Sustainability & Green washing

I was not entirely sure what to call this post. Read on to find out about my dilemma last week.

I want to tell you all about my recent research into disposable cups for a new aspect of the business. I will be required to use either recyclable or compostable disposable cups for the drinks I will be serving.

Being a Permaculturalist in business, I fully support such an ethically sustainable business practice. At least I thought I did – until I examined the so-called “compostable” disposable cups we have here in Australia. Do not get me wrong – there is nothing wrong with the notion of “compostable” disposables. It is the way this gets accomplished that irks me. As well as the fact that the term “compostable” is, well, misleading.



Firstly, let me tell you a bit about the two cup options. There are fossil fuel based plastic recyclable cups. Then there are paper cups coated in plastic. The plastic is chemically very similar to the other recyclable cups BAR the plastic is derived from either corn starch or sugar cane. It can be composted. This is the same as bio-plastic bag material.

That sounds awesome! I hear you say. I thought so too. BUT WAIT, there is composting and there is composting. These disposables are only compostable in a “commercial compost facility”. Oh, ok, so we will just take them to one. NO! There are none in Australia.

What the … you heard me right. So, they have to be sent to landfill! They cannot be recycled or composted. But it is not quite as bad as it sounds because the bio-plastic will break down – ahem, eventually (as does fossil fuel plastic) – and then the paper underneath will breakdown and there will be nothing left to worry about.

Just do not ask how long it all takes nor how much farming land for human feed is given up to make these non-compostable compostables.

Deary, deary me – the anguish of trying to do the right thing and be sustainable in all decisions.

Peace to all, 

KISS for Life,


About mimb

Mother to two beautiful girls (both home birthed & home schooled), wife, Raw food (vegan) chef & coach, Permaculturalist, activist.
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