Puddle Jumpers

Enjoying life, off the hamster wheel

Biobags

One can always find a puddle to jump, even if it’s right under the kitchen sink.

As you, all eight of you who read this blog, can see, I’ve been thinking about “the environment” lately, whatever that means; it’s such a broad and vague term. In my case, it means that I’m beginning to pay attention to what I buy, and how I dispose of things. In other words, what’s the life-cycle of the stuff I’m taking home. What happens to the packaging and what can I do to reduce the amount of non-biodegradable stuff we throw away? Is there an alternative to the plastic bags we use for garbage?

I’ve found an alternative to the good ol’ shopping bag, and they’re called Biobags. They’re designed to be 100% compostable, unlike regular plastic. The downsides: 1) They’re very thin and flimsy, and for household trash tend to break very easily. So, we’re experimenting with a smaller container to see if lighter loads will mitigate this problem. 2) They’re expensive. I don’t remember how much they were, but they weren’t cheap. Of course, I bought these ones at Whole Foods which tends to be pricey, so maybe I’ll find them cheaper elsewhere. 3) They’re made out of material that could otherwise be used for food, like corn and wheat. It’s the same problem we encounter with bio-fuels, when additives made from wheat and corn are used for non-food use it drives up the cost of these ubiquitous foodstuffs, thus contributing to a host of problems, like you and me paying more for bread, and people in developing nations being unable to afford these basic staples, and more genetically modified plants being grown and developed.

Consumerism in the 21st Century – it ain’t what it used to be.

Last night I was walking through the Real Canadian Superstore. Row upon row of plastic container glimmered under the sodium vapour lights. Plastic bags for chips, plastic jugs for maple syrup, plastic forks, spoons and knives for picnics. Plastic peanut butter containers, plastic bags for bulk merchandise, plastic everywhere. And most of it will end up in the landfill. There was even a product called Bio-Cotton. Sheet sets, mattress pads, pillow protectors, there were many, many packages of Bio-Cotton products with labels waxing poetic about the environmental benefits of Bio-Cotton. What the labels didn’t mention is that Bio-Cotton is a genetically engineered cotton, with Monsanto having the proprietary rights. Like I said: Consumerism in the 21st Century – it ain’t what it used to be.

But back to the topic. Clothes are made of plastic, the fill in my couch is plastic. Plastic is absolutely everywhere. To think, fifty years ago there was Bakelite and other cellulose derived products, glass, wood, ceramic. Today, it’s plastic. Thanks to our petroleum dependence.

So, what’s the right thing to do? Use plastic shopping bags for the garbage and throw them into the landfill where they’ll take decades if there’s enough sunlight on the plastic for photo-degradation, or unimaginable years to degrade otherwise? Or buy compostable plastic made from foodstuffs that will degrade within a year or so?

I’ve been thinking about getting a composting bin with worms. It’s a small thing to reduce our waste. Worms gross me out, that’s the truth. But I’ll get over it. City Farmer in Vancouver has been promoting worm composting for over a decade. I’ll let you know how the worm thing turns out.

In the meantime, I’ll continue to grapple with the best plastic bag for household waste disposal. I won’t be using shopping bags anymore, but should we continue using Biobags? There’s another product I’ve found called Ecosafe Biodegradable Plastic. This product is much stronger, but it’s low density polyethylene with a degradable plastic additive. So, it’s still petroleum based, only not completely. My guess, though I haven’t researched this yet, is that the additive is vegetable based, like corn and wheat. There will be less of this than in a Biobag, but it’s still used. The dilemma: Food material for waste containers vs. edible consumption; or, waste containers that persist in the environment for long periods of time vs. degrading quickly providing nourishment for bacteria to do their job.

For now I’ll stick with the Biobag, and keep my eyes and ears open for alternatives. Maybe someone has figured out how to weave waterproof bags out of hemp. Being a weed and all, that would be sustainable.

Ingrid
Not quite wasting away the Puddle.

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3 comments on “Biobags

  1. Jacqueline
    August 6, 2008

    Hi, Ingrid,
    Great post! Sometimes I feel like I am the only one that thinks about this stuff. While I can appreciate your feelings towards how easily the Biobags can break, the same can be said of the regular plastic bags the markets used to use at checkout. I think that if you need a bag in a pinch, just double them up or carry a small burlap, organic cotton or hemp bag in your purse. I keep 4 of the biobags and one organic cotton book bag. They don’t take up much space and are good for the environment. I think one of the nicer things about the Biobags that I have found is that they keep my fruit fresher, longer. Lately it seems as though I don’t have much time to unpack after I go grocery shopping and like that I can just shove everything in my crisper.

    Keep in mind that the market has given birth to new companies that are producing products that claim to be compostable and biodegradable but are not. Biobag is certified and they even test their stuff in a certified lab to prove it. I have yet to find another company that can compare. If you know of one, let me know! Even so, the technology is fairly new and has come a very long way in a short space of time.

    As far as finding good prices for them, take a look at the prices at OrganicUniverse. (Their website is http://www.organicuniverse.com ) They even have free shipping on their stuff. I discovered their site last Christmas when I was given a gift certificate and got some of their Austrian Pumpkinseed Oil which I absolutely LOVE on my salad that I eat for lunch. I was so sick of eating salad and was more than happy to find a new way to spruce it up. So, now I add some organic red delicious apple, organic walnuts and organic dates, to my salad…drizzle the Austrian Pumpkinseed oil and add some Austrian Apple Vinegar. It is fantastic and smells soo good! I found that if I keep my dressing in a small bottle separately from my organic lettuce that when I am ready to eat it, by adding it just before, my salad is not droopy and soggy. Anyway, I just thought I would mention that.

    As far as Monsanto, they don’t give a darn about anything other than making money. If I see one more commercial for Roundup, I am going to scream! People have no idea that it is toxic to animals and causes human sterility but they still dump it on their lawns to kill dandelions. Then they wonder why the bees are dying!

    Well, all I can say is that we need to keep moving forward, find new ways to evolve that won’t harm the land we live on and cut our dependency on oil. Whether you use organic cotton, hemp, or go back to the olden days of woven baskets, we are atleast moving in the right direction!

    Jackie 😉

  2. barbro
    August 7, 2008

    Dear Ingrid(and Jackie)! I soo agrre with you writings and I amhappy to say I know people who are also concerned with these and related matters. Perhaps just because, “birds of a feather etc.”. There could be tons more to say but judging by the clock it’s time for bed. Love Mom.

  3. ingridandneil
    August 8, 2008

    Thanks Mom and Jackie for your comments. Yes, there’s an awful lot to consider when we’re purchasing things, even whether the organic stuff we’re buying is doing the environment any better when we consider where the product is coming from. For example, is it better to buy an organic lettuce head from Mexico, which is transported many thousands of miles from there to Vancouver, or buy locally produced lettuce which might not be organically grown, but hasn’t flown or been trucked as far, thus producing significantly less carbon waste. What’s the trade off between the one or the other?

    Also, when companies claim they’re “green”, are they really? And how do we know or find out? My next blog entry will touch on that.

    Thanks so much reading this blog and for taking the time to comment!

    Ingrid

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This entry was posted on August 6, 2008 by in Main and tagged , , , , .

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