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Compostable/biodegradable bags: are they truly eco-friendly?

So it something you have been seeing everywhere: Compostable and biodegradable bags. In the turn of the green movement, this was touted as a win and a change by many big brands...but is it really as environmentally friendly as it seems? The Trove of Gaia team investigates, after encountering one which was donated to use for our order packaging. 

So recently we were packing orders, (a big thanks to you guys for your donated polymailers) when we came across one made from PLA (polylactic acid) which is a transformed material derived from cornstarch.

1) As it was labelled compostable, one might think this could be buried into soil and biodegrade. However, that is not so. PLA needs specific conditions in order to do that, 140C, organic substrate and oxygen and moisture which is usually only possible in a professional composting facility...something that Singapore DOES NOT have. Our country incinerates everything or puts it in landfill.

2) that's not to say biodegradable and compostable products don't work: we need to look at the context and capabilities that our country has.Biodegradable products actually carry a higher carbon footprint as it takes a lot of resources, water and energy to manufacture.



Ironically, the company which we found this compostable mailer has to ship their good from China to Australia (where they are located) then to Singapore. Imagine the carbon footprint generated!


In order to truly be a zero waste economy, my recommendation is to use whatever is readily available to you, because chances are we already have more than enough currently in circulation.

As customers, question sellers and brands extensively so you know that they are knowledgeable and informed in what they use and sell, as the onus of walking the talk in sustainable businesses falls onto us the owners. Lemme know if you have any questions!