Wondering if your stuff is biodegradable? Yeah, us too. In a world that is becoming more eco-friendly and environmentally conscious, it’s more important than ever to know what’s biodegradable and what is not.
So in this post, we want to give you short, sweet, and simple answers to the most commonly searched questions regarding whether or not a product/material is biodegradable. We’ll also offer eco-friendly tips for each answer we provide so that you can start making eco-conscious changes today!
We will try to cover the most popular product types in each section, but we know that we won’t manage to capture everything. If you feel like we missed something important, just let us know in the comments below and we’ll look into amending this post.
As a final note, this post will continue to be updated and refined with new products/materials as they come out, so make sure to bookmark it!
Without further delay, let’s jump right in!
The Ultimate Cheat Sheet On Biodegradable Materials
Are Cigarette Butts Biodegradable?
No, cigarette butts are not biodegradable.
Cigarette butts are made from plasticized cellulose acetate. This compound does not biodegrade in natural materials. In fact, the butt of a cigarette is home to many toxic compounds like nicotine, arsenic, lead, copper, and other harmful chemicals.
That’s not to say that the butt won’t break down, though. When exposed to sunlight over a long period, it will degrade into small particles. Unfortunately, these particles do not disappear and are usually swept into soil or water, polluting the environment.
Don’t smoke. It’s bad for you and the environment (obviously).
But if you choose to smoke anyways, consider recycling your cigarette waste through TerraCycle. They offer a cigarette waste recycling program that can be done anywhere.
Are Banana Peels Biodegradable?
Yes, banana peels are biodegradable. However, they take a long time to break down.
The decomposition process starts with microorganisms. As a rule of thumb, anything that would be tough for animals to eat isn’t much easier for microorganisms. And since banana peels are very fibrous, they naturally resist breaking down.
As a result, it takes a while for banana peels to fully biodegrade. On average, it will take 2 years for a banana peel to break down.
This number is smaller if other animals/insects assist in the process (eating the peel) and/or if the environment helps out (tropics are better for decomposition, as an example).
This number grows if the peel is left alone in an environment that doesn’t facilitate biodegradation (landfills are the worst offender).
Consider composting banana peels instead. All you have to do is get a compost bin, fill it up halfway with dead leaves, and then add any food waste.
The waste will biodegrade within weeks as opposed to years, and the resulting compost can be used to garden or donated to farmers.
Are Paper Towels Biodegradable?
Generally yes, paper towels are biodegradable. However, this is dependent on several key factors.
Paper towels are made from cellulose fibers. These fibers are made from cotton, wood, and various plants, all of which are natural and can decompose fairly easily.
But it depends on what the paper towels are used for. If papers towels are used to clean organic wastes (food messes, drink spills, etc.), then they biodegrade without much trouble. But if the paper towels are used to clean messes containing chemicals that could interfere with the degradation process, then that could be a problem.
Paper towels that contain certain chemicals (chlorine, parabens, etc.) as a part of their composition are also unlikely to be biodegradable or eco-friendly.
Use eco-friendly alternatives to traditional paper towels. There are plenty of paper towel brands out there that are specifically designed to be biodegradable and/or compostable.
And if you have your own compost bin, you can dispose of used paper towels in there provided that they weren’t used to clean anything problematic.
Are Latex Balloons Biodegradable?
Latex balloons are “technically” biodegradable, but they aren’t considered eco-friendly. Helium balloons and water balloons made with latex are also biodegradable but not eco-friendly.
We all know that Mylar balloons are pretty bad. They aren’t biodegradable and are made from chemicals that actively harm the environment.
But what about latex? Isn’t it supposed to be a 100% natural, biodegradable material?
Yes. Natural latex is amazing as a biodegradable material. It’s certainly better than traditional plastic, which pretty much never biodegrades.
However, latex still takes a long time to completely degrade.
2 to 4 years on average, to be exact. And during that time, it’s incredibly easy for that latex material to do a ton of harm to animal life in an environment.
Many animals mistake the leftover balloon pieces for food. This material is not digestible and wreaks havoc on an animal’s digestive system.
The strings attached to said balloons have also been responsible for strangling animals unfortunate enough to get wrapped up in them.
It’s clear that these balloons, while “biodegradable”, are 100% NOT eco-friendly.
You can find more information in this post.
Consider using balloon alternatives. Fans, flags, pinwheels, and other craft-based decorations can add a ton of visual value to any event or celebration.
If the idea of giving up balloons forever is too difficult, then ensure that they are used responsibly. After a balloon has been used, manually pop it and dispose of it in the appropriate waste container or compost bin.
Never, ever let balloons go. That is pollution and will always harm the environment. Nothing is worse than balloons pieces ending up in the water, as even latex will not break down in a marine environment.
