Need help with your order? Call us at 831-869-8355  –   View Shopping Cart

Plastics in unexpected places (like IN beer)  Comments (0)

Beer now available with plasticSomewhat related to yesterday’s post (when plastic use is totally unnecessary), an article  at about a new study in Germany that found plastic particles in beer (present in the 24 brands of beer they studied or 100% of the beers included in the study).

Disturbing, yet not surprising, with our overuse of single use plastic bags, and inattention to all the plastic trash we produce!  No wonder the plastics end up in our food and beverage.

Link to the article: Plastic: Now available in your….beer?

Related beer article in Native Leaf’s blog: Cornstalk wine and other corn beverages (how about a sip of the “bone breaker” perhaps?)

When plastic use is totally unnecessary  Comments (0)

At Native Leaf, we are all about earth-friendly products and natural gift packaging.

So yes, we definitely promote using sustainably made products and using materials that can compost and biodegrade over time.

But like just about everyone on our planet we also use plastic containers and other plastic products, as sometimes there is simply no other product better than plastic for certain objects, or it may be that no other material can function like plastic.

I sometimes see products where the use of plastic — as trim or decoration — is totally unnecessary, especially when considering how we will dispose of certain products and objects after the item is no longer usable.  This sometimes happens when mixing modern materials like plastics with traditional materials from nature.

A good example is the traditional Philippine grass and bamboo broom, called a “walis tambo”.

plastic trim on walis tambo broom

Traditional brooms or “walis tambo” for sale, at our local Asian market.  Plastic is now used for the broom’s trim,  strapping and decorative touches.

Before the advent of plastic strapping materials and plastic trim, these brooms were made entirely from natural materials — and the entire broom would have been biodegradable.

These days, the walis tambo I find at our local markets are still made of grass, and the handles are still made of rattan or  bamboo (also a type of giant grass) or other wood, but now these have plastic trim and decoration, instead of the more traditional materials like bamboo or rattan strips, or natural and native twine.

The Problem….

So what’s the problem with this?

Well,  over time you will eventually need a NEW walis tambo, and have to dispose of your OLD walis tambo.

If you want to be a good steward of our environment, you would have to unravel all the plastic trimming to put the old broom in your compost pile, otherwise you may just get frustrated and throw it away where it will head to the landfill, taking up space with all the other non-recyclable junk we humans produce and use.

Why not just make the entire broom with natural materials, like on the photo examples below?

Natural walis tambo

Photo of traditional walis tambo, natural material Philippine broom (Note: not our photo, and we can’t seem to locate the source, so if you know of the photo source let us know so we can credit accordingly)

So yes, it does not have the extra color of the plastic trim — unless the natural materials are dyed — but I actually think the “all natural” brooms are prettier.

Hopefully, the makers of these brooms (typically a cottage industry / family endeavor) will return to using natural materials to construct the entire broom.

What do you think?  Do you like the plastic trimmed walis tambo or the all natural material type?

Do you have examples of other objects that use plastics unnecessarily?  If you do, please comment and send us a photo!

— mj

Related Native Leaf post:

Top 5 most widely produced vegetable-based oils in the world (and it’s not olive oil or coconut oil)  Comments (0)


Field of yellow flowers photo are of the rapeseed plant (brassica napu). Related to mustard and cabbage plants, a cultivar of rapeseed is what is used to make “Canola” oil.  Photo via Wikipedia commons.

There are so many different types of cooking oil available to consumers today — and it is quite easy to buy just about any type of cooking oil imaginable at your grocery store or through on-line merchants.

Olive oil continues to gain popularity in the U.S., and more recently, all things coconut, especially coconut oil is also gaining a lot of attention.

It got me wondering about the types of vegetable-based oils used around the world, and which type is the most popular.

Here is what I found out…

The the top 5 vegetable-based oils used world-wide are:

  • Palm Oil
  • Soybean Oil
  • Rapeseed (Canola oil)
  • Sunflower Oil
  • Peanut Oil

The list of top 9 by world consumption, in million metric tons and notes are below.

