourself, “Why are biodegradable products becoming such a trend?”
If the latter is the thought that crosses your mind, it’s to be expected. Recently the news has been flooded with reports about restaurants and fast food chains banning the use of plastic straws and promoting paper straws. Stores are encouraging customers to bring paper or reusable bags while shopping, and water canteens are taking over. Plastic is slowly being pushed out as we begin to adopt an eco-friendly lifestyle.
Companies and consumers are making this change because they’re starting to realize the destructive impact plastic has on the environment. Plastic takes years to decompose and finds its way into our oceans where it can be consumed by marine wildlife.
As we begin to understand and study what plastic is doing to the environment and our wildlife, it’s becoming easier for people to reduce the plastic they use and switch to biodegradable products. But what exactly does biodegradable mean? In Cambridge Dictionary, biodegradable is defined as something that decays naturally into the environment without causing any damage. Examples of biodegradable materials include paper, bamboo and food waste.
One of the best aspects of biodegradable products is you don’t need to spend a lot of money to begin your eco-friendly journey. You also don’t have to sacrifice the luxuries of your everyday life. So, here are three biodegradable products you can consider that are both easy to use and cost-effective.
Within the United States, it is estimated that between 850 million and a billion toothbrushes are thrown away and end up in landfills every year. These disposals represent more than 50 million pounds of waste, according to EcoPlanet Bamboo, an organization that is leading the movement to make bamboo a viable alternative fiber.
Most toothbrushes aren’t made with biodegradable materials, so like plastic bags they will take years to decay. In a Greenpeace Instagram post, they show a diver in the ocean with two plastic toothbrushes he found. Their caption reads, “Remember your first toothbrush? It’s probably still out there somewhere,” and it really helps you see why so many people are fighting against plastic pollution.
Just think about your relationship with your toothbrush? You’re supposed to change your toothbrush about every three to four months. If you change it that often, that means you’re contributing anywhere from three to four or more toothbrushes to the environment annually. When you multiply that number by how old you are, that’s how many plastic toothbrushes you’ve added to the environment so far.
To reduce the number of toothbrushes you’re adding to landfills, switch to bamboo toothbrushes. There are various types you can choose from. Along with the handle, normally the bristles and packaging are either biodegradable or made from recycled materials.
Bamboo is an effective substance to use because it’s strong and versatile. It also has a fast growing cycle and requires less management, which means it’s less likely to cause soil erosion or damage to the environment.
It also helps that bamboo is 100% biodegradable, meaning it’ll become one with the environment after you use it. Plus, just like your regular toothbrush, it’s great for sensitive teeth and has different textured bristles so you can still get a good cleaning.
2. Sea Sponge
Did you know loofahs are breeding grounds for bacteria? Every time you finish with your loofah, you probably leave it in the shower to dry, right? Well, by doing this, you’re allowing bacteria to make your loofah its home.
When you take a shower, you remove dead skin and dirt from your body. This residue sometimes remains on your loofah and begins to build up the more you use it. The dead skin makes a perfect meal for bacteria that will begin to populate the loofah.
Bacteria likes wet, humid environments with very little ventilation, which is exactly what your bathroom becomes after you shower. Every time you leave your loofah in this environment, more and more bacteria latches on to it. This dynamic means that instead of cleaning your body, you’re spreading bacteria all over you.
Normally loofahs should be changed every three months. If you use loofahs made of plastic fibers, that means you’re throwing away about four loofahs each year that will sit in a landfill for decades to come.
But if you switch to a sea sponge or loofah made from natural materials, you can throw it away every couple of weeks or months and know that the product will decompose. Plus, these sponges are gentle on the skin and great for exfoliation. They also have natural anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties, so you’ll be able to use them for a longer period of time.
We only use plastic bags for about 12 minutes, but a single bag can take around 1,000 years to disintegrate.
Have you ever thought about how you use plastic bags? Maybe you rely on them to hold your lunch or as garbage bags. No matter how you use them, they all end up thrown away after a certain point in time. And once they’re thrown away they find a new purpose: pollution.
Single-use plastic bags and garbage bags can’t break down. Along with the plastic bag, anything you throw in there will also sit within the bag and will potentially cause harm to the environment and wildlife.
When animals such as seabirds and sea turtles consume plastic bags they can feel a “false sensation of fullness or satiation.” Unfortunately plastic bags will stay in their stomach and can cause infections, lead to starvation and even death. This disruption of nature can cause a problem for us, too.
When we eat fish and crustaceans, we’re at risk of ingesting the chemicals they absorbed. This hazard includes possibly consuming fragments of plastic.
A great way to reduce that damage and protect the food we eat is to use compostable waste bags. They’re strong like regular bags, so they can hold your standard amount of trash. The main difference between these sustainable products and regular bags is they will be able to decompose without causing any harm to the environment.
The First Step Is Easy
Even if it’s something as seemingly small as a toothbrush, you can make a difference in the world without giving up the things you love — including clean teeth and a clean body. The first step is being a little more mindful when you shop in the store or online.
Download Our Free Guide to Sustainable Living.
From reducing waste to recycling and upcycling, our e-book shows simple ways to make choices you can feel good about.