Is Silicone Environmentally Friendly?
In the present time, consumers are aspiring to make better choices for the sake of the environment. Hence, more people are now putting a lot of thought into the products and materials they use for their daily needs. In many areas, governments frown upon using products made of plastic due to the harm they bring to the environment.
This is where silicone comes in. Nowadays, silicone has been one of the top alternatives we use aside from paper when we need to use plastic. Many environmentalists see it as a much better option to use due to its durability. However, is it really as environmentally friendly as it seems? Or does silicone bring the same harm to the Earth as plastic?
What is silicone? Where does it come from?
Before knowing the pros of using silicone as a material for our day-to-day needs, we need to understand where they come from.
An entirely different thing to the chemical element Silicon, silicones are a category of polymers. They are synthetic inorganic materials that can also be mixed with other chemicals to fit their purpose. Often, other organic materials and elements such as carbon and hydrogen are combined with silicone to increase their flexibility or heat resistance.
Is silicone better for the environment than plastic?
To preserve our nature’s gifts and resources, one of the ways to help is by making better choices with the products we use every day.
We see plastic everywhere as they are a way to transport groceries and is a material that is necessary to make plenty of goods and merchandise. Unfortunately, plastic is not a good thing for our environment. As a result, many experts seek better alternatives, and silicone is its top contender.
To answer the question of whether silicone is an environmentally friendly choice, yes, it is mostly the case. In fact, environmental professionals highly recommend using silicones instead of other products. As a result, many manufacturers are giving their best efforts to minimize the use of plastic by using silicone whenever possible.
Why silicone is the better choice
Just like plastic, silicone is a material that is crucial for many purposes and industries. Although there are also pros and cons in using them, they are still kinder to the environment than plastic, which is one of the leading causes of pollution in the world.
Here are the reasons why using silicone products makes you an ally of the environment:
Silicone does not contain harmful chemicals
Although silicone products may contain some chemicals that can harm the environment, it is safe to say that the amount it does have will not affect our surroundings high enough for it to be a point of concern.
Silicone is mostly made up of silica, which is an earth element found in sand. Depending on the purpose of the product, some materials may contain other chemicals to take up malleability and durability concerns.
Silicone is flexible
The main reason why it is possible to have an alternative to plastic is that silicone can do almost everything it does. There are almost no bounds in how useful silicone is, as it can be useful for making paints, kitchenware, electronic parts, and more.
Did you know? Aside from the aviation, construction, and architecture industry, it is also possible to use silicone for personal care products.
Silicone is durable and long-lasting
Due to the reason that silicone products last more than plastic ones, they are reliable and certainly worth paying for. Although it is likely that plastic products are cheaper, they also tend to break more.
Compared to plastic, silicone can last for many years, which is also why experts see it as a good alternative to many materials.
Silicone is reusable and recyclable
Plastic is useable for many purposes and needs. However, the harm it brings to the Earth is certainly not worth the bargain. When comparing the two, silicone is usually reusable for a longer time.
Is it possible to recycle silicone? Although it is not easy, the material is recyclable. Some special recycling services offer silicone repurposing, although this service may not be available in many countries.
One of the best things about silicone is that if you dispose of them in landfills, they will not damage the environment. Compared to plastic, silicone is absolutely marine-friendly and will not contaminate our surroundings with harmful chemicals.
Silicone can withstand high temperatures
Silicone rubbers have a high tolerance to extreme temperatures. In fact, they can supposedly take in around 300 degrees Celsius without any deformations as a result.
This is one of the reasons why silicone is flexible and crucial in many industries – only a few materials are known to be inexpensive but resilient like it.
Is silicone biodegradable?
Using silicone comes with many benefits. Unfortunately, being a biodegradable material is not one of them. However, silicone will still be an environmentally friendly option compared to most materials used for our daily living.
As long as we use silicone products wisely and are not using them just for one-time use, it will definitely go a long way. Also, it is important to know that since silicone does not degrade easily, it will be less harmful to our oceans and waters by a huge margin.
Is silicone safe to use?
When compared to other materials, many government and private agencies have confirmed silicone’s reliability and deems it safe to use. Even the FDA of Food and Drug Administration in the United States approves it to be used with food and cosmetics.
