(Happy International Composting Week)
It's International Compost Week this week and so it's a great opportunity to explain a little bit about the afterlife of South Africa's first & homegrown organic & biodegradable menstrual brand Sheba Feminine.
Because as menstruators, the average woman uses between 15000 and 17000 tampons/ pads in her life, she creates between 150kg and 190kg of menstrual product waste in a lifetime.
You're reading this because you are concerned about how you can reduce your impact on the planet. So here's a way to reduce your 165kg of waste.
Biodegradable and compostable are words often used interchangeably, but there’s a world of difference between them. To understand the difference between the two let’s break down both words first.
We often see the word ‘biodegradable’ on some products that we buy, such as soap and shampoo. But what does it mean? Anything biodegradable will break down quickly and safely into mostly harmless compounds. But what makes a substance biodegradable? Anything that is plant-based, animal-based or natural mineral-based product is usually biodegradable. However, they will break down at different rates depending on the original material it’s made out of and how much it has been processed.
'Biodegradables' are anything that undergoes degradation resulting from the action of naturally occurring microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi, and algae.
'Compostable' means that a product is capable of breaking down into natural elements in a compost environment. Because it’s broken down into its natural elements it causes no harm to the environment and the breakdown process usually takes around 90 days. Compostables are anything that undergoes degradation by biological processes during composting to yield CO2, water, inorganic compounds and biomass at a rate consistent with other compostable materials and leaves no visible, distinguishable or toxic residue.
Although biodegradable materials return to nature and can disappear completely they sometimes leave behind metal residue, on the other hand, compostable materials create something called humus that is full of nutrients and great for plants. In summary, compostable products are biodegradable, but with an added benefit. That is, when they break down, they release valuable nutrients into the soil, aiding the growth of trees and plants.
Many items that are labeled as “biodegradable” are not accepted by composting facilities because they take too long to break down and/or will not decompose entirely, disrupting the composting cycle. BUT, as Sheba prides herself on supplying only ORGANIC this points to the fact that Sheba's products are made from natural plant matter and is BOTH compostable AND biodegradable.
Here's how you do it.