Are Coffee Filters Biodegradable?
Yes, paper coffee filters are biodegradable. However, there are some eco-conscious things to keep in mind.
Paper coffee filters are made from fibrous pulp, which typically comes from fast-growing trees. Under normal conditions, this pulp is totally biodegradable even in paper form.
But even though it’s biodegradable, it won’t fully degrade on its own for several years (2 to 4 is a safe assumption). And while this paper isn’t as harmful to the environment as some other materials, it’s still better to keep it out of nature as much as possible.
Some companies will add chemicals to their paper in order to improve the product’s appeal (bleaching with elemental chlorine is an example). This can negatively impact the biodegradation rate and add harmful chemicals to the environment.
*Note: coffee grounds are also biodegradable and compostable. They provide essential nutrients for plant growth and make for excellent additions to any compost.
Consider composting paper coffee filters instead of throwing them away. The grounds that are caught in the filters are nutrient-rich and great for compost. The filters themselves, assuming that they aren’t swimming in added chemicals, also have no problem decomposing in a compost unit.
It takes about 6 to 8 months for paper filters to fully compost.
Plastic filters should be avoided. They are terrible for the environment and do not biodegrade.
Metallic filters are great since they are reusable, which helps reduce waste generation. Just make sure that they are well-cleaned after each use for the best results.
Are Flushable Wipes Biodegradable?
Only true, certified “flushable” wipes are biodegradable. There is a lot of false marketing regarding the biodegradability of flushable wipes.
Flushable wipes are made out of non-woven materials, which usually means natural cellulose and man-made fibers. They are designed to be strong even when wet, which leads to some complications.
How can a product designed to stay strong while wet disintegrate in water? Well, the answer is that they usually can’t.
Flushable wipes have a sour history. While no one can deny their immense usefulness in everyday living, their role as biodegradable products has been shoddy at best.
Many wipes that claim to be “biodegradable” and “flushable” don’t actually disintegrate in water. They go through the pipes like any other material and can get stuck in pipes.
After a while, the blockage grows in size and clogs the entire pipe, leading to an expensive plumber bill.
In order for a flushable wipe to be considered biodegradable, it needs to be formulated to degrade in water after an extended period of time. A wipe that is GD3 or GD4 compliant meets strict flushability standards and is classified as “truly biodegradable”.
It’s best to stick to tissue paper when dealing with flushable messes. Your sewage system will thank you for not flushing problematic materials, even if they claim to be flushable.
If the idea of parting with flushable wipes is too painful, make sure to pick up flushable wipes that have the right certifications. GD3 or GD4 compliant wipes are the best options as they’ve been proven to disintegrate in water.
Please note that flushable wipes cannot be composted.
Are Paper Plates Biodegradable?
Generally, yes. Paper plates are biodegradable, though chemical treatment can negatively impact the environment during degradation. They typically take a long time to biodegrade on their own.
Paper plates are made from wood pulp, which is packed with fibrous materials that help keep its sturdy shape. This pulp is biodegradable and will break down in about 5 years according to the New York City Department of Sanitation.
Like other paper-based products, treatment with chemicals is common in order to boost consumer appeal. Chemicals like elemental chlorine, phthalates, and parabens have a negative impact on both the environment and human health.
Always check to make sure your paper plates are free from such chemicals. Stick with paper plates that claim to be eco-friendly and can prove it with certifications.
You can find more information here.
Consider composting paper plates, especially if they claim to be biodegradable or compostable. Depending on the brand and other factors, paper plates will fully decompose in 6 weeks to 5 months.
The resulting compost is great for gardens and plants. If you have no use for it, then consider donating your compost to a farmer.
Are Paper Straws Biodegradable?
Yes, paper straws are biodegradable and compostable.
Paper straws can be made out of tons of different plant materials including bamboo, sugarcane, and other plant resins. These materials are easily composted and will be broken down in about 180 days (depending on the brand).
Paper straws take a few years to completely biodegrade on their own.
In terms of biodegradability, paper straws are far superior compared to plastic straws. Plastic straws can last hundreds of years without decomposing, even longer while in the ocean. Even in less-than-ideal environments, paper straws will still decompose. It will just take longer.
You can find more information here.
It’s best to compost paper straws when possible.
If paper straws end up in a landfill, they won’t be able to biodegrade due to the landfill’s lack of oxygen. You can compost them at home with a home compost unit or at dedicated composting facilities.
Are Water Beads Biodegradable?
Water beads (also called hydro-gels or gel beads) like Orbeez are 100% biodegradable and eco-friendly.
Water beads are made from water that’s been fastened together by polymers through specific chemical reactions. And we don’t have to tell you that water is biodegradable.
To be specific, there are a few chemicals that get released over time: nitrogen, carbon dioxide, and water. These are all eco-friendly chemical compounds, all of which can easily be found in nature.
