Have you ever wondered how your actions impact our environment and its inhabitants? How can you make a positive impact in the sustainability of our ecosystem? A few conscious decisions in our lifestyle can paramount to substantial change in preserving our environment. Here we introduce you to the concept of recyclable, biodegradable and compostable beauty and skincare to help you play your role as a responsible citizen without compromising on heath or results.
What does the term recyclable, biodegradable and compostable mean?
It is imperative to preserve our environment to ensure survival of the human race. Our consciousness towards the environment will determine the future of our species. Our actions directly or indirectly find a link back to us. We have put together a brief description for each of these terms to help you understand better:
- Recyclable: This is one of the three “R’s”- reduce, reuse and recycle to help reduce waste disposal. It consists of those materials that can be processed rather than thrown away and turning them into new products. It includes various kinds of glass, paper, cardboard, metal, plastic. Recycling our products reduces pollution, prevents extinction of wildlife, conserves energy and natural resources and diverts materials from landfill pileup.
- Biodegradable: Biodegradable materials are those that have the ability to break down and return to nature in a short period of time – typically a year or less. They completely break down and decompose into natural elements. However, they must be disposed of correctly else they can cause more damage than good by releasing methane into the air.
- Compostable: Compostable materials that can break down into natural elements such as carbon dioxide, water, inorganic compounds and biomass in small pieces without leaving any toxic residues in a matter of 90 days. There are two broad divisions of compostable materials:
3.A. Brown materials: Carbon rich materials like dead plant matter and wood-based waste. These provide aeration and structure, but break down slowly so work best when chopped into small pieces.
3.B. Green materials: have high levels of Nitrogen in objects such as live plant material and fruit/vegetable waste. These provide moisture to your pile and break down quickly.
What makes recyclable, biodegradable and compostable materials different from each other?
These terms are often used interchangeably. We presume they all benefit the environment in the same way and should be treated similarly. However, they are significantly different from each other. So, what is the difference between them?
Key differentiating features: Almost all materials can be recycled. When you recycle an item, something new is created from previously used items. Fewer natural resources are used and pollution can be controlled. It also helps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and conserves energy.
Treatment: The main steps to follow while recycling your beauty and skin care products are:
- Always rinse off any residues in the container.
- Disassemble the product entirely.
- Segregate the materials on the basis of their components widely into metals, plastics and cardboard or paper.
- If you are unsure if the product gets recycled then dispose it off in your trash.
Common Materials: Plastic, Glass, Metal, Paper, Wood, Textile, Fibre
Key differentiating features: It takes 3 to 6 months for biodegradable materials to decompose. That is much quicker than their synthetic counterparts that take at least a hundred years. Biodegradable items can break down within the environment with the help of bacteria or other living organisms. It also takes less energy to manufacture reducing pollution significantly. They do not use fossil fuels to be recycled.
Treatment: Biodegradable can be disposed of by converting it into manure by burying them in compost pits. Recycling of organic wastes like vegetable peels, waste food, leaves, etc., by burying them in compost pits is called composting.
Materials: Biodegradable plastics, Bamboo, Paper, Fruit extracts.
Key differentiating features: Compostable materials have been certified to break down completely into non - toxic components (water, carbon dioxide, and biomass) that will not harm the environment under the right conditions. You can easily decompose materials at home however not all materials are suitable to decompose under such methods. The main difference between compostable and biodegradable materials is that compostable items need a specific setting while biodegradable products break down naturally. Composting is generally considered a faster process if performed under the right conditions.
Treatment: Adding compost to your soil makes it nutrient rich and an efficient way to get rid of waste. Here are the steps to follow in order to successfully compost:
- Identify your composting spot.
- Segregate your waste into brown bins and green bins based on their nature.
- Balance your wet and dry waste. For instance, add one dry item such as paper packaging to a cup of wet items such as fruit extract or vegetable peels.
- Turn your compost mixture to help speed the process.
- When the compost dries up and has turned brown and crumbly it is ready to be added to your plant pot or garden.
Materials: Paper, Vegetable and fruit peels, Teabags.
Why is it important to use recyclable, biodegradable and compostable products that are environmentally friendly?
The success of our ecosystem and the creatures within it widely depend on the actions taken by us. Taking small steps to change can go a long way. Simply by switching to products that are recyclable, biodegradable and compostable we can ensure that we have a positive impact on our environment. Not only should we change our mindset but also make lifestyle changes in our day – to – day by using efficient products. The beauty industry is a major contributor of plastic waste, and every empty shampoo, cream bottle or jar that we discard ends up in either a landfill or in our oceans. We have put together a few tips to help you switch to a more sustainable routine:
- Understand what can and cannot be recycled. Dissemble the parts and segregate the products on the basis of materials used. Always leave smaller components like caps on if they are to be recycled in the same division of the main product. These are too small to go through the recycling system if put in separately. The broadest categories include Plastic, Metal, Glass and Cardboard.
- Always rinse off any residual product before tossing it into your recycling bin.
- Study the labels to learn the appropriate method to recycle a particular product. It is equally important to know what cannot be recycled to avoid hindering with the recycling process. Check out the article, how to recycle your beauty and personal care empties on our blog to learn more.
- Become a ‘Recycling Warrior’ and participate in the “#SublimeRecycles” program by sending us your old plastic bottles for us to recycle or upcycle.
- Drop makeup wipes and switch to a cleaner option using oils, creams and biodegradable wipes such as Dromen & Co Magic Cotton Pads, Coccoon Silk Appeal Cleansing Oil or Zyna Deep Cleansing Milk With AHAs.
- Washing your hands with products infused with parabens and chemicals can release toxins into the environment. Switch to Nature Trail Wild Grapefruit Hand Wash and Nature Trail Citrus Blast Hand Wash. These natural hand soaps are tough enough for grease, gentle enough for children, and pure enough to biodegrade in the environment.
- Buy products from stores that support paperless transactions and plastic free shipping to reduce your environmental impact. For instance, we at Sublime constantly reassess our packaging methods to find cleaner and greener alternatives to positively impact our planet. The packaging boxes, wrapping materials, tape and sleeves that we use are only recycled materials that can be further recycled too.
- Go green by using our unique Seed Paper that reaches you with every order you place. This paper is embedded with seeds for you to grow at home. When the paper is planted the seeds germinate & grow into plants & the paper biodegrades. Visit our page to learn more about this.
It is so important to choose products that support the environment. Due to complexities we often end up falling short on sticking to our environmental goals despite having the best intentions. Hopefully, we can help you attain them together. Thanks to the growing awareness of beauty waste we can make a difference one step at time by using recyclable, biodegradable and compostable products.
- By Howrah Lookmanji