Tuesday, April 20, 2010

This Green Home: Compostable Bags

De-plastify your green home with these three key compostable additions!

Plastic is becoming a foreign element to any green home. What is replacing it you ask? The EPA’s 4 R’s of course: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and Rethink. First, individual consumers are reducing their initial consumption of “stuff” in general from home makeovers to trinkets. The combination of the economy and environmental awareness (along with that little thing called a “bag tax”) have helped us ethical consumers get a kick start on our “Reduce”.

The advent of reusing and recycling is also in full swing! With vintage here, reusable bag there, and “this used to be a water bottle” sign everywhere we are finally closing the loop. It is this fourth “R” that is helping us give unnecessary plastic the final boot from our green homes. Rethink!

We still need bags to take out the trash, clean up doggie do, and clean up yard waste. First they were paper, then the advent of the plastic changed all of that, and now we are happily transitioning into the world of “compostable” once again. The Biodegradable Product Institute‘s certification can help the average consumer differentiate between compostable “claims” and reality.

The top 3 compostable bag products I recommend for your green home include:

  1. Lawn & leaf bags
  2. Trash bags
  3. Animal bags for dog waste or litter boxes.

Compostable lawn and leaf bags were actually mandated in the State of Minnesota this year, with many State’s planning to follow suit. For those who do not compost, or have too many compostable materials to do so, packing up your organics in a nice and compostable bags is a great and quick way to be green! These are the most readily reused nutrients in our system, making this an easy and important step for any green home.

Now trash bags may not seem quite as logical at first since most trash is thrown into landfills. Yet upon closer inspection, the majority of trash sits at the top of a landfill pile for 3-5 days, the exact time it takes for BPI certified compostable bags to biodegrade. This reduces the amount of plastic used, an important factor as we learn more about landfills leaching into groundwater and soil. Although most landfills are 'sealed' meaning that even newspapers, a highly biodegradable item, are still found intact after decades, there will be less plastic. As plastic biodegrades it leaves behind toxic compounds both as solids and in gaseous states. This is a key area to reduce the plastic in your green home.

Can pets really create that much waste? As an animal lover, I have come to terms with the unfortunate fact that their waste can have a significant impact. Although not recommended for a household compost pile, pet waste collected with compostable bags or liners can immediately reduce your pet's impact.

These three easy steps can help “de-plastify” your green home, making it both more ecologically-friendly and people-friendly!

Photo Credit: Sustainable Sarasota

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