Sunlight, heat, and anything else that can cause water to dehydrate will help water beads break down. Most water beads like Orbeez are reusable, meaning that they can be rehydrated for later use.
If left in the sunlight, the beads will eventually biodegrade completely.
You can find more information here.
Not all water beads are created equal. It’s important to make sure that that there is a claim of “100% biodegradable” that’s been proven by reputable certifiers.
Since water beads are good at slowly releasing water over time, they are ideal for plants that require constant, yet controlled amounts of water. The nitrogen and carbon dioxide don’t hurt, either. It’s common to see the beads used in gardens for this very purpose.
But keep in mind that water beads are susceptible to bacteria and other pathogens that enjoy moist environments. If they smell funky or “off”, that’s a pretty good indicator that it’s time to get rid of them.
Are Cotton Balls Biodegradable?
The biodegradability of cotton balls depends on the brand. Some are biodegradable, some are not. But in general, naturally-made cotton balls are considered biodegradable and compostable.
Let’s talk about cotton real quick. Cotton as a natural resource is 100% biodegradable. It’s one of the most widespread eco-friendly materials in the world and is used in hundreds of thousands of different products. It’s worth mentioning that cotton is compostable, too.
So you might think that cotton balls are biodegradable by extension. After all, aren’t they just balls of cotton?
Well, yes and no.
While cotton is biodegradable and eco-friendly, this is only the case if the cotton stays natural. Frequent use of pesticides and treatment with chemicals can hurt a cotton ball’s biodegradability, health safety, and eco-friendliness.
It’s worth noting that cotton balls used for makeup application cannot biodegrade OR be composted.
They cannot biodegrade because the chemicals in the makeup will prevent the balls from doing so in any reasonable amount of time. They also cannot be composted as the makeup will ruin the integrity of the compost.
Consider using organic cotton balls over highly-processed (usually cheap) ones. For organic cotton balls, the cotton is mostly intact and their biodegradability isn’t ruined with chemical treatment.
Avoid applying makeup with single-use cotton balls. Instead, try using reusable cotton-based applicators and washing them. You’ll be saving money and the environment with this simple switch.
Are Orange Peels Biodegradable?
Yes, orange peels are 100% biodegradable and compostable. They tend to fully decompose within 6 months, though this can change depending on the environment.
Orange peels, like banana peels, are completely biodegradable. An orange peel will typically biodegrade in about 6 months, though this is entirely dependent on the environment.
In drier climates, orange peels can last indefinitely. Yep, they can stick around forever. Insects won’t help break them down since orange peels contain a natural insecticide, interestingly enough. Animals aren’t typically interested in eating them, either.
In most cases, orange peels will completely biodegrade within a year. But in some areas, orange peels are likely to just sit on the ground, waiting years for microorganisms to finally break it down.
Consider composting orange peels. They are nutrient-rich and make for an excellent addition to any compost unit.
If you have a garbage disposal, consider tossing the peels in there and chopping them up. It will release an aroma of orange-y goodness while manually breaking down the pieces for easier degradation.
You could also boil the peels with water and cinnamon to fill your home with a wonderful aroma. If you want to get really fancy, you can use peels to keep sugar from clumping or even use the peels as part of an eco-friendly cleaner.
The sky is the limit!
Are Paper Bags Biodegradable?
Yes, paper bags are biodegradable and compostable. Like other wood-based products, they tend to naturally decompose fairly quickly. Paper bags will fully biodegrade within a few months, shorter in optimal environments.
Their position as an eco-friendly alternative to plastic, however, is debatable.
It’s no secret that plastic sucks. It takes 400 to 1,000 years for a plastic bag to decompose, by which time the environment would certainly suffer.
But is paper any better? While paper bags can biodegrade within months, there are still some issues plaguing these bags.
For starters, these bags are made from trees. This means that forests must be cut down to make these bags. To combat this problem, most companies choose to source their trees from a sustainable forest, reducing the negative impact by a large margin.
Paper bags also require 4x more energy to make than plastic bags. Natural resources usually take more time, energy, and money compared to synthetic sources.
Finally, paper bags should be reused at least 2x to balance out their environmental impact. But since paper bags are flimsier than plastic bags, they tend to rip before they can be reused.
That said, they are still miles better than plastic bags. Paper bags biodegrade within months as opposed to weeks for plastic. That alone makes them superior in the eco-friendliness department. As long as they are ethically sourced, paper bags make for a good alternative to plastic.
You can find more information here.
Consider reusing your paper bags as much as possible. The more times they have been reused, the better it is for the environment. If you have a ton of them, you can turn them into an arts and crafts project.
