Compostable vs. Biodegradable vs. Zero Waste
COMPOSTABLE: Compostable materials (such as food scraps and leaves) are all biodegradable, meaning they all break down into organic waste and turn into nutritious compost. This is typically a much faster process than the breakdown of biodegradable items that end up in landfills. Compostable:
Fruit and vegetable scraps Carbs (crackers, cereals, noodles)
Nuts and seeds
Spoiled plant-based milk Jarred/canned sauces Loose tea leaves and coffee grounds
Beans and legumes Napkins and paper towels Plant waste (yard waste, dead flowers and stems, houseplant trimmings)
Old herbs and spices
ZERO WASTE: Items that are produced, used and recovered in a way that prevents them from ending up in a landfill at all. It is essentially a philosophy that allows you to rethink how the objects you buy are designed and disposed of after use.
BIODEGRADABLE: An object that can decompose biologically by bacteria/fungi over a period of time. Biodegradable doesn’t mean compostable! Most things will break down into their original components, but items like paper and cloth break down very slowly compared to a piece of fruit. Plastic may take thousands of years to disintegrate, and styrofoam will never degrade.
Biodegradable but not at-home compostable: Pastries (attract insects and pests that can ruin pile) Animal feces
Dairy products, meat or bones Tea bags made with plastic Coated cardboard packaging “Biodegradable” packaging (these are generally only compostable by an industrial facility, such as in a city-wide green-bin operation)
My favorite zero-waste items: Metal safety razors Deodorant creams in aluminum or paper containers (such as Native Deodorant)
Glass, steel, silicone and ceramic straws
Konjac facial sponges Refillable soap dispensers