Are Paper Towels Biodegradable? The Ultimate Guide

are paper towels biodegradable

Are paper towels biodegradable or can you compost paper towel? If you are an environmentalist or someone who wants to save our planet earth, then these questions most likely crossed your mind. Since millions of people worldwide use paper towels, it’s quite surprising to know that thousands of trees are cut down each day to produce them.

The most severe floods, which have taken many lives, are caused by deforestation due to big companies opting to cut down the trees to produce and address human demand, needs, and necessities.

If you are interested in helping the environment, then this is undoubtedly a good read for you. Go forth, read on and save the world!

Can You Compost Paper Towels?

Composting is a procedure that utilizes natural biological action to break down natural matter into a nutritionally-rich soil amendment. Many people around the globe practice this kind of process. 

Properly composting your organic materials doesn’t only enable you to avoid spending hundreds of bucks for human-made soil enrichment for your garden. Still, it also boosts your soil’s natural properties without harsh chemicals causing damage.     

Among the excellent materials, you can use for composting is your paper towels! That’s right; you can compost your paper towels if done correctly. 

What Kind of Paper Towels Can I Compose?

biodegrade paper towel

Before you get all giddy from your newly found information, take note that not all paper towels can just be safely thrown in your compost bin. There are a few things you need to consider properly.

Do Not Throw: Chemical Soaked Tissue Papers

If your tissue paper has been used to wipe off any cleaning chemicals such as bleach, detergents, and the likes, don’t place it in your composting bin too. You don’t know how those chemicals can affect your micro and microorganism buddies staying in your bin.

The same goes for your paper towels soaked in “green” cleaning products. Even green or eco-friendly cleaners strive to kill bacteria, and we do not want it to eliminate the good ones since this is what helps compost your materials.

Do Not Throw: Grease Filled Tissue Papers

You could not throw in your kitchen tissue for composition if used to wipe off any grease type such as butter or oil. The grease and oil will push oxygen out of your compost bin, which will create a haven for anaerobic bacteria (the smelly and nasty kind you want to avoid)

The anaerobic bacteria can potentially cause damage to your soil’s properties and may even contaminate your whole bin, forcing you to throw out your soil. You can toss your greasy kitchen tissue in the garbage instead.

You May Throw: All Other Paper Towels

Those Paper towels that are not filled with chemicals or grease will safely decompose quickly in your bin. This kind of material is considered a carbon or brown, rich material and can be used as a substitute for leaves if you seem to be running low. A paper towel with water, dirt, or plant-based food is entirely excellent for your compost bin.

Are Paper Towels Biodegradable? How Do You Do It?

So, if you ask then the answer is Yes!  Since paper towels are not made with any harsh chemicals that can harm the environment, they are considered excellent for composting.

If you are planning to go eco-friendly and want to save up on money from buying new soil and enrichment, then you may follow these quick yet effective methods:

Method #1: Composting Toilet Paper Using Worms

If you’re someone who doesn’t like slither-sliders, then you’ll dislike this method. Vermicomposting is what we call the process of using worms as a decomposer. However, utilizing red earthworms for composting tissue paper is among the most popular and effective ways you can choose.

These worms have one aim in life: to eat your scraps and poop them into super healthy and rich soil. Although many organisms can do the same, earthworms and their digestive tract are the very best.

The Process:

Step 1: Start off by grabbing a long and wide plastic bin. This is better than one that is deep and narrow. Also, make sure the bin comes with a lid since we will be using it to cover the container.

Step 2: Take a drill or a hammer and poke small holes on the lid top. Your earthworms need to get oxygen, or they might die!

Step 3: Once the lid and container are ready, grab your moistened and shredded paper towel as well as other food scraps (such as banana peels, apple skins, etc.) and place it in the bin.

Step 4: Take out one pound of earthworms and carefully scatter them in your container. Close the lid and move the materials in the bin every once a week to allow alteration.