And if you must toss them, consider composting them instead. As long as they aren’t exposed to chemicals, they’ll make excellent compost. Keep them out of landfills, as they not only don’t biodegrade but are also poor forming a sturdy foundation in landfills.
Are Pistachio Shells Biodegradable?
Yes, pistachio shells are 100% biodegradable. However, it takes many years for them to naturally break down.
Pistachio shells have a very small carbon footprint since they are only comprised of one ingredient (two, if they are salted). These shells are quite hard and will generally resist breaking down even in an ideal environment. They can last years even in compost units.
The good news is that the shells are harmless to the environment. Animals that eat nuts will have no problem chowing down on the shells, while other animals will steer clear of them as usual.
You can still add the shells to a compost unit as long as you are willing to get physical.
To make sure that they break down relatively quickly, it’s best to crush and grind them down. Doing so greatly improves the rate at which the shells will biodegrade.
Just make sure that any salted shells are washed before crushing and adding to the compost unit, otherwise, you risk ruining the integrity of the compost.
Are Clay Pigeons Biodegradable?
Traditional clay pigeons are non-biodegradable due to their chemical composition. However, some manufacturers specialize in modern, biodegradable clay pigeons.
The term “clay pigeon” is a bit misleading as they aren’t actually made of clay. Clay pigeons are made from petroleum pitch, a black tar-like substance that is molded into shape. Once the pitch settles, paint is applied to turn it into what we know today.
Unfortunately, these materials are non-biodegradable. They can break down to the point where you can’t see them, but they never truly decompose. As they sink into the soil, they leech nutrients from the soil, killing plant growth and providing a toxic environment for wildlife.
Thankfully, there are eco-friendly alternatives. Some companies provide biodegradable clay pigeons that do safely decompose into the soil.
The only thing to watch out for is that, over time, the remains of clay pigeons will decrease the pH of the soil and make it more acidic.
This can lead to the death of pesky weeds but also trees and grass. In areas where there is plenty of grass and trees, this is something to keep in mind.
It’s best to use biodegradable clay pigeons whenever possible, as they are clearly the best option for the environment. There are also other kinds of biodegradable targets that you can use. The benefits for the environment are well worth it.
These products are designed to be interchangeable with traditional clay pigeons, so you don’t have to worry about ruining your performance either.
Are Contact Lenses Biodegradable?
No, contact lenses are not biodegradable due to their composition.
Modern contact lenses are made from silicone hydrogel, a plastic that can readily absorb water. And like most plastics, silicone hydrogel does not biodegrade or decompose for hundreds of years.
Does that mean using contact lenses is inherently non-eco-friendly? Not exactly.
Bausch + Lomb partnered with TerraCycle to create a recycling program for Bausch + Lomb brand contact lenses. The program isn’t limited to just their brand though, as all contact lenses are acceptable for this program.
It doesn’t cost you anything to do it, either.
All of the supplies needed to take advantage of the recycling program are given to you at no cost. There’s no reason to toss your old contact lenses into the trash anymore.
It’s important to note that contact lenses shouldn’t be thrown away OR recycled with other plastics. If you want to dispose of them in an eco-friendly manner, it’s best to use TerraCycle’s recycling program to do it.
Better yet, stick to reusable contact lenses and stop using disposable ones. They’ll save you money in the long run and keep tons of plastic out of landfills.
That sounds like a win-win!
Are K-Cups Biodegradable?
Traditional K-Cups are non-biodegradable and not eco-friendly. However, there are alternatives that fit the bill for eco-savvy people.
K-Cups (also known as Keurig cups) are incredibly popular coffee pods that dish out a tasty brew in less than a minute. Their convenience, ease of use, and short brewing time make them extremely popular in a world growing ever busier.
But as an eco-friendly product, most of them don’t stand up. The cups are made with plastic that can last hundreds of years and even longer in certain environments like landfills and oceans.
They are highly destructive for wildlife in particular, as they can ingest the cups (or their remains) and suffer severe health issues.
Traditional K-Cups are also rather difficult to recycle due to the organic material left behind after a successful brew.
However, hope is not lost.
Some manufacturers make biodegradable and eco-friendly coffee pods. While these pods may not have the same appeal and range of choices that K-Cups do, they are much better for the environment and often taste better too.
And if you really want to put a stop to the K-Cup pollution menace, you can buy reusable coffee pods too. These require a bit more prep work and clean-up on your end, but the results are well worth it!
Switching to biodegradable K-Cups is a good start to embracing a greener way of making coffee.
If you want to take it a step further, reusable coffee pods are the way to go. There’s no better way to save the environment than by cutting down on waste period.
If you really want to get eco-friendly, you could crush up your own coffee grounds and make your cups from scratch. It doesn’t take that much work and is pretty easy once you’ve down it a few times.
The grounds are biodegradable and are a good way to add nitrogen to your compost. We recommend giving it a shot!
