Breaking Down the Truth

In the past several years, a new fad has arisen. Becoming eco-friendly and putting the Earth’s issues first is changing people’s viewpoints on how much more we need to do to keep our Earth clean and lively. Companies such as Glad, Biobag, and Metabolix Bioplastics are following this movement in creating biodegradable versions of everyday products. Plates, forks, trash bags, paper towels, and other necessities are some of the new inventions to make our world a better place.

Although the human population increases, our land space does not. Biodegradable products slightly help the issue by being able to break down within days, months or years so in the future, there will still be space for humans to put their waste. Biodegradation is a natural process that breaks down organic material into nutrients that are used by other organisms such as insects, worms, fungi, and bacteria. They consume organic matter and recycle it into new forms. Composting and water help speed up the process of biodegrading and help create nutrients. Even though the claims of the biodegradable substances say that it’ll benefit the Earth in the long run, you can’t help but wonder if it’s true.

A statement from http://www.futurenergia.org states that biodegradable products can make the issue of littering worse from people believing that it’ll degrade easier. Even breaking down a banana peel which is naturally biodegradable takes 1-3 years to complete its process. If you are biodegrading a certain type of material, it has to be in the right environment. There needs to be a correct balance of microorganisms, temperature, and humidity to complete the biodegrading correctly. If a biodegradable plastic is dumped into a landfill, it can produce harmful greenhouse gases that can hurt our environment even more.

Biodegradable materials, like plastic, are not only made out of plant products like people believe. It is still made out of the same type of oil you would use to make a normal, non-biodegradable plastic. Being able to biodegrade should not be seen as a way to dispose of a product, but more as an additional function. There are some examples of useful biodegradable plastics, such as; Food packaging (packaging that can be composted together with its contents when the product is past its sell-by date or spoiled), Agriculture (plastic sheeting that can be ploughed-into biodegradable mulch and seed films), and Medical (absorbable sutures; micro-devices containing medicine, which break down inside the body).

Just because a material is biodegradable doesn’t mean it will solve the issue of taking better care of our environment. We shouldn’t focus on finding ways to throw things away, but more to have multiple uses so we will be able to recycle them. All materials should have a concrete benefit and carry out their function as it was made to be. The best way to keep our planet clean and healthy is to conserve energy and recycle materials as much as we possibly can.

About Mr. Mohn

Biology Teacher

This entry was written by Erika N. and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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