We were so excited when we found biodegradable cellophane bags to use for our bath salt samples. But what exactly does biodegradable mean and does it make a big difference?
Simply put, it means being able to be broken down by natural processes into more basic components. Products are usually broken down by bacteria, fungi or other simple organisms. By this definition, most things are biodegradable. The difference is the amount of time it takes to break down. A piece of an apple will break down rather quickly but a piece of plastic will take decades and beyond.
Here’s the thing…. how long it takes to breakdown is less important than what it breaks down into! In a perfect world, all products would break down to only carbon dioxide and water. In reality, a product may be biodegradable but not environmentally friendly if it contains hazardous chemicals that are still toxic after they biodegrade.
So don’t just read the “biodegradable” label and be satisfied that it’s good for the environment. Read the full list of ingredients. Also remember that products made with natural ingredients are more likely to be safer and easier to degrade.