Sustainable

Is Silicone Environmentally friendly

We all use silicone in some form. Whether it is in our computers, your babies’ pacifiers, food packaging, yoga mats, perhaps even our breasts. This then poses the question of how our actions are impacting our environment. As we seek to build a zero waste world, are we helping? Is silicone environmentally friendly? We tackle this question in detail in this post.

A baby dummy made of silicone

How kind is Silicone on the environment?

Silicone is environmentally friendly. This is the common message about silicone especially when it is compared with plastic. If you are looