There is an ongoing doubt about the environmentally friendliness of biodegradable plastic as compared to petroleum made plastic. Do they really biodegrade? Does it take more land, resources and energy to make biodegradable plastic than it does to make petroleum made plastic? The following review is not meant to confirm or deny this doubt, but simply to review an innovative biodegradable corn based products produced and sold by Trellis Earth.
In an attempt to help create a greener cleaner future Trellis Earth has produced an entire line of biodegradable cups, cutlery, plates, bowls and plastic bags to use and replace the alternative environmentally hazardous products out on the market today. My review is on the Plastic Bag Replacement Sample Pack only.
The sample pack I received contains a variety of plastic bag sizes: small, medium large, grocery, tall kitchen and commercial to sample in a variety of ways. For instance, the small bags can be used for packing fruits, nuts, lunch, loose items or other small items and the grocery bag is a great alternative to encourage your local grocery store to go to if the BYOB (Bring Your Own Bag) is out of the question. All the sample bags I received are semi-translucent and only one sized bag, the grocery bag, has handles.
I have taken about two and a half months to sample the bags sent to me. Two months was not enough time for me to witness any of the bags biodegrade as they can take up to 3 months or more to do so, but it has been enough time for me to see how useful these bags are in comparison to petroleum made plastic bags.
The first thing I noticed when I opened the box the day it arrived was the scent. It had a clean vegetable smell, unlike petroleum made bags that tend to smell like petroleum even when they have been aired out for weeks. The clean vegetable smell was a nice change.
The next thing I noticed was the sturdiness of the bags. Because I recycle and compost it takes about 2 weeks (sometimes a little more) to fill up a kitchen trash bag in my house, for the exception when there is a birthday celebration which fills up a bag and a half in a few hours.
It so happened that while testing the bags I had a birthday celebration for one of my kids. On that day my eco-skeptic husband noticed the full trashcan. As he lifted the plastic bag out he lifted it slowly fully expecting the trash bag to break as it is a very thin trash bag, but instead it held its own and he turned to me and said “Wow! These are sturdy”.
In addition I have also tested the grocery bags with different grocery items such as: a gallon of milk, 12 cans of vegetables and once I tested 15lb weights. The bags stretched, but not one of them broke.
I have only had one incident were a trash bag tore. I was filling it with paper from my shredder. I did this about 3 or 4 times until the bag was full to the top so that I had to force it closed. On my way to place the filled bag by the front door to hand to my neighbor, who uses the shredded paper in her garden, the plastic bag caught on the corner of my filing cabinet. It ripped. These bags don’t tear easily, but when they do they tear quickly.
Still, in my opinion, these plastic bags are as good if not better than many of the store brand bags I’ve tried. The only drawback I noticed with these bags is that they are not easy to open. The opening sticks and it drives me crazy trying to open a bag, especially when I am in a hurry. In this way they are very similar to store brand bags. If a little tab were added to make the bags easier to open it would be very helpful. Adding drawstrings to the kitchen trash bags would be nice too, but not necessary.
Can the bags be used in a compost bin? Trellis Earth suggests it is a waste of resources. To read why Trellis Earth advices against this read here . Still I would like to have the convenience of filling the small bags up with kitchen scraps and then just tossing the whole thing in the compost bin. The good news is that they are working on making it possible.
For more information on Trellis Earth bags and their products: how they are made, where they are made, how they are different from other plastic bags, etc. visit the Trellis Earth Website. Also take a look at their other list of products such as their dishes that can handle temperatures of up to 248 degrees F. Research more on biodegradable products and if you are interested try one of Trellis Earth’s sample packs for yourself.
Also visit The Biodegradable Products Institute for more information on Biodegradable products.