If you want to start making greener choices in your life, it’s a good idea to start paying attention to the products you buy – in particular, to the materials they’re made from.
Many of us are trying to cut down on the amount of plastic products and packaging we use. But what should we use instead of plastic?
Manufacturers are increasingly turning to silicone when making products for babies and children. So you might wonder – is silicone environmentally friendly?
What is Silicone?
Silicone is a polymer made by combining the crystalline chemical element silicon with other elements, including oxygen, hydrogen, and carbon.
Why is Silicone so Popular?
It’s a popular material in manufacturing because it’s so versatile. You can make silicone into a number of different consistencies, from gels to solids. And as a solid, silicone can be rubbery or rock-hard, depending on its composition.
So like plastic, you can essentially make silicone whatever you need it to be. But plastic can be terrible for the environment. So how does silicone compare? Is silicone environmentally friendly?
Is Silicone Environmentally Friendly?
Silicone is certainly more environmentally friendly than plastic. It takes a lot of resources to make plastic, often including non-renewable crude oil. But silicone is made from silica, a substance that derives from sand. No crude oil is required to make it, and it also happens to be a lot more durable than plastic.
Silicone products therefore tend to last longer than plastic products. They’re less likely to break, so you’re less likely to dispose of them and buy equally harmful replacements. Silicone is also much easier to recycle than plastic.
Plastic can also take hundreds of years to biodegrade. not biodegradable, it doesn’t break down in the same way as plastic. As they decay, plastics create small particles called microplastics, which are particularly harmful to oceans. Silicone does not do this. So even if it’s not properly disposed of, it’s still going to have less of an environmental impact than plastic.
What Are The Downsides of Silicone?
So silicone is greener than plastic. But that said, it’s not exactly the greenest of materials:
- Though no crude oil is necessary to make silicone, its manufacture still relies on non-renewable hydrocarbons derived from oil and natural gas. It’s for this reason that silicone is not biodegradable.
- Not all silicone products are made in the same way. If a silicone product doesn’t advertise itself as being “sustainable”, “green”, or “eco-friendly”, then it’s likely been made in a way that’s so resource-intensive that you might as well have bought plastic.
- Cheap silicone products can contain certain chemicals which can act as a health hazard if they leak. So when buying silicone products, never buy cheap. To avoid toxins, look for “medical grade” or “food grade” items.
- You can recycle silicone, but it’s not easy. You’ll have to use a dedicated recycling service.
What Other Environmentally Friendly Products Should I Look For?
So to sum up, silicone is greener than plastic, but you should still take care. Low quality silicone products can be harmful to you, your family, and the planet. So look for the highest quality products possible. And if you’re still unsure, look for alternatives made from other, more reliably green materials:
- Sustainable wood.
- Stainless steel.
- Natural rubber.
Looking for Eco Friendly Baby Products?
We can help you make more sustainable choices in the products you buy for you and your baby.
First, take a look at our guide to eco-friendly toys for babies, toddlers, and young children.
Next, take a look at our guide to reusable nappies, which explains how they can help you drastically cut down on the amount of waste you send to landfills.
Finally, browse our range of cleaner, greener, comfier and funkier baby products. We specialise in sustainable reusable cloth nappies and a range of eco-friendly baby bath time products, including some lovely rainbow bamboo toothbrushes for all ages!