Oil source

World consumption

(million metric tons)


Palm 41.31 The most widely produced tropical oil, also used to make biofuel
Soybean 41.28 Accounts for about half of worldwide edible oil production
Rapeseed 18.24 One of the most widely used cooking oils, canola is a variety (cultivar) of rapeseed
Sunflower seed 9.91 A common cooking oil, also used to make biodiesel
Peanut 4.82 Mild-flavored cooking oil
Cottonseed 4.99 A major food oil, often used in industrial food processing
Palm kernel 4.85 From the seed of the African palm tree
Coconut 3.48 Used in soaps and cooking
Olive 2.84 Used in cooking, cosmetics, soaps and as a fuel for traditional oil lamps


Note: This data is for world consumption of oils used for cooking (blends), for straight vegetable oils, for oils to make biodiesel, for oils in industrial use and animal feed use. Information Source: USDA, Table Source: Wikipedia

Were you surprised — as I was — to see coconut oil and olive oil ranked #8 and #9, respectively, and not in the top five?


Can you tell we love using old plant prints on our blog posts and pages? This one is of the rapeseed  plant (for “Canola” oil), a print from 1896 by Franz Eugen Köhler

Did you know….

  • Rudolf Diesel (the German inventor of the diesel engine) originally designed his engine to run on peanut oil.
  • “Canola” oil — made from the rapeseed plant — got its name from the Canadian researchers who developed a variety used for cooking oil sold in the market today.  The name “canola” was coined from “Canada Oil low acid”.   Definitely better sounding than “rapeseed”.


California Millers Blend Olive Oil

Do you have a favorite oil to use in your household?

In our kitchen, we primarily use extra virgin olive oil, and do keep corn oil on hand for frying or if we need an oil that can tolerate cooking in higher temperatures.

For everyday cooking, we use the California Olive Ranch “Bold & Peppery” Miller’s Blend extra virgin olive oil. 

As the name implies, the olive oils are from California sources, since after all, we are based in California.  It’s delicious!

And if you are looking for the perfect earth-friendly gift bag for the next time you give a gift of delicious olive oil to your host or hostess, or for a housewarming present, be sure to check out our handcrafted and sustainably made olive oil gift bags on our market pages.  — mj

natural packaging olive oil bags

Omiyage – Japanese and more gift-giving tradition  Comments (0)

We posted about Japanese gift giving traditions (omiyage) recently, so my ears perked up when I heard a call into the Splendid Table radio show about what gifts to take to Japan, for those visiting from the United States.

The host, Lynne Rossetto Kasper responded with what I thought was a a perfect suggestion…maple syrup!

Maple syrup is something that is uniquely North American, fairly easy to transport, delicious and considered by most as a special treat.   Plus, it is probably hard to find maple syrup in other parts of the world.

Here in California, we have terrific options for omiyage and gift giving.

With the Mediterranean climate, there is an abundance of top wines, award-winning olive oils, nuts (almonds are the most popular) and a wide array of fresh fruits — or dried fruit if you are going overseas — as well as artisan crafted foods to present to your hosts.

Mini Gift Bag cacao brown rd

The photo featured above  is our unique, earth friendly mini gift bag filled with citrus. Hand-woven romblon leaf baskets in cacao brown colors make a nice contrast to oranges and these clementines.  

What gifts do you like to give from the area you call home, when visiting friends and relatives out-of-state or overseas?  Please comment and tell us about gift items that were huge hits…or also of times when the gift was a “miss” or misunderstood.  Note: If you do not see the comment box at the bottom of the blog post, click on the blog post title, which should refresh the page to allow comments. 

By the way, if you have an abundance of fruit from the summertime farmers market, there is a great article on the Splendid Table’s website on how to transform fruits, vegetables and herbs into homemade liqueurs, including some recipes that are quite simple.

And for earth friendly and unique gift packaging for your own gift giving traditions, visit our Market Page (Home Page), here.

Nito material (a type of climbing fern) and weaving photos  Comments (0)

A recent comment on my blog post “From nito basket…to Native Leaf” reminded me that I had some photos of  nito — a type of climbing fern that grows in parts of the Philippines.  It is used to make baskets, hats and other household items.

The very first Philippine basket I owned was made of nito vine.