Are Latex Gloves Biodegradable?
While latex is a biodegradable material, latex gloves are typically non-biodegradable due to chemical treatment and processing.
Latex gloves suffer the same problem that latex balloons have. The biodegradability of natural latex is negatively impacted when chemical treatment and other processing steps are performed on the gloves.
In order to improve the quality of the gloves, biodegradability is usually sacrificed. As a result, it can take decades for latex gloves to decompose even in ideal environments.
Despite this, there are gloves out there that claim to be biodegradable and eco-friendly. These claims may or may not be true.
It’s important to check whether the product has the appropriate certifications to back up the claims. Otherwise, you should assume that the company isn’t being honest.
You can find more information here.
It can be difficult to find biodegradable, eco-friendly disposable gloves. We recommend sticking to reusable gloves, as these can be washed and maintained for long periods.
If you are using gloves in an environment that requires constant changing, then try to find eco-friendly disposable gloves. If they don’t exist for your needs, then try to purchase gloves from companies that support eco-friendly practices.
Sometimes, it may just be impossible. We recognize the limitation of going green with disposable gloves and hope that more solutions present themselves in the coming years.
Are Napkins Biodegradable?
Both paper napkins and cloth napkins are biodegradable and compostable, though there are limitations depending on what the napkins are used to wipe up.
Paper napkins are usually made from trees and recycled paper materials, both of which are 100% biodegradable. Some manufacturers make napkins from more sustainable sources like plant fibers, which eliminates the consumption of trees as raw materials and is also biodegradable.
Cloth napkins can be made from cotton, flaxseed, or even hemp. These materials are also 100% biodegradable. Cloth napkins require more resources to maintain than single-use paper napkins but cut down on the waste significantly.
Each one has its pros and cons.
For large events or businesses that have customers coming through, it’s best to use paper napkins made from sustainable raw materials. They are convenient, eco-friendly, and beloved by the masses.
For personal use, a cloth napkin will serve you better. The resources needed to clean and dry a cloth napkin are less than the resources required to manufacture hundreds of paper napkins.
Both can be composted, but there are limitations to this. If either napkin is used to wipe up grease or other problematic messes, it could ruin the integrity of the compost and cause unnecessary problems.
Stay away from those stiff, decorative napkins. They are not made with materials that can be composted and aren’t nearly as eco-friendly as traditional napkins.
Also make sure to choose napkins that have not been whitened by elemental chlorine or treated with any nasty chemicals, as that could cause health problems down the road.
If possible, keep paper napkins and cloth napkins out of the trash. That garbage ends up in a landfill, which is not good for biodegradation or composting.
We recommend sticking with recycled paper napkins if the idea of washing a cloth napkin all the time is unappealing. If you don’t mind a bit of washing, a cloth napkin will be an excellent option.
Either way, you’ll be contributing to a healthier environment.
Are Q-tips Biodegradable?
Yes, Q-tips are biodegradable and compostable. However, some important factors can change whether or not Q-tips are truly eco-friendly.
Q-tips (also known as cotton buds) are predominantly made of cotton throughout the whole stick. Natural cotton is biodegradable, though it would take a few years for Q-tips to fully decompose. Cotton is also compostable and biodegrades much faster in compost bins (a few months to a year on average).
Cotton has its fair share of problems, however. It’s heavily dosed in pesticides, which are incredibly toxic and long-lasting. Cheap cotton is more likely to have this issue than higher-priced cotton.
Cotton is also heavy on resources when manufactured and tends to generate a larger carbon footprint.
It’s worth noting that sometimes Q-tips come with plastic handles instead of a cotton stick. Plastic handles are not biodegradable or compostable, though they can probably be recycled. It’s best to check for doing so, as this may depend on the brand.
There are certainly more eco-friendly alternatives available.
Some manufacturers make cotton buds out of bamboo instead of cotton, which is more sustainable and doesn’t require nearly as much chemical treatment.
These bamboo buds are also pretty sturdy. They don’t absorb water as much as cotton does, so they retain their structure longer in the same environments.
If you plan on using Q-tips for any kind of makeup, do not use them for compost.
Q-tips that are contaminated with chemicals that come from makeup will ruin the integrity of the compost. We recommend using reusable cloth/cotton applicators for makeup instead.
Consider using bamboo buds instead of cotton buds. They offer a host of benefits for you and the environment. They also don’t come at a significantly higher price, so it’s easier on your wallet.
People who switch rarely ever go back.
Are Crocs Biodegradable?
No, crocs are not biodegradable, compostable, or recyclable. They are not eco-friendly in the slightest. But when repurposed, the shoes’ negative impact on the environment can be greatly reduced.
Crocs are made from a unique material known as Croslite™. This is a type of plastic resin that’s incredibly durable while retaining good flexibility.