Step 5: You may also add some sawdust to avoid bad smells or other bugs from lingering in your bin. Your healthy soil will be ready in a month or two.

are paper plates compostable

Method #2: Composting Materials Using Natural Heat

The name “hot composting” refers to how microbial interaction within the compost pile is used to an advantage, which will result in finished compost in a much shorter time.

This method is commonly used by people who are a bit in a rush to start with their gardening. Although it may require special treatment and a fair amount of effort, it’s a great way to get that much-awaited soil faster.

The Process:

Step 1: The size of your bin is vital when it comes to hot composting. If it’s too small, the pile won’t heat up properly. The ideal size for a hot composting bin is at least five feet wide by five feet high.

Step 2: Once you’ve got your bin ready, take out your toilet paper and other organic materials you’d like to compost. Make sure everything is shredded since doing this will help the materials decompose faster.

Step 3: Place everything in your bin and gently moisten the materials with water. You may also add a shovel-full of finished compost.

Step 4: Doing this will allow the finished compost’s properties to act as an activator for the bacteria to start composting.

Step 5: After everything is in place, place the bin in an area where direct sunlight can reach it. The heat will trigger the bacteria to break down your scraps faster.

Step 6: Moisten and turn over the pile once or twice a week. Your fresh and rich brown soil will be ready within three weeks or so.

Method 3: Composting in a Barrel

Now you might be thinking, “How am I supposed to compost my soil in a barrel?” But you’d be surprised that this method is used by many, especially those people who are living in apartments or only have limited space.

However, take note that the barrel method is only suited for individuals who don’t need a tremendous amount of soil, perhaps those who just aim to maintain a small garden in their balcony or patio.

The Process

Step 1: Start off by grabbing a large barrel. It’s recommended to have one that’s big since it’ll give you enough space to produce more soil.

Step 2: Take out your shredded toilet paper along with some finely shredded brown cardboard. Bond-paper size cardboard would be enough.

Step 3: Cardboard is excellent for improving the quality and structure of your compost because it helps produce air pockets. Oxygen is a vital ingredient since the composting microbes use it to do their job well.

Step 4: Once you’ve placed all the needed materials, pour in a little water to moisten the cardboard and toilet paper. Moisture is needed to boost the performance of the microbes.

Step 5: Keep your barrel in an area where it can get enough sunlight. Near a window or on your balcony can be the right place. Ensure that you alter the materials inside your barrel occasionally, so composting would be faster.

Your rich soil will be ready in 1 to 2 months.

Are Paper Plates Compostable?

Paper plates are among the wisest invention humanity has ever made. I mean, who doesn’t like skipping out on washing dishes, right? However, although this material is paper made you have to be cautious when including this in your composting bin.

Paper plates are indeed compostable, but you have to be aware of those that have a poly coating or contain special chemicals.

A plate that is poly-coated is one that has a thin cover of plastic. This helps keep the moisture of food out. Some even have harsh chemicals such as ink printed on them, so this kind of plates should never be composed.

How to Compost Paper Plates?

Composting paper plates are somehow similar to paper towel compost. It’s swiftly easy, and it won’t require you a lot of effort to do. However, just ensure you follow the proper steps, and you examine your paper plates well to keep your pile healthy when adding your paper plates to it.

The Process:

Step 1: Begin by examining your paper plates.  If you can confirm that it doesn’t contain any unneeded chemicals and food such as dairy and grease, you may now shred it.

Step 2: Your paper plate must be shredded in fine and tiny pieces in order to ensure that it composes well with the existing pile.

Step 3: Moist it with water using a spray bottle since this can help you control the quantity of water added. Once done, place it in your compost bin.

Step 4: Maintain a healthy compost pile by regularly turning it. This will disperse the warmth in the core and distribute the needed microorganisms, which are hard at work.

Conclusion

Now that we’ve answered your question, “ Are paper towels biodegradable?” You are now one step at saving the environment. Whether you have a large backyard or even just a little balcony as a garden, you can do organic compost yourself.

Many people, especially those who are passionate about making a difference, have chosen to recycle or compost materials that can lessen the problems of the earth, and with this new knowledge you’ve acquired, you can do the same!

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