The true meaning behind eco-friendly terms

Biodegradable, compostable, biobased, plant-based, recyclable, upcycling… we hear these terms more and more but do you really know what they mean?

We’re diving into all these eco-friendly terms today because when we are better informed, we can make better decisions –  for ourselves, and the planet! 


A biodegradable product will break down by the action of microorganisms. Without the help of these microorganisms, the product can’t decompose properly. It is important to dispose of biodegradable products in conditions where microorganisms can do their job and turn the products back to the natural environment without causing any harm. Without it, it can take hundreds of years to decompose. 


Compostable products are all biodegradable but additionally, they will turn into compost when breaking down. Compost is a fertilizing mixture made of organic matter.

There are two different types of compostable products:

  • Backyard compostable products: They don’t need specific conditions to decompose into compost. It can be done in your regular backyard compost, it’s the same process as other organic waste.
  • Commercially compostable products: They need to be disposed of in a facility to help the decomposition process. That facility creates the perfect temperature, oxygen, and moisture to facilitate the decomposition of the product into compost.

Our Plantry collection of tableware and cutlery is USDA biobased certified 100% and compostable in your own backyard in 45 days! 

Biobased & Plant-based

Biobased products come from plants, organic matter, and other renewable materials. Plant-based products are biobased products that come mainly from plants. 

This doesn’t mean they are biodegradable or compostable, simply that the material used to make them comes from renewable materials. 

Our GloveUp gloves are plant-based and certified BPI commercially compostable. Once disposed of in the right facilities they will be able to decompose correctly.


A plant-based product is vegan but a vegan product isn’t necessarily plant-based. Vegan means it doesn’t use any products coming from animals. Vegan leather for example could be made from plastic which would be vegan but not plant-based. 


A product is recyclable if it can be collected to be transformed and turned into something else. It won’t decompose but will be used to create new products.


A product is being upcycled when we use it for another purpose without transforming it. Imagine an old boot that will be used as a flower planter for example. 

Making sure we get familiarized with these terms is really important not only to better understand the products we buy but also to make sure we can dispose of them correctly.

Make informed and conscious purchases. Shop our entire SellSage collection here.

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