Unfortunately, this material is also non-biodegradable, non-compostable, and non-recyclable. Despite being made of plastic, this type of plastic cannot be recycled by itself OR with other plastic. If you toss your crocs into a recycling bin, you would be contaminating the entire lot.
The only thing to do with crocs is to repurpose them.
Tired of using your worn-down crocs? Try repurposing them instead! You can use them as gardening shoes and even as strangely unique plant holders (the holes might make that a bit hard, though.)
We recommend that you get creative with your crocs. You can even cut it down and use the material for arts and crafts. Just make sure to hold onto them, as they’ll only be a burden to the world in a landfill.
Crocs are on the way out anyway (when was the last time you saw someone wearing them?), but we hope that someone finds a way to make them more eco-friendly in the future.
Are Golf Balls Biodegradable?
No, traditional golf balls are absolutely not biodegradable or compostable. They take hundreds of years to break down and are a huge burden on the environment.
However, there are eco-friendly alternatives designed to minimize negative environmental impact.
Traditional golf balls are mostly made out of plastic and rubber raw materials. 2-piece balls have the core with a layer, 3-piece balls have a core with two layers, and so on.
The core is made from a strong rubber material and is layered with a thermoplastic cover (usually an ionomer resin, which is just a form of plastic).
So it’s no surprise that these golf balls are TERRIBLE for the environment. According to research conducted by the Danish Golf Association, golf balls can take 100 to 1000 years to naturally decompose.
Each golf ball is equivalent in mass to 7 plastic bags or 3 plastic water bottles, and there are hundreds of thousands of them in our oceans and lakes.
Solid core golf balls end up leaking heavy metals into the environment, poisoning fauna and flora alike.
Rubber cores aren’t much better, either. As the cover disintegrates in water, the core can unravel itself up to 300 yards and float to the surface. As the core starts to degrade, it releases microplastics that are accidentally consumed by marine life.
Over time, the plastic ends up in our food chain. And we don’t know about you guys, but the idea of munching on some plastic doesn’t sound too appealing.
Thankfully, there are better ways of getting your golf on without endangering the environment. Several manufacturers offer biodegradable and/or eco-friendly golf balls.
These balls are made with natural materials and are designed to replace traditional golf balls without suffering performance loss.
Dixon golf balls are made with heavy earth salts instead of heavy metals. This prevents any poisoning and keeps the environment safe. Better yet, they are fully recyclable. The company also utilizes sustainable practices and constantly pushes for greener golfing.
Just know that these balls are not certified for biodegradation and will stay in the environment for a long time (not as long as plastic balls, though).
Ecobioball golf balls are single-use golf balls that dissolve into fish food after 48 hours of plunging into the water. These balls are also safe for both fauna and flora, making them 100% eco-friendly.
The only problem is that these balls are do not perform nearly as well as normal golf balls, which can be a problem if you play competitively. These balls are best used for fun, stress-free golfing days only.
The choices don’t stop there! With a little exploring, you’ll see that there are plenty of options for greener golfing.
Just make sure to stay away from traditionally plastic golf balls if you care about the environment.
Are Eggshells Biodegradable?
While there are claims that support both sides, it’s generally accepted that eggshells are NOT biodegradable. However, they ARE compostable and can be broken down in certain environments.
Eggshells are made from calcium carbonate. This compound is naturally resistant to breaking down, even over long periods. Just look at these eggs that archaeologists discovered after 1,700 years!
With that in mind, eggshells aren’t really bad for the environment. They just kind of exist.
When crushed up, they are pretty similar to micro-plastics in how they don’t really go away even when you can’t see them. But unlike micro-plastics, eggshells don’t cause any harm.
Did you know that eggshells are great additions to composts?
It’s true. Eggshells are an excellent source of calcium, which is highly sought-after in the world of composting.
They are typically crushed into tiny pieces and added to the compost. Crushing the shells overall increases the surface area, which leads to faster degradation.
We recommend air-drying them for a day or two, then crushing them into a fine powder (mortar and pestle work wonders if you are dedicated).
Note: make sure that your compost unit generates enough heat to kill pathogenic microbes. Otherwise, eggshells containing Salmonella can infect the compost, ruining the compost and creating a breeding ground for a bad health problem.
Are Glassine Bags Biodegradable?
Yes, glassine bags are biodegradable, compostable, and recyclable.
Glassine is made from sulfite wood pulp that’s been beaten, hydrated, and then supercalendered (repeatedly put through a series of pressure rollers). The pulp is entirely eco-friendly in its natural state, though it likely takes at least a year to fully biodegrade.
This material, along with other paper-based materials, can be added to compost immediately after use. It’s also recyclable for people who prefer to do so.
