Monthly Archives: June 2015

Compost Round Up: “Bioplastics in our Biosphere”

For those of us emptying buckets, picking up bags from commercial accounts, checking inside buckets, ‘compostable’ cutlery or ‘bioplastics’ is a familiar sight. What are bioplastics exactly? How are they manufactured and are they really compostable? Is it clever marketing or an effective strategy for greener production and dining?

Bioplastics, simply stated, are plastics derived from renewable biomass sources, such as vegetable fats and oils, corn or pea starch and microbiota. They come in forms like packaging, pots, bowls, cutlery, bags, and even in mobile phone casings, plastic piping and carpet fibers. The term ‘bioplastic” means plastic that has been created from a biological source. This can be misleading as folks can assume that “bioplastic” equals “biodegradable,” which in many cases is incorrect.

In comparison with the production of common plastic, bioplastic requires less fossil fuels and creates less greenhouse gas. Petroleum is used in the production of both, however, its possible to create bioplastic with renewable energy and zero petroleum. Consequently, there is concern that if the demand for bioplastic spikes to a global level, this will lead to increased deforestation and soil eroison.

And so you see, there is much debate regarding bioplastics especially since there are different types (starch-based, cellulose-based, polylactic acid, poly-3-hydroxybutyrate, polyamide 11, etc) each with it’s own environmental pro’s and con’s.

This is a very basic illustration mapping the cycle of bioplastics:

bioplastics

In terms of the breakdown of bioplastics, which is where Bootstrap comes in, see this article for details: http://www.triplepundit.com/2014/12/breaking-bioplastics. “Not all bio-based plastics will biodegrade and not all biodegradable plastics will compost,” the author states.

It seems we have a way to go until the production and breakdown of bioplastics is perfected. In the meantime, we can be active, educated consumers, ensuring our dishware goes to the correct stream for the correct processing. Fortunately, Bootstrap sorts and removes any non-compostable bioplastics from our stream. Those which are compostable are sent to our friends at partners at composting facilities. Booya!

Wake Up to Compost: an Introduction

By Lucy Dilworth

lucy headshotHi everyone! I wanted to formally introduce myself as the newest addition to the Bootstrap community. My name is Lucy and I’m a fresh faced blogger from Maine who recently planted roots in the big city. I graduated last spring from Miami University in Ohio where I studied creative writing. Post-graduation, I indulged in my wanderlust and traveled to the opposite side of the world where I lived with an array of fascinating individuals, including a citrus farmer and a taxidermist. At one point, I found myself composting New Zealand soil with the locals! Despite my ever-changing scenery, I’m grateful to now be in a city where I have the opportunity to be educated on urban composting and pass my knowledge onto others.

Although it’s been awesome to see residential and commercial food scrap collections in an urban setting, I was even more astounded when I saw a composting bin at my 86-year-old grandmother’s house a few weeks ago in Manchester-By-The-Sea. In terms of my own awareness of composting, it’s been very limited until recently. During college, I lived with seven other girls. We certainly produced enough organic waste to compost. Sadly, our priorities lay within what we were going to wear out on the weekends rather than learning to recycle and reuse. When I saw my grandmother’s composting bin, I knew that I was way late to the game. Most people don’t compost because they don’t know how to or why it’s beneficial, which is a category I am guilty of falling into. However, with my new gig at Bootstrap and all the resources I have access to here and online, I can now start to learn about more sustainable practices at home and beyond. And composting? I guess it’s so easy my grandma can do it.

WUTE sponsorSpeaking of revelations, last month I worked my first Bootstrap event at the Wake Up the Earth Festival while also entering Jamaica Plain territory for the first time (or JP as the cool kids say). The festival was a perfect exposure to one of the communities I’ll be working with and an alternative and educational way to spend my Saturday afternoon. It was also the perfect place for anyone trying to get over their agoraphobia. It was a humbling, yet successful experience considering I ran out of flyers within the first hour and one of my managers mistook me for an eager client with inappropriate personal space as I stood with him behind the Bootstrap table. On a positive note, Continue reading