First photo, harvested and bundled nito ready for weaving, second photo weaving nito basket and last photo, finished product – nito paper plate holder.

bundle of nito vine web

Weaving nito plate holder basket web

Nito plate holder basket web

The comment was related to bayong (market tote) use in the Philippines, and it was a positive development!  See blog post / comment, here. 

I have since added the bundle of nito vine photo to the article.

For more about the nito plant, see the Philippine medicinal plants section of  Stuartxchange’s website (Lygodium circinnatum).

— mj

Napkin ring traditions – and when they first appeared in table settings  Comments (0)

We added our handcrafted wood bead napkin rings to our market pages…and of course, it got us curious about when napkin rings started to appear in table settings. (Photo below picking, sorting and threading wood beads onto copper wiring to make Native Leaf’s wood bead napkin rings)

sort pick and threading wood bead napkin rings

So… it turns out that it is was just over 200 years ago that napkin rings started to appear in table settings.  Napkin rings were first used in the 1800’s by the French middle class and were mostly made of silver and silver plate, as well as bone, wood and pearls.

In the days before disposable paper napkins, napkin rings were also used as a way to keep track of napkins used by various family members, and to track when it was time to launder the napkin (and by the way, despite the ease of using disposable napkins, in our household we prefer sturdy cloth napkins which get softer the longer we have them).

These days, napkin rings not only hold napkins, they also help to define or tie together table setting colors and themes.

You can find napkin rings made from just about every material and motif imaginable, from natural materials like coconut timber and palm seeds (photo below),  woven rattan and woven pandanus (romblon leaves), carved wood and figurines, to wire and jewel beads, variations of tassels, or encrusted with fancy stones and beads.

I’ve even seen napkin rings made from recycled denim jeans as well as edible napkin rings made from jelly beans!

close up coconut timber and palm seeds web

Native Leaf’s natural napkin rings made from coconut wood and palm seeds. Both have unique features from the natural, speckled properties of coconut timber and very cool veining of palm seeds.

CREATIVE TIP:  Our customers also use our handmade napkin rings as a holder for invitations or to hold rolled up menus or announcements on table settings.

history napkin rings postTo learn more about how place settings evolved over time, visit the informative blog pages of the The Clermont State Historic Site, here.


Things started developing into a pretty recognizable form by the beginning of the 18th century, when forks were making it onto the scene and napkins were increasing in popularity and availability.

Early on in the process, the stalwart dinner fork got put on the left side and staid there. Bless its little heart. You can always count on the dinner fork. You can see it at left even in the Thomas Rowlandson satirical cartoon of 1788. The fellows in the picture may look like uncultured slobs, but at least they know where the dinner fork goes. (Old drawing at left from the blog post and features an early illustration of table setting with napkin rings.)

If you love using napkin rings, our fun and affordable napkin rings will add color as well as added texture to your table settings.  Order now to have our colorful napkin rings at your next special occasion event, or switch colors by season or every month.  With our super pricing, you can even change ring colors every day!  Or mix and match the colors for a festive and bright look to your table setting.

Napkin ring market pages:

And so…are you in the napkin ring or no napkin ring camp?  Do you use them all the time, or only sometimes like on special occasion holidays?

Napkin ring sets – handcrafted from dyed natural wood beads  Comments (0)

We are posting our beautiful wood bead napkin rings, handcrafted from acacia beads and threaded with copper wiring on our market pages this week.

We have ten terrific colors available as pictured below:

Natural wood bead napkin rings

The wood beads are available in packs of 4, contained in our hand-woven natural fiber gift pouches.  These rings add a decorative and textural element to your table setting, and made from sustainable materials.

Lemon napkin ringsPhoto above features our lemon wood bead napkin rings, in our matching (and super cute) natural textile gift pouch, accented with lemon and orchid pink colored beads.

lemon lime green natural napkin rings

Photo of 3 of our natural wood bead napkin rings — from top to bottom in moss-green, lemon and lime.

Call or email us anytime at if you would like to pre-order or have any questions.  Price is $5.95 per set of 4 in gift pouch.

Related: Natural Pouch Gift Packaging from Native Leaf (Abaca / sinamay textile)

Millions of coconut trees destroyed by Typhoon Haiyan  Comments (0)

We have posted often about the importance of coconut trees to Philippine culture and the economy.  The Philippines is the largest producer of coconuts in the world.