When waxed or chemically treated, glassine loses its biodegradability and isn’t much better than normal plastic, so it’s crucial to only use natural, paper-feeling glassine.
Like we mentioned earlier, glassine bags can be easily composted. If you lack other sources of paper to feed your compost unit, glassine makes for a handy substitution.
If you don’t have a compost unit or aren’t interested in adding glassine to your compost, recycling glassine works just as well.
Just make sure to clean off leftover grease or anything else that can ruin a batch of recyclables.
Are Loofahs Biodegradable?
Yes, natural loofahs are 100% biodegradable and compostable. Natural loofahs are made from dried/processed luffa, a natural vine in the cucumber family.
Natural loofahs are great for exfoliating and removing stubborn dirt off one’s body. Best of all, the loofah is one of the best eco-friendly materials out there.
Considering that it’s a plant, it’s completely biodegradable and can fully decompose within a year. As you might expect, loofahs are also totally compostable.
If you decided to toss a loofah or two into a compost unit, you can expect it to decompose within 30 days.
Just 30 days! That’s remarkably fast compared to some other stuff on our list.
You can buy your own for a pretty low price.
If you have a green thumb, you can also grow your own loofahs. The power of unlimited loofah could be in your hands!
Exciting stuff, we know.
You can check out how to grow your own loofah sponge here.
*Note: These are not to be confused with shower balls, as the term is sometimes used interchangeably. Shower balls are typically made of #4 plastic mesh, which is recyclable but not biodegradable or compostable. Eco-friendly options for shower balls exist, but we won’t get into them here.
Are Staples Biodegradable?
No, staples are not biodegradable. However, they are recyclable since they are entirely made of steel. They can be recycled on their own or while attached to the paper.
More specifically, staples are made from zinc-plated steel wires that are glued together and bent into the familiar “U” shape.
The zinc-plating can be an issue, as zinc is a toxic heavy metal that can leak into the environment.
Thankfully, staples can be recycled. They can be recycled by themselves or even while attached to paper documents. Don’t worry, the staples are removed during the recycling process.
Instead of stapling documents, consider using a paper clip instead. It serves the same function and can be reused, making them a more eco-friendly alternative.
There are also stapleless staplers that can punch a hole through a few papers and use the paper as the holding piece itself. This comes with a hidden bonus in that you save money on staples that you would otherwise need to buy.
Stapleless staplers don’t work with fat stacks of paper though (anything more than 10 sheets), which is what the paper clip is for.
If you are married to staplers, then at least consider picking up staplers made from recycled materials. And make sure to recycle those staplers too!
Are Wax Bags Biodegradable?
Depending on the type of wax, wax bags can be biodegradable. Soybean or vegetable oil wax is biodegradable and compostable, while petroleum-based wax is not biodegradable or compostable.
Wax bags are made from wax paper, which is made from wood pulp. It’s processed very similarly to glassine and other paper-based products.
The biodegradability of a wax bag is entirely dependent on the wax.
Plant-based waxes like soybean or vegetable oil are comprised of chemicals that naturally degrade over time. Plant-based wax bags are also compostable and will fully decompose within 2-6 weeks. These waxes do not have a negative impact on the environment, though the paper itself can be harmful to certain animals when consumed.
Petroleum-based wax, on the other hand, can take 1,000+ years to fully decompose. This kind of wax is more “plasticky” and follows the same rules that other plastic-based products do. Even when this wax starts to decompose, it will only form micro-plastics and cause further harm to the environment.
Always used plant-based wax bags. You can usually find out whether or not a bag uses plant-based wax on the manufacturer’s labels. It’s usually pretty well advertised.
A beeswax is also a great option, though it can be a bit pricier.
If you can’t find out, assume that the bag doesn’t use eco-friendly waxes.
Are Airsoft BBs Biodegradable?
Traditional plastic airsoft bbs are not biodegradable or compostable. However, biodegradable airsoft bbs are a viable, eco-friendly alternative.
Traditional airsoft bbs are made of acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), a form of styrofoam plastic as well as a durable polymer. This plastic is condensed into a sphere and forms the ball-like bb we’ve come to recognize.
ABS is not biodegradable or compostable. Like other forms of plastic, bbs made with ABS can take decades to fully decompose and is susceptible to forming micro-plastics. These BBs can poison the environment as they degrade, negatively affecting both flora and fauna.
Biodegradable airsoft bbs are made with polylactic acid plastic (PLA), a polymer made from plant starches like sugar cane, corn, and sugar beets. PLA plastic is more eco-friendly since it does not contain the same harmful chemicals present in ABS.
The best part? Biodegradable airsoft bbs will break down within a year naturally or in 90 days in compost.
According to bachbio.com, most airsoft fields require the use of biodegradable bbs anyways. Chances are high that if you play airsoft, you already use biodegradable bbs.
