However, if we're looking to reduce our carbon footprint, it's a good idea to look into alternatives. The following are a few of the many ways we can do so.
Plastic produce bags take ages to degrade
Plastic produce bags take ages to decompose. This is not the case for paper bags, however, as these can be recycled. Typically, plastic take hundreds of years to break down. However, a new study has found that certain types of biodegradable plastics may be able to break down much faster.
Researchers in Japan, for instance, have found that plastic floating in warm ocean water can decompose in as little as one year. Interestingly, this is the same length of time it takes for a pilot whale to ingest 80 plastic bags, or 22.2 kilos.
Biodegradable plastics are made from materials such as polylactic acid (PLA), which is a plastic produced from corn. They also contain compounds that cause gradual degradation in the presence of light.
Depending on the moisture present in the environment, biodegradable bags can take from three to six months to completely break down. However, even these bags are not necessarily environmentally friendly. In fact, many of them disintegrate into toxic chemicals.
Hazardous chemicals commonly found in single-use plastic packaging
Plastics are often manufactured from fossil fuel-based chemicals. Some are known to be endocrine disruptors.
The use of plastics as packaging for food, beverages and consumer products has increased over the past few decades. This has created a large impact on the environment.
There is a growing body of scientific literature discussing potential health effects of the chemicals used in the production of plastics. Many of the additives are toxic and are known endocrine disruptors. These contaminants are transported to the natural environment where they can harm wildlife.
In addition, studies have found that plastic debris can transfer harmful substances to the food chain. This is particularly dangerous because the fragments are large and can be ingested by a wide range of organisms.
In a study conducted in the United Kingdom in 2011, researchers compared bags made from HDPE and LDPE. They also tested paper bags, cotton bags, and unbleached paper bags.
They also studied the terrestrial and fresh water toxicity of the bags and examined the impact of the depletion of fossil fuels. They found that the bags produced more nitrogen oxides and sulfur oxides than paper compostable bags.
Trader Joe's replaces styrofoam trays with compostable options
Trader Joe's has announced a new plan to cut back on plastic packaging. The company hopes to eliminate one million pounds of plastic each year.
Trader Joe's has listened to consumer pressure and has been making improvements to their packaging using a Compostable Packaging. They started by eliminating Styrofoam in their produce section. Now, Trader Joe's stores have compostable trays for their produce. Trader Joe's is also replacing plastic bags with biodegradable paper bags.
The chain has made other changes to reduce plastic waste. For instance, it has eliminated single-use carryout bags nationwide. In addition, it has a no-questions-asked return policy. It has also introduced donation coordinators at its stores, which are responsible for collecting non-food items for local food banks and soup kitchens.
Last month, Greenpeace sent a petition to Trader Joe's leadership team, calling on the store to end plastic waste. Over 100,000 people signed the petition, and Trader Joe's has begun listening. Since then, Trader Joe's has begun phasing out plastic trays, plastic bags, and greeting card sleeves.
Vermicomposting vs regular composting
Composting is a way of recycling waste into organic fertilizer. The process involves using waste material like food scraps and garden materials to break down and produce compost. Normally, this process is done by soil microorganisms.
Vermicomposting is a method of composting that uses earthworms. This type of composting has a faster turnaround time than traditional composting. It also produces a superior product with rich nutrients and can be used to re-supply your soil.
Both methods can be used for reducing household waste. However, vermicomposting is faster and more convenient. In addition, it is more environmentally friendly.
To start, you'll need a bin that can contain worms. Worms help aerate the compost and release oxygen into the pile. They also aerate the compost by tunneling around the bin. You should add a layer of bedding to the bin to keep it moist.
As with all composting processes, you should make sure that you have a good balance of brown and green materials. This helps the microorganisms break down and convert minerals locked in the organic material.