059: The Shocking Truth About Biodegradable Plastics and PLA

Trace DominguezRecently there has been a lot of greenwashing going on about biodegradable and PLA products. Some companies love to tell us how wonderful their products are and that they are completely compostable or degradable in some cases they are and in most cases, they have some fine print, stating in an industrial compost facility. A few months back I did a post about a video that I have seen and today I am so excited to have the star of the video the award-winning science communicator, video producer podcaster and curiosity explorer, Trace Dominguez on the podcast.

Episode Highlights

Final Five

1.What is one social media platform that you follow?

Katie Hawkins-Gaar

2.What is your hope for mama earth going forward?

 I hope people realize how much they can affect the earth. 

3.What advise can you give our crazy birds this week to help out mama earth?

 I think a big one that I learned from making videos is that recently I made a video about the reusable water bottle and whenever you are at a conference or a fair or you know somewhere at a flea market and you see people giving out reusable water bottles for free, don’t take them. Because those reusable water bottles take more energy to make than just the glasses that you have at home or a metal reusable bottle that you have already purchased. So when you have 20 or 30 bottles what you actually have is a delay in the waste stream. It will get into the trash eventually you are just holding on to it until you get rid of it. 

4.What is one sustainability fact that you like to use in a room with people not yet on a sustainability journey?

 We do not live in a movie. There is no balance to nature. Nature does not rebalance. If you jump off a teeter-totter it does not go back to the centre. It will continue on the path that you pushed it on. 

5.Where can people find you?






Key Take Away

“When I think of biodegradable plastic, I was like oh wow this is fantastic. Now we have this thing and we can feel better about using plastic products but as you say, it is still plastic. It is just a different type. 

Often we are misled by clever marketing, making us use products that is still harmful to the environment but promoting them in a way to make us think they are actually good. When we see products that say it is biodegradable, compostable and products that say it is not plastic you need to ask yourself a few questions

1. If it looks like plastic, feels like plastic but it is not plastic then what is it made of?
2. Is it a bioplastic, made primarily from corn into a substance called polylactide acid (PLA)?
3. Can it be recycled in your country of use or does it need to travel to one of the few facilities globally?
4. Does it biodegrade, degrade or is it fully compostable?

If at any of these questions you were unsure or started to feel a bit shocked and uncomfortable, rather give the product a skip and stick to a good reusable option.

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