Here’s a great article from BioCycle magazine about the impressive increase in compostable packaging products that are available to restaurateurs and grocers who want to green up their operations and to individuals who want to green up their homes. This may be the most thorough and informative article written for a general audience that I’ve seen yet but if you’re not interested in all the technical details of different compostable materials, let me share one idea from the piece that caught my eye.
Buzz Chandler, President of Asean, a manufacturer of compostable products, is quoted in the article as saying, “…when something goes to a landfill, it’s being sealed in a mummy’s tomb where nothing goes away.”
Uh-huh. So true. And he’s not just talking about Styrofoam here; he’s talking about his own (and everyone’s) compostable products.
So when your favorite restaurant is conscientious enough to hand you your leftovers in a cardboard carryout, take the box home and compost it, for gosh sakes. If you throw it away, it goes to the landfill, “that mummy’s tomb,” forever. Even though it might not leach poisons into the earth, air and waterways the way Styrofoam does, it takes up space on the planet that nothing else can now use. For–ever.
I told you I would get back to you and let you know if the bioplastic bags I got at Return to Eden actually composted in my barrel. I emptied out the compost last weekend and the bags were still there, fresh and new as the day they were born. They didn’t look a bit like they had spent the last two months in the dark with a bunch of garbage, whirling around in the leaves and peelings on the mornings I got up early enough to turn the barrel before work and then actually remembered to do it, getting squirted with the garden hose and nibbled on by micro-organisms. You’d think they’d show a little wear and tear.
I’m not saying that bags like these won’t compost in a commercial composting operation, but the chances that they’ll ever actually make it to one are extremely small. Taking reusable bags to the grocery with you, and reusable containers to the restaurant for leftovers, is far and away the best route for earth angels to take.
But if you do end up with compostable products that won’t compost in your pile (biobags, indeed!) or if (god forbid) you don’t have a compost pile, you can find a commercial facility near you by clicking here on findacomposter.com.
Then take your stuff there and turn it in to good old reusable dirt. Don’t let it stake a claim on a piece of real estate that could have better things to do than hang out with a bunch of trash.