Compostable? I think not.

Compostable? I think not.

Two years ago, my children and I decided to conduct a little experiment.  That happens quite often here at 1840 Farm.  In fact, it’s strongly encouraged.  We started noticing a lot of compostable packaging on grocery store shelves and wondered just how quickly it would compost.

We buried a few bags, pouches, and cups that boasted their eco-friendliness in the bottom of one of our four compost bins.  I had forgotten all about this experiment until I was harvesting compost for our new raised beds last weekend.   As I used a shovel to remove the compost, I began to uncover the packaging one piece at a time.

While the materials were weakened and slightly worse for the wear, they were still intact.  The food scraps and leaves that had been in the bin were  transformed into beautiful compost.  During the same period of time, the supposedly earth friendly and compostable packaging was unchanged.

Compostable?  I think not.  Something stinks here and it sure isn’t the compost.




  1. These things are only compostable in a hot pile. Most people cold compost. I know I do. Its really a cheezy gimmick on the part of the manufacturer.

  2. Oh sure, it may be compostible in a hot pile, or whatever, for how long? Several (many?) years? But the real question is, what does it break down into? Tiny molecules of bad stuff is still bad stuff. Thanks for the experiment. Good stuff.

    1. Author

      I couldn’t agree more. To simply say that it is “compostable” packaging seems disingenuous. Home composters do not have a hot pile, but after multiple years it was shocking to see that it hadn’t even started to breakdown. Sometimes bad science is turned into good marketing!

  3. I solved that issue by not buying packaged goods. My motto is becoming: if it has a package, it is not real food. I am going for real food now, or trying mightily! We have reduced our packaged foods to a bare minimum.

    1. Author

      I agree. We do our best to eat as much fresh food and better yet, food produced on our property as possible. When we buy something in a package, we always choose a package that is recyclable or reusable if possible. Glad to hear that I have company on this one!

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