What does biodegradable mean?

 

So you've searched what does biodegradable mean?


It sounds like the perfect solution. Biodegradable. An item that can break down into another state and isn’t harming the planet - however that’s all it means. An item that can break down. It doesn’t attach a timescale to it which is the biggest issue that consumers currently face when trying to purchase eco-friendly products.

When a product is biodegradable it means it can naturally break down without directly harming the environment. This might take 1 year, it could take 400. Ultimately nearly everything created is biodegradable but some companies have grabbed this term and started using it to greenwash audiences.


What is greenwashing?


Greenwashing is a term given to products that appear eco-friendly when they’re not. Some products might be better for the environment, but greenwashing allows them to appear more eco-friendly than they really are. It’s like telling some truth, but not the whole truth. Products that do this are often considered green or use terms like biodegradable.

You see the word biodegradable and you think ‘this must be good for the environment, but when you investigate further, it’s no better than its competitor without the word biodegradable slapped across their marketing. Make sure you watch out for greenwashing when shopping for eco-friendly products. Do your research before you make a purchase.


Is biodegradable bad for the environment?


With all that being said, it doesn’t mean that any product with the word biodegradable on it is bad for the environment. Biodegradable is one step to knowing that a product will break down, but the key to knowing how good it is is finding the word compostable. Compostable means the item will break down of natural means within 180 days. Yes, 6 months. If you want to find a good eco-friendly product; compostable is the key term.


Can I put compostable items in my compost heap?


Again, this is where it gets tricky. Just because an item is compostable, doesn’t mean you should pop it in your home compost. You only need to put a few compostable tea bags in there to discover that. While most of the product will break down within 180 days, not all of it has to for a product to be granted the term ‘compostable’.

It’s such a minefield to try and navigate, and of course, every brand wants to be seen as doing its part. Just be wary that while biodegradable and compostable terms can signify a great product, there aren’t any strict laws surrounding their use. Keep your wits about you!


What’s better than biodegradable and compostable?


When it comes to throwing things away, finding products that are compostable are great, but really you want to avoid throwing items away altogether. Reusing products is the best action to take. Many eco-friendly brands provide options where you purchase an item, and then only buy their refills going forward. Reducing your waste completely and allowing you to avoid greenwashing tactics too.

Brands like Purdy & Figg are a great example of this. They remove all the marketing rubbish and greenwashing terminology and get straight to the point. They have beautifully fragranced hand sanitisers, that you can get delivered to your door. They protect you by removing 99.99% of bacteria and germs, and they have refillable options that come in glass jars. Plus, there are travel-size options so you can take your sanitiser with you wherever you go.

So, there you have it! Biodegradable isn’t quite the saviour term it makes itself out to be, and not even compostable is as innocent as it makes out. If you’re looking to live an eco-friendly lifestyle, purchase refillable and all-natural products. At first, it can take quite some research, but as soon as you become wise to when you’re being greenwashed you’ll be buying like a pro!