Eco-friendly is a real buzz word these days, with many people looking to reduce their environmental footprint and search for alternatives to items such as plastics. But what does eco-friendly really mean and how can you make a better choice?
Eco-friendly means that a product does not harm the environment in manufacturing, use or disposal, and this can include products such as biodegradable and compostable plastics. These types of products also promote green methods of manufacturing such as using less energy or water and producing less harmful gases.
Is Eco-Friendly The Same As Biodegradable?
Eco-friendly does not mean biodegradable but refers to a suite of products that are better or less harmful for the environment. Eco-friendly essentially means that the materials used will not harm the environment and they were manufactured in an environmentally friendly way.
This means that most types of biodegradable or compostable plastics will typically fall into the eco-friendly category because they:
– Are manufactured in an environmentally friendly way, using less resources (such as water and electricity) and produce less greenhouse gas emission
– Breakdown into the environment either completely or into smaller fragments, meaning they are either completely toxic free or much less toxic than traditional plastics
– Breakdown rapidly in the right environment as opposed to decades or centuries like conventional plastic.
Biodegradable plastics can sometimes be classed as not completely 100 per cent eco-friendly due to them producing levels of methane when they break down and leaving behind some toxicity when they decompose.
Is Eco-Friendly The Same As Compostable?
Compostable plastic is very closely aligned to the definition of eco-friendly, due to its ability to break down completely into a natural state. WIth many ‘bio-plastics’ emerging into the market, it is important to understand that eco-friendly is really about the manufacturing process, material make up and decomposition, including the environment in which they can break down.
Compostable plastics are made to return to the environment when they break down. They also provide nutrients to that environment. They are made from organic materials and decompose quickly with a home or industrial composter.
When disposed of correctly, compostable plastic can provide excellent fertiliser for gardens or land and break down rapidly. However, if you don’t dispose of compostable plastic correctly and drop it in landfill, it will take a long time to decompose like traditional plastic.
What Plastic Alternatives Are Popular?
When you are looking to be more eco-friendly, it is important to also understand the different plastic alternatives, particularly those bioplastics. The most popular and perhaps well-known being biodegradable and compostable plastics.
These come in many different products from plastic bags and trash bags to food containers, cutlery and dog poop bags. But what is the difference between these and normal plastics, and what makes them more eco-friendly?
The difference is in their materials, and ways they break down as well as the environment required.
Are Biodegradable And Compostable Different?
The more eco-friendly of the two is compostable, due to its ability to break down back into its natural environment and leave behind no toxicity. Compostable plastic is an alternative to the typical toxic plastic most popular items such as plastic bags have been made from for decades.
A ‘next-generation’ plastic, compostable plastic is made from renewable materials that will break down when they start to compost. It is important to note that compostable plastic should be disposed of correctly in a composter not in landfill. If disposed of in landfill, it will not break down and will contribute to landfill waste.
Biodegradable plastic is similar to compostable but does not completely break down into natural matter. It is made to break down faster with specially designed microbes that speed up the decomposing process. Biodegradable plastic is also often known as ‘bio-based’ plastic as it still contains some toxic chemicals, unlike compostable plastic.
Biodegradable plastic is often made by extracting the sugar from plants like corn and sugarcane. These are then converted into polylactic acids. Another way to make biodegradable plastic is to engineer it from microorganisms which are made to break down the plastic quicker.
What Does It Take To Be Eco-Friendly?
There are many ways you can be eco-friendly and it all starts at home! Your choices each and every day can contribute to an environmentally friendly lifestyle and living environment.
This can include:
– Recycling your plastics where possible either at home or in waste centres
– Upcycling old products including furniture, clothes and toys
– donating used goods to charity or others in need for a second life
– avoiding disposable products and opting for reusable, biodegradable or compostable
– bringing your own bags to the grocery store such as fabric totes
– buying only things you will use and making mindful choices
– composting at home
– choosing compostable or biodegradable plastics.
How Can You Become More Eco-Friendly?
Take a minute to consider the ways that you can become more eco-friendly in the way you shop, dispose of items or your items at home that can be donated or even upcycled for a second or third use.
- Do you have clothing you could mend instead of disposing of?
- Is there furniture that could be sanded back or painted rather than donated?
- Do you have items you are not using that someone else could enjoy?
- Are there some craft projects you can start with your old items?
- What plastics in your home could you replace with bioplastics or ‘keep’ alternatives?
Also consider whether or not you could create a compost at home or which disposable options you could replace with reusable, biodegradable or compostable. Home composting could save you money on fertiliser as well!
What Are Some Examples Of Eco-Friendly Products?
Some eco-friendly products also fall into the ‘bioplastics’ category which really just means plastic alternatives that are made from renewable sources such as organic materials. Two examples of a bioplastic are compostable plastic and biodegradable plastic. These types of plastics are more sustainable and environmentally friendly than traditional plastics which cause several issues for the environment.
Of course, eco-friendly products can also be products that are recyclable such as your soft drinks and water bottles or upcycling your products at home such as furniture, clothes and toys or electronics. Reusing anything that you can either in your own home or through donation are also great ways to be eco-friendly.