Reasons why silicone is reliable and trusted:
1. It does not contain BPA and BPS
Known as the chemicals that are commonly found in plastic products, BPA and BPS are harmful to people, animals, and the environment. As a result of many studies and research, it is proven that BPA can even disrupt the hormones in our bodies.
This is exactly why some companies that use these chemicals for the packaging of their water and canned products are changing and switching to using BPA AND BPS-free materials instead. Since there are still a lot of controversies as to how BPA-free plastics can still cause harm, using silicone is a much better option whenever possible. Of course, only food-grade silicones are usually BPA, BPS, and phthalates-free.
2. It does not promote microbial growth
If you are wondering why silicone is highly promoted when it comes to cookware, it is because it is resistant to bacteria and does not promote its growth. Due to this characteristic, silicone kitchenware is easy to clean and sterilize.
Knowing that the tools you use in your kitchen are safe, you will not have to worry about your family and safety compared to using plastic that is known to foster bacteria and may even trigger allergic reactions.
Some sources may say that silicone can be the cause of allergies, but it is commonly known to be non-toxic for most humans at the present.
3. It resists high temperature and UV light
As mentioned earlier, silicone rubbers can withstand exposure to heat. Even if exposed to 300 degrees Celsius, your silicone will not generally bend or lose its shape. Of course, if exposed to higher degrees of heat, silicone will also melt. Make sure to only expose them to the recommended heat if you are sanitizing your tools or kitchenware.
What about UV light? Amazingly, many silicone products are also UV stable and will not degrade when exposed for long periods of time.
4. It is safe for both humans and animals
Since silicone does not break down the same way plastics do, it does not turn into “microplastics” that harm our environment and even gets into our food.
For example, when plastic materials disintegrate, these sediments make their way into the soil and into our bodies of water. Aside from making things more convenient for us when used in construction, kitchenware, cosmetic products, and more, knowing that we are not harming the Earth and hurting animals when doing so makes a big difference.
What about humans? There is no need to worry, as the material included in silicone is generally safe. As long as the silicone used is food-grade, it will be safe for you and your family to use for preparing food, such as spatulas and mittens.
The uses of silicone
Silicone is popular for a reason. It can be used in many industries and is flexible and durable enough for long-term use.
The material is best for the following purposes:
Most often used in bakeware, you will never go wrong with replacing your plasticware with silicone ones. Aside from being anti-bacterial and resistant to heat, they are able to last longer and will not usually retain smells.
If you are planning to buy kitchenware, make sure to get ones that use food grade silicone instead of plastic. Although the price may be more expensive, we can guarantee that they are worth the investment. After all, you will use them to handle your food.
When it comes to electronics, silicone is mainly for sealing and coating parts for their protection and longevity. Since silicone is resistant to heat, it can help power gadgets and other appliances while resisting corrosion and other problems.
The material is also useful for aviation and transportation companies as it can help withstand extreme temperatures and stress.
Mainly as sealants, coats, and paints, silicones are also a must-have when it comes to the construction industry. It helps with thermodynamics and other areas which ultimately makes a building more pleasant and comfortable to live in.
Aside from resisting high temperature, silicones are also great with clothes and products as they also help in repelling water. Hence, big sports apparel companies use the material for their clothes, fabrics, and swimming gear.
Cosmetics and personal care
When it comes to cosmetics, many lotions, creams, lipsticks, and foundations contain silicone. Depending on your skin’s sensitivity, some may have reactions to the ingredients, however, they can make the skin smoother and more supple.
Aside from cosmetics, one of the best products made of silicone is a menstrual cup. Instead of using hundreds of pads, silicone cups are reusable, cost-effective, and environmentally friendly.
Silicone can help save the Earth in many ways
If we want to keep the Earth clean and safe to preserve it, some sacrifices are necessary. Switching from plastic products to silicone ones can be a small step that will make a huge difference in the long run. For example, using silicone materials instead of plasticware not only saves your money, but also keeps our environment free from accumulating too much waste.
When it comes to our choices, alternatives to what we are used to can be the way to give back to our surroundings. And that is absolutely the case with silicone.