But if you don’t, we implore you to make the switch. The best guns will allow you to use both and the differences in performance are nearly unnoticeable.
It’s unlikely that you will be picking up your used bbs and composting them yourself, but the company that owns the field might be doing that themselves. Be sure to ask and make them aware of that option if they don’t already do so.
Either way, you can rest easy knowing that your biodegradable bbs will not harm the environment after a fun day of shooting.
Are Cello Bags Biodegradable?
Yes, natural cello bags are biodegradable and compostable.
However, some concerns ultimately question the eco-friendliness of bags made from cellophane.
Like you might have guessed, cello bags are made from a material called cellophane. Cellophane is derived from natural materials like wood, plants, and other sources of cellulose. This makes it biodegradable and easily compostable.
At first, this may lead you to believe that it’s totally eco-friendly. But there are some eco-conscious marks against cellophane.
For starters, the production of cellophane requires the use of toxic chemicals like carbon disulfide.
It’s also using wood as a raw material, which is obviously not great for green sustainability.
Finally, it has the potential to release methane (a strong global warming gas) into the atmosphere once it starts decomposing.
Don’t just use any old cello bags. Check with companies and make sure that they are taking the steps needed to make cellophane as eco-friendly as possible. Pick cello bags that are clearly labeled with only the best eco-friendly materials.
Cellophane is already much better than plastic, but we know that we can do better.
Don’t be afraid to reach out and demand the best from green manufacturers! We all need to come together to make the world a healthier place to live.
Even if it’s one cello bag at a time.
Are Cloth (Tote) Bags Biodegradable?
Yes, cloth (tote) bags are biodegradable and compostable. But in terms of eco-friendliness, they may be inferior compared to other reusable bags.
To answer whether or not a cloth bag is biodegradable, we first need to ask if the material used to make that bag is biodegradable.
Cloth bags are usually made out of cotton, which itself is a biodegradable and compostable material. Unfortunately, cotton is highly processed and is heavily doused in pesticides.
The number of resources required to grow, maintain, and process cotton is rather large and can leave a hefty carbon footprint.
To put it into perspective, you would have to use a cloth bag over 100 times to offset the carbon footprint of plastic production. That’s a lot of usages!
With that in mind, the biodegradability of cloth bags is almost irrelevant. By the time the bag reaches your hands, the damage has already been done.
Not all cloth bags are equal, however. Always make sure to check with the manufacturer to see how they are making their bags. They may be using special “green” practices in order to decrease the carbon footprint of their cloth bags.
It never hurts to know for sure!
Consider using reusable nonwoven polypropylene plastic bags.
While these bags cannot biodegrade or be composted, they can be recycled and are often made from recycled materials.
These bags only need to be used about 11 times to offset their carbon footprint, which is a heck of a lot easier than 100+.
If you already have a cloth (tote) bag, then make sure to use it as much as possible. The best way to reduce waste and save the environment is to continue using what you already have!
Plus, the bag is probably pretty stylish. Who wouldn’t want to carry them around?
Are Diapers Biodegradable?
Most disposable diapers are not biodegradable. However, there are eco-friendly, biodegradable disposable diapers produced by manufacturers that care about the environment.
Cloth diapers are biodegradable and compostable when clean, but require more resources to produce.
Most diapers are made from a combination of wood pulp, various plastics, and SAP (super absorbent polymer). Due to the plastic in these diapers, they will not biodegrade promptly. It can take decades for a single diaper to fully decompose.
Even worse, the absorbent material is long-lasting and causes diapers to hold their form even in watery environments. The use of wood pulp doesn’t help either, as that means more trees are cut down to produce the diapers.
There are greener alternatives to consider. Some diaper manufacturers choose to make their diapers out of sustainable materials like bamboo. This allows the diaper to properly biodegrade within a year.
In composting conditions, the diapers will fully decompose in 90 to 180 days.
If you can, try to stick with biodegradable/compostable diapers. Since they are made from sustainable materials, you can be sure that the diaper didn’t cost the Earth valuable resources.
Bamboo is optimal as it’s fast-growing, durable, and fairly inexpensive.
Please note that you shouldn’t compost diapers in your own compost. Home compost units typically cannot reach a high enough temperature to kill all the microbes found in human waste.
This can present a health problem and lead to a colony of dangerous microbes down the road. If you want to try composting diapers at home, make sure that your compost can reach AND sustain high enough temperatures safely.
And that’s our list! We hope that you enjoyed it and discovered some useful information. If you did, leave a comment below and tell us which one it was.
If you have a suggestion for a product or material that’s on your mind, let us know in the comments and we’ll consider amending our list to include it. We want this list to be ongoing and constantly developing, so give us those questions!
Until next time, let’s continue to strive towards a greener, better way of living!