The devastating November, 2013 Super Typhoon, Haiyan (known as typhoon Yolanda in the Philippines) destroyed millions of coconut trees.

Many coconut trees in the area did not survive Haiyan’s 195 mph winds — the most intense tropical cyclone ever recorded.

It takes from six to eight years for coconuts to produce, so many more years until small farms and large plantations are able to harvest coconuts from replanted trees.

Photo of Tacloban coconut trees by Eleanor Farmer/OxfamPhoto via The Guardian

Government estimates indicate between 25 percent and 33 percent of the Philippine population depend on coconuts for their livelihood (US Library of Congress).

And unless global warming issues that are increasing temperatures of our oceans and atmosphere are addressed, these super typhoons will only increase in strength, further exposing the islands and millions of people to more devastation.

The Philippines is the 12th most populous nation in the world, after Mexico.

Photo above shows uprooted coconut trees on a hill near the town of Guiuan in Eastern Samar province in the central Philippines on November 11, 2013 only days after Super Typhoon Haiyan devastated the town on November 8, in what is feared to be the country’s worst natural disaster.

Origins of this weekend’s special day…and origins of most orchids sold in today’s marketplace  Comments (0)

Quiz related to this weekend’s special day:

Out of all the days of the year, what day is the most popular day to eat out at restaurants in the United States?


  • In 1910, this day was proclaimed as an official holiday by the state of West Virgina — and other states soon followed
  • In 1934, President Franklin D. Roosevelt approved a stamp that commemorated this holiday.

Click on this Native Leaf blog post for the answer…

Orchids for sale at the market rd

Photo: In the Philippines, orchids are often sold at the market upside down like in these photos taken at a festival marketplace. You take your orchids home and place it in your own container or tie it to a post with growing mulch in your garden and backyard. Click on the photo to learn the origins of most orchids sold in the marketplace today…

Orchids for sale at the market 3 rd

Coconut Wine  Comments (0)

Related to the prior post and same book, here is a photo from over 100 years ago of a man climbing a coconut tree to collect coconut wine.

A section of bamboo strapped to his back is used as the wine container.

tuba gathering from coconut tree

Photo above from the book “The Philippine Islands” from the Gutenberg website, by Ramon Reyes Lala. It was published in 1898 by the Continental Publishing Company.

Coconut related Native Leaf post:

Excerpt:  The sap from birch and maple trees can also be made into wines, and palm wines from various palm trees or coconut palms (cocos nucifera) are popular in many parts of Asia and Africa.

In the Philippines, the freshly harvested coconut sap wine is referred to as “tuba” and is a popular alcohol beverage in the rural areas.  The distilled version of tuba is called lambanog…(read the article, here)


Lately, it seems all things coconut are available for sale just about everywhere.

Coconut bits, coconut milk, coconut butter lotion, coconut oil, coconut sugar and so on.

What I have noticed most of all, is  the proliferation of coconut juice brands  or coconut water for sale at local grocery stores.  Coconut water is the liquid inside green, young coconuts.

And it turns out that coconut water is one of the fastest growing beverage category in the U.S. and in the U.K…. (read the article, here)

Note: Click on the blog post title to comment if you cannot view the comment box.

natural packaging olive oil bags w egp for post

And  our home (market) pages to view Native Leaf’s uniquely textured, earth friendly wine bags or olive oil /dessert wine bottle containers, hand-crafted made from natural and sustainable materials.

Copra – source of coconut oil from the tree of life  Comments (0)

for copra

Photo: – Coconut meat sun-drying and headed for the copra trade

Coconut products — especially coconut water and coconut oil are very popular now.   Just about all parts of the coconut —  from the trunk, the fruit or seed,  to the fronds are used for local or commercial purpose.  Coconut oil is used for cooking, as well as in soaps and cosmetics.

Coconut oil is derived  from Copra — the dried meat from mature coconut seeds.  It is made by removing the husk and shell off the coconut and either sun-drying or kiln drying and smoking the meat.

Copra is a major agricultural product in coconut-producing countries and concentrated mostly in the Philippines — where the coconut tree is referred to as the tree of life —  as well as in India and Indonesia.

