Green, Recyclable, Eco-friendly and Biodegradable are some of the “buzz” words lately. What do they mean though? Is your head spinning like mine yet? So many terms thrown out at me that honestly, I’m a bit confused. Thus, like any good technology loving American, I hopped on line to do some research. Here’s what I found:
One, you must understand the difference between the terms. So, ‘Recyclable’ products can be collected and reprocessed to produce new items. Common recyclable materials are: paper, cardboard, plastic, glass, aluminum, and electronic waste. Recycling is very important in diverting waste from landfills. Check with your local recycling collector to check what materials in your area can be recycled. The types of items accepted can vary from location to location. Also, properly sort your recyclables into your household recycling bins. If your city does not collect recyclables, you can use Earth911 to find public and private recycling centers. This is a nifty site that I was really glad I found. They tell you where to recycle important things like batteries. You just type what you want to recyle and your zip code and presto. Very simple & user friendly!
Next term is ‘Biodegradable’ which simply means that a product will break down into carbon dioxide, water and biomass within a reasonable amount of time in the natural environment. The term ‘biodegradable’ however has no legal enforcement or definition. Therefore, the term has been used loosely by some manufacturers. One important thing to remember is that biodegradability is a desirable feature in products such as cleaning agents. Conventional cleaning agents will often release harmful phosphates and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) as they break down, but biodegradable versions will not. Products that are labeled as ‘biodegradable’ can be disposed of in your garbage. However, it is important to remember that landfills lack the microorganisms and oxygen required for waste to biodegrade in a timely manner, so you should still try to minimize the amount of wasted material. For example, TheGreenOffice has a Green Screen system that ranks products based on recyclability, reduced chemical content and third-party certifications.
Ok, so this is what I’m walking away with. Try to recycle as much as I can and thanks to Earth911 I can keep more harmful junk out of landfills. Read labels, read labels and read more labels. So let’s all be eco-friendly and do what inflicts minimal or no harm on the environment.