What Eco-Friendly Products Are Popular?
Some products that are eco-friendly include:
– Reusable shopping bags
– Food containers instead of cling wrap or zip lock bags
– Recycled clothing or accessories
– Compostable shopping bags or dog poop bags
– Sustainable dinnerware
– Reusable coffee cups (glass, metal etc)
– Reusable drink bottles
– Normal cutlery over disposables.
Why Choose Eco-Friendly Products?
If you are passionate about reducing your environmental footprint then eco-friendly products are definitely a good option to look into. There are many reasons that you should look for more eco-friendly options to add to your lifestyle including:
– Reduce your landfill contributions
– Reduce your contribution to water waste
– Protect wildlife from ingesting waste
– Reduce your contribution to greenhouse gas production in the manufacturing process
– Encourage reuse and upcycling of products
– Donate used goods where possible to reduce your environmental footprint and help others
– Keep your family and pets safe from toxicity
– Provide jobs in rural areas (through production of bioplastics).
Are Eco-Friendly Products Easy To Buy?
Eco-friendly products are currently replacing many products from food and drink containers to waste and shopping bags. You can currently find a lot of items in your local grocery store, department store or online either as completely reusable, compostable or biodegradable including:
– Food containers
– Drink bottles
– Coffee cups
– Food wraps
– Trash bags
– Shopping bags
– Dog poop bags.
You can also find many of your usual packaging options becoming biodegradable, recycled or compostable. This includes many companies who are repackaging their toiletry bottles (shampoo, soap, detergent etc) and other products.
Some companies are also producing ‘naked’ shampoos, conditioners and body washes which essentially are similar to soap bars in that they require little to no packaging.
Plastic alternatives are still not available for everything though and sometimes can be harder to find or more expensive due to the smaller batches required for manufacturing. As more and more people demand such products though, they will become more accessible and cost reduced.
Are ETSUS Trash Bags Eco-Friendly?
Compostable trash bags are great for the environment with their ability to breakdown into natural matter. ETSUS compostable bags are also a great solution to disposing of your waste while protecting the environment.
These bags are 100 per cent compostable when disposed of in an industrial composting facility or in a home composting environment. By purchasing compostable bags, you are taking excellent steps to dispose of your waste in an eco-friendly and responsible way.
ETSUS trash bags are either compostable or biodegradable and it is your choice which you purchase. The most important thing to consider is whether you will dispose of it in traditional waste or via composter. If you dispose of the bags correctly then you are helping the environment.
What ETSUS Trash Bags Are Currently Available?
Currently available in six-gallon sizes, these compostable bags are the first compostable product in the ETSUS range, which also includes biodegradable dog poop bags and 13-gallon trash bags.
These compostable bags fit in a standard four-to-six-gallon trash can and are 100 per cent compostable and eco-friendly! Made of sustainably grown corn starch, these bags will decompose into natural materials. Consider an ETSUS compostable trash bag next time you’re stocking up.
Rest assured that these bags also meet the U.S. (ASTM D6400) standards for composting in an industrial composting facility and this bag has a lower carbon footprint and lower greenhouse gas emission than PE plastics.
What Issues Do Non-Eco-Friendly Products Cause?
With many products used in our everyday lives made from traditional or conventional plastics which are NOT eco-friendly, it is important to understand how some of these items impact the environment. It is not often as simple as landfill contributions, but can include soil, water and wildlife effects as well.
Plastic is found in medical and food packaging, toys, engineering and building products. For bags such as shopping carry bags, garbage or trash bags and dog poop bags, plastic has been the traditional choice for many years.
Traditional plastic contributes to many environmental issues such as:
– Landfill contributions.
– Toxic leaching into the environment (soil, water).
– Can be toxic for wildlife, animals and humans (at some levels, depending on the plastic).
– Uses raw materials such as crude oil which are not good for the environment.
– Use higher levels of energy and water for manufacturing.
– Releases greenhouse emissions into the environment during manufacturing.
Many traditional plastics cannot be recycled and contribute to not only landfill but are toxic for wildlife and soil. Plastic can take decades, centuries or even thousands of years to break down. Read more about the different types of plastics in this blog.
Eco-friendly essentially means products with little to no environmental impact. This can include products using green methods of manufacturing or able to be recycled, upcycled or used again. Green manufacturing typically uses less water or energy and produces less greenhouse emissions. Eco-friendly also means that the disposal method does not harm the environment – when disposed of correctly.
Bioplastics such as biodegradable or compostable are also classed as somewhat eco-friendly. Biodegradable is not 100 per cent eco-friendly due to its inability to completely break down into natural components.
You can find many alternatives to plastic these days, as people embrace reusable items such as drink bottles, coffee cups and dinnerware. Reusable tote bags for shopping are also being used more and more as people become more aware of their environmental impact.
Upcycling furniture, clothes, accessories and toys is also becoming more popular as people recognise the value in revamping these items for a second or third use.