Growing up in the Philippines, I remember my cousin making his own copra as a way to earn money while barely a teenager, using a small bamboo kiln that he built along the hillside behind their home.

Although there are large coconut plantations that produce copra, most of the copra production in the Philippines still come from small family producers.

Driving around areas that produce copra (which is just about everywhere in the Philippines),  you will often see coconut meat for the copra trade drying along  the roadside, or in sacks atop of buses, jeeps and motorcycle put-puts headed to the warehouses of copra distributors.

Copra drying by the roadside

Copra drying by the roadside 1

I recently ran across an old book titled “The Philippine Islands” from the Gutenberg website by Ramon Reyes Lala.  It was published in 1898 by the Continental Publishing Company and had this description of the of  the coconut palm.

frontcover The Philippine IslandsExcerpt:

Cocoanut plantations are among the surest sources of revenue in the Philippines. The fruit is in demand in every market in the world—as much so as oranges and lemons; and every part of the tree can be sold.

…In many provinces this palm is cultivated for the oil only, which is then used either at home or is shipped to Europe.

In the European climate it is solid and is made into soap and candles. In the islands the heat reduces it to a liquid, which is used for oiling machinery, for lighting, and for cooking purposes.

…The majority of the inhabitants use cocoanut oil from reasons of economy. The factories are small bamboo huts, and the process primitive.

The nuts are first dried, then halved and scraped,—an easy process while the pulp is fresh.

The mass is then pressed, to express the oil, and the refuse boiled in order to obtain what is left of the fatty substance. This is skimmed off. The whole is then packed into kegs, and is ready for the markets of Manila or Madrid.

The meat of the nut is eaten as food by the natives, or made into sweets. The milk, or water, is a refreshing and harmless drink, and makes good vinegar also.   … Every part of the tree is used. The native dwells in a house made of the trunk and thatched with the leaves.

From it he obtains light, fire, rope, brushes, mats, furniture, clothing, and, in fact, all the necessaries of life.  In Europe and America the coir, or outer covering of the cocoanut shell, is made into ropes and cocoa-matting.

Today, coconut coir — made from the husk of the coconut seed —  is still used to create floor mats and in orchid potting mix or garden mulch/compost, and copra is still produced in small-scale farming environments.

Of  interest is the  description to make oil from coconut meat (copra), and that over 100 years later, the source is still mainly small farm producers.  Though thankfully, light is now derived from electricity and not coconut oil and mechanically expressing the oil from the copra is done at larger scales.

Did you know…The only U.S. states where coconuts can be grown are Hawaii and Southern Florida, and in micro climate areas of Texas and California (though in these micro-climate areas, the trees are susceptible to dying from occasional freezing temperatures).

Coconut related Native Leaf post:

Coconut Wood Napkin Rings 2Coconut products available  at Native Leaf are:

Do you know of other unique uses for coconut oil?  Is there a tree or plant from your culture as important as the coconut tree is to Filipinos?  Please comment  and let us know!  (Click on the blog title page to open comment box) — mj

That powerdery white, bluish-green mold on your lemon  Comments (0)

Has this happened to your lemons or other citrus you have taken home or picked from your tree?  Did you wonder (after thinking…ick! ) what is this powdery white, blue-green stuff, and why does it so quickly turn a perfectly nice lemon into a gooey moldy mess?

Mold on Lemon 1 web

A few months ago, we posted about the difference between the terms biodegradable and compostable (view post here).

In nature, mold helps food and other materials rot and is part of the composting process.   Mold is a recycler, since the rotten items return back to our soil and provides nutrients for other living things.

Because lemons have thick rinds that have aromatic oils, it can usually stop most types of mold…except that is,  for the penicillium digitatum -–  a type of bluish-green mold that specializes in citrus.

After about a week outdoors (in Central California coastal weather)  the lemon looked like this… sort of mummified.  Indoors with warmer temperatures, the lemons can sometimes collapses into a gooey mess, and much quicker.

Mold on Lemon 2 web

Penicillium types of mold are common and usually not harmful to healthy people — it is one of most common causes of spoiling fruits and vegetables, and what makes blue cheese.

