pskvorc(3)March 21, 2014

Some or most or all of "you" may be aware of this, but cellophane is - and I quote - 100% biodegradable.

"So what?" you may be asking. Well... Glad you asked.

I receive MANY envelopes each week in the mail, each with cellophane windows. Up to today, I was tearing off the cellophane because I didn't want it in with the worm bedding. I got tired of tearing those little windows out before I shredded the envelopes, so I looked up cellophane. If you believe what is written on Wikipedia and other web sources, it is 100% cellulose. I have looked up the chemical formula in a CRC and it is indeed "cellulose". Unless someone has some additional information that would override the above, I intend to "feed" cellulose as cellophane to my worms.

I am going to conduct a bit of an experiment, and drop some in some water for a while and see what the result is.


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Not all of them break down, I have tried, I just threw them all in, so I do not know which ones were biodegradable ..

    Bookmark   March 21, 2014 at 11:30PM
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I knew Cellophane was biodegradable. I think it is an old thyme thing and not tiny bits of plastic held together with corn starch that biodegradable means... ? breaks apart into tiny bits of plastic too small to see but bite size for worms? Craft stores sell Cellophane bags. I think it is a good substance. Now is the word Cellophane like the word Kleenex vs tissue? Is every window in every envelope Cellophane? Have you noticed any envelope windows that look a bit different than the others? Like cloudy and organic? They look fine too. Although they are called cellophane windows I am not convinced they are all cellophane material.

I can only advise, yes do a test. This is from those of us... all of us who have shredded stuff and had to remove 10 billion bits of tiny stuff from our finished vermicastings rather than 5 larger unshreded pieces.

Remember those biodegradable chip bags that were all the rage a few years back? Or plastic silverware that says biodegradable? Some of us have passed those through our bins a few times. Then threw them in the garbage with the objects still able to hold chips or stab french fries. This whole topic needs a lot more information easily available to pedestrian users without the time to do scientific testing on every item that claims biodegradability.

My solution: I have lots of corrugated cardboard... not that that is perfect either. So the volume of carbon available to me is such that I can recycle the less desirable junk mail and white office paper while the vermicompost gets only the tastiest of egg cartons and the best looking cardboard and only the nice leaves. If I was in an environment less resource rich I would use all I had and not waste any by recycling it to someone else.

I am glad you are doing the experiment because that is the only answer which will clear up the topic today. Tomorrow the answer may be different.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2014 at 12:07AM
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EEx2 - No shredded white in my bin. I have plenty of other suitable bedding, and other ways to recycle.

Interesting, I did not know the windows were biodegradable. Good info. Thanks

    Bookmark   March 22, 2014 at 12:26AM
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What will happen is the wormies will make the cellophane the last shred of edible stuff left in the bin before they are forced by the onset of starvation to eat it. You'd have completely "finished" VC with scraps of old envelopes in it. They'd eat it right before they had to try chewing on that staple left over from the tea bag.

A few years ago drier lint was a hot item for feeding worms.....until it laid around in bins for, oh.....ever. Then they decided that dryer lint had plastic, and dacron, and rayon, and the things that the Chinese make shirts, and blouses, and pants and sheets out of.

If a worm bins' primary function is waste disposal and not maximizing herd growth and viability, then OK with the envelopes. (but the recycle day of a garbage pickup schedule will make more envelopes out of them)


    Bookmark   March 22, 2014 at 9:08AM
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Thanks for the insights. I was hoping/expecting some experience-based comments. I noticed the lint fad comments in another thread. Honestly, using lint seems a little strange to me unless one were using only lint from pure cotton clothing. Of course, the cellophane (which is a trade name equinoxequinox), is a bit weird too. Maybe that's a 'sign'.

My thought was that the humidity in the bins would help break the cellophane down before the worms had to try to munch on it in its intact form. The water test may reveal whether that assumption (hope) was reasonable.

I also assumed that if the worms didn't like it, it would end up on the top of the VC. If so, I would return to excluding it from the shredded paper again. After the initial tests, I figured I would simply leave it in the compost when used for soil amendment. It will break down sooner or later. The cold is a pain up here, but the freeze/thaw cycle does "work" on stuff. That's both "good" and "bad".

I'll report what happens after a week in water.


    Bookmark   March 22, 2014 at 12:24PM
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After approximately 48 hours standing in room temperature water, the cellophane was more "rigid". Tough to describe actually. Not so much more "crinkly" or "brittle", but resisted crinkling more. I assume it absorbed water and became thicker, but I did not measure thickness before, so no comparison.

Since it wasn't "decomposing", I decided to heat the process up. I brought the water to a rolling boil. No change in the cellophane that could be detected without touching it with fingers, so...

As far as I'm concerned, Cellophane remains "out" as a potential source of carbon and will get removed from anything that gets shredded.


    Bookmark   March 23, 2014 at 12:55PM
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