This year, the world will generate 2.6 trillion pounds of garbage, last year, it wasn't any less, and next year, that number might grow. As our population continues to expand, and we continue to consume more, we have no choice but to move away from products which will outlive us in the landfill, and embrace the badassness of biodegradable.
Recycling and upcycling are great solutions to reducing the waste we already have, but it doesn't necessarily solve the fact that if a product doesn't come from the Earth (i.e. is manufactured with unnatural man made substances) it can't return to the Earth either.
Lack of biodegradability is the main issue with the majority of the items we find in stores today. Luckily, there are conscious creators of things who have begun to develop options that others have deemed impossible: from biodegradable soaps and takeaway cups to biodegradable cars. There is already a solution to almost all of our pollutive problems, all we have to do is swiftly sweep our troubles away with a multitude of sustainable switches.
We might find it frustrating that companies like Starbucks, who claim to be the 'greenest company in the world' (this is called Greenwashing, which we'll chat about some other time), choose not to make efforts to reduce the waste their products create (for example: by using compostable cups instead of non-recyclable ones), but we are also to blame for accepting their lack of transparency.
This is why we must start voting with our dollar, and rewarding companies who think consciously and circularly rather than companies who think selfishly and capitalistically. We each have to take responsibility for our part in our purchasing just as companies need to take responsibility for their part in producing pollutive products.
Replacing what you have with items which can biodegrade is one way to ensure your impact will be minimised. Below are some beautiful brands who have pushed the envelope to produce biodegradable goods which are as great as they are green.
Made ethically entirely from biodegradable materials, these shoes can be composted in your garden when they wear down. There are seeds in the tongue of the shoes as well which means flowers will bloom from your old shoes, hopefully leaving the sweet scent your feet behind.
Dutch brand reWrap has designed a collection of bags made with fully biodegradable materials. The outside of the bag is made from 100% coconut husks which have been pressed together with a natural resin, while the inside is made from sun-dried natural rubber which makes the bag waterproof. The bag is finished off with a walnut wood handle which is protected with bees wax polish and the bags are sewn together using threads made from 100% wood pulp. Each bag is made ethically in a workshop which employs people with disabilities in the brand's home city of Amsterdam.
This bucket chair is made from artichoke thistle and biological resin which was abstracted from old cooking oil. It looks and acts like plastic but is 100% biodegradable. Designer Spyros Kizis created the chair using nationally grown artichoke thistle from his home country of Greece creating new businesses for farmers and entrepreneurs in a struggling economy.
Considering themselves a blue brand, rather than a green one, this conscious collection of creations is made of organic or recycled materials which can either be recycled, or biodegrade at the end of their lifecycle. This brand gives back to an ocean based not-for-profit organisation called Mission Blue and has partnered with a number of heady people to create limited edition collections.
Probably the most beautiful story when it comes to card printing, these gorgeous cards have seeds within them so when you're ready to, you can plant the sweet words of your loved one in your garden and watch them flourish.
As long as you're purchasing from an ethical company, just about anything made with bamboo still in its original wood like form can return to the earth and biodegrade. I wrote about making the sustainable switch from plastic toothbrushes (which will never decompose) to bamboo toothbrushes (which you can compost!) a few months back here. But the same circular story goes for bamboo homeware and sunglasses. Bamboo is the fastest growing plant in the world (24 inches in 24hrs!) which enables frequent and sustainable harvesting without causing damage to the ecosystem of bamboo forests. It grows abundantly, without pesticides and is watered naturally by mountain rain. It produces more oxygen and absorbs more carbon dioxide than trees, combating global warming with each bamboo shoot.
Holly is the creator of Leotie Lovely, a conscious lifestyle blog which tells an aesthetic tale of the people, places, pleasures, and products she discovers on her path towards a greater state of eco wisdom and ethical awareness. She believes that each one of us needs to discover the circular story behind each and every object we purchase or use, and has dedicated herself to recounting that narrative.
She has recently created a series called #GoneGreen2016 for which she is blogging daily for 365 consecutive days about eco education and simple sustainable switches towards greener living. Holly also creates a collection of eco friendly, ethically made, designs under the same name, Leotie Lovely.