Recently, I went to CVS on the hunt for a toothbrush that wasn’t made from plastic. I thought this might be one way to reduce my waste, and help keep plastic out of the ocean. I found a bioplastic toothbrush from the brand “My Magic Mud.” It claimed it was made from cellulose derived from wood scraps, which came from sustainably harvested timber. The box claimed it was Earth friendly, biodegradable, and sustainable… but is that really the truth?
What is bioplastic? Is that any different from regular plastic? Is it really biodegradable? I did some digging so you don’t have to.
Something made out of bioplastics can be made from a whole slew of things, from agricultural by-products to used plastic bottles. These bioplastics don’t need as many fossil fuels in their production as normal plastics. The normal plastics, what you think of when you hear the word plastic, use gas or fossil fuels in their production, whereas because bioplastics are being made from byproducts or from used things, they don’t require as much energy to make.
While technically, bioplastics are biodegradable, it should be noted that they degrade so slowly that it’s really like they’re not even biodegradable at all. Most bioplastic products need to be in a special industrial composting unit with favorable conditions to degrade. Unfortunately, most dump sites are not equipped with this equipment, and the bioplastics are thrown out into the pile of trash like any other piece of plastic. Also, many people do not correctly label their bioplastics and do not deposit them into the correct recycling bin or try to compost them.
Bioplastics can be good, if you know how to properly dispose of them. They have their trade offs. Though they might not actually be biodegradable, their carbon footprint is a lot lower than regular made plastic. It’s up to you to decide what your opinion on bioplastics is. For me, once I’m done with this toothbrush, I’ll be buying a bamboo one that I know is biodegradable. You can find a bamboo toothbrush from the same brand here.
**All information from Wikipedia (my favorite source).