If you find one of your citrus fruits infected with mold, it is best to remove it (very carefully) from your lemon bowl as the spores can be easily dispersed and then infect the other lemons!

Natural Gift Basket Tote RAB4 Lemons rd

Bag of lemons in Native Leaf handwoven gift tote


Native Leaf Blog Post – Difference between the terms biodegradable and compostable

How to Put Moldy Food in Compost –  from

The Best Way to Keep Lemons Fresh – from the

Video below from Cornell Plant Pathology Lab shows a (36 seconds long) 12 day time-lapse movie of a lemon being devoured by the fungus Penicillium digitatum.

P. digitatum causes green mold, a common post harvest disease of citrus. This is the fungus you find in your fruit bowl… as you go to grab that juicy looking orange, your finger sinks into the soft rotten flesh not knowing Penicillium beat you to it. Images were taken at 15-minute intervals.

Japanese gift giving traditions (a box of mochi or manju?)  Comments (0)

We continue to learn about and add information to our blog pages on traditions of gift giving in other cultures.  For this post, we focus on Japanese gift giving traditions or “Omiyage”.

An article by Evelyn Iritani on Japanese Omiyage (Huffington Post Zester Daily: The culture of food and drink) provides great insight to this Japanese tradition that food lovers from ALL cultures can embrace.  Excerpt:

Omiyage is the tradition of gift-giving that permeates Japanese culture. Holiday celebrations. Business meetings. Travel abroad. The Japanese are a nation of gift-givers, and their stores are filled with exquisitely wrapped mementos of all shapes and sizes. You can give someone a bottle of expensive liquor, four individually wrapped apples or a beautiful box of mochi or manju, the chewy rice cakes filled with sweet bean paste.  Read the full article, here….

Have you had Japanese mochi or manju?

Many years ago, my younger sister and I stumbled into a tiny mochi store while in San Francisco’s Japantown area.  The mochis were a work of art… and heavenly to eat.

Of course having grown up in the Philippines, we are accustomed to rice flour-based and sweet bean (or yam) desserts, and instantly loved Japanese mochis — but they may not be to everyone’s liking.

manju-and-mochi at Benkyodo

Manju and mochi for sale at Benkyodo. Click on photo to link to Benkyodo’s website. Photo from Benkyodo.

The bakery — Benkyodo Company — is still operating, and all mochi / manju are made fresh daily.

The Benkyodo bakery celebrated its 100 year anniversary in 2006 — and it is still much-loved — with over 600 yelp reviews averaging 4.5 stars!  If you are in the San Francisco Bay Area, the shop is located on the corner of Sutter and Buchanan in San Francisco’s Japantown.

There are also spots in San Jose’s Japantown that we plan to check out…have you eaten manju from Shuei-Do at 217 Jackson Street in San Jose?  The Japantown San Jose website posted the following information:

Manju are a Japanese delicacy. They come in all forms and colors, shapes and sizes. Some are baked, some put on sticks, some are made with sweet rice (mochi) and some made with rice powder. They are often filled with a sweet bean paste called “an”. Shuei-do was honored to have their manju served to the Emperor of Japan on their last visit to the United States.

Related posts:

Is zero waste possible? The city of San Francsico thinks so!  Comments (0)

Zero waste means sending NOTHING to the landfill or for incineration.

We recycle and reuse what we can…but  zero waste?  Can you imagine generating zero waste in your own household?

View of San Francisco from TI rd

Early evening panorama photo of picturesque and environmentally progressive city of San Francisco, California (population 825,863). Photo taken from Treasure Island, California

In a  study of metropolitan area cities in the U.S. and Canada called the North American Green Cities Index, San Francisco was named the greenest city in North America for its environmental performance and outlook.

zerowaste SF

Right now, 80% of  San Francisco’s waste is diverted from going to  landfills or for incineration.  Pretty good for a major U.S. city right?  But 80% is not good enough for a city with goals of Zero Waste by 2020.

One way to get to a goal of zero waste in 6 years is to tackle recycling of textiles — since it turns out that San Franciscans send 4,500 pounds of textile to the landfill every hour.

textiles clothes_pileAnd it turns out too, that much of the 39 million pounds of textiles the rest of us send to the U.S. waste stream each year can be reused or recycled into insulation material, or for flooring, packaging, or cushioning in stuffed toys, insoles, and bags.

With 82% of Americans now living in cities, implementing aggressive waste reduction goals is a must for metropolitan areas.

San Francisco — with its zero waste goals —  seems a model “green city” now, and a model for the future.

Related links:

The U.S. Zero Waste Business Council – Their vision: The U. S. Zero Waste Business Council will create a solid foundation that advances the integrity and credibility of Zero Waste. Zero Waste Businesses save money, are more efficient, manage risk, reduce litter and pollution, cut greenhouse gases, reinvest resources locally, and create jobs and more value for their business and the community.

San Francisco County Quick Facts from the US Census Bureau

SF zero waste textile bin

Click on the textile bin photo or here for San Francisco’s Zero Waste Textile Recycling Initiative (free textile collection bins for business, apartments, and for community groups).

What do you think about zero waste goals and programs?

Do you recycle all your textiles by donating to local organizations or would you use these textile drop off bins if these are available where you live or work?

Difference between terms biodegradable and compostable  Comments (0)

We often hear about or read the terms “biodegradable” and “compostable” — including here at the Native Leaf website.  Is there a difference or do the terms mean the same?

Biodegradable refers to natural materials like food, leaves and plant material that are decomposed by living organisms and bacteria.  When exposed to air, moisture, bacteria and other organisms, biodegradable items breaks back down to elements found in nature.

Mycetozoa haeckel plate print

Mycetozoa haeckel plate print text

Compostable generally means that a product can be composted right in one’s compost pile (garden or backyard) or sent to a local composting facility.

From the US Environmental Protection Agency’s Resource Conservation web page:

Compost is organic material that can be used as a soil amendment or as a medium to grow plants. Mature compost is a stable material with a content called humus that is dark brown or black and has a soil-like, earthy smell. It is created by: combining organic wastes (e.g., yard trimmings, food wastes, manures) in proper ratios into piles, rows, or vessels; adding bulking agents (e.g., wood chips) as necessary to accelerate the breakdown of organic materials; and allowing the finished material to fully stabilize and mature through a curing process.

Natural composting, or biological decomposition, began with the first plants on earth and has been going on ever since. As vegetation falls to the ground, it slowly decays, providing minerals and nutrients needed for plants, animals, and microorganisms. Mature compost, however, includes the production of high temperatures to destroy pathogens and weed seeds that natural decomposition does not destroy.

Our natural, artisan crafted gift packaging products are really simple.  All are made from leaves, plant material or 100% pure plant fiber from abaca (musa textilis), and are biodegradable, and compostable.

Recycle Globe

In terms of conservation and doing what we can for our environment, it’s a good idea to remember the “4-Rs” - to reduce, reuse, recycle to rethink…and to compost whenever possible.

We, as consumers can be mindful of what products are truly biodegradable.  But even with our good intentions to buy biodegradable products, if we don’t compost in our backyard or send these items to a composting facility via our waste collection system, it could still end up at a landfill, where it takes up space and take decades to decompose (since landfills are constructed to keep air, sun, and water away).

And most all….definitely keep trash — all trash — out of our oceans, where some items like fishing lines can take up to 600 years to biodegrade or end up as part of the trash gyre polluting our oceans.

And speaking of the world-wide environmental problem of ocean trash and how long common items take to biodegrade, here is an informative chart from the Hawaii-based C-More (Center for Microbial Oceanography Research and Education) website:


Marine Debris Biodegradation Time Line

Time to degrade
phot of jar with marine debris
Paper towel 2-4 weeks
Newspaper 6 weeks
Cardboard box 2 months
Waxed milk carton 3 months
Apple core 2 months
Cotton gloves 1-5 months
Wool gloves 1 year
Plywood 1-3 years
Painted wooden sticks 13 years
Photo-degradable beverage holder 6 months
Plastic beverage holder 400 years
Plastic bags 10-20 years
Plastic bottle 100 years
Glass bottle and jars undetermined
Disposable diapers 50-100 years
Tin can 50 years
Aluminium can 200 years
Monofilament fishing line 600 years

Related: Trash and plastics vortex now the size of the state of Texas (North Pacific trash gyre)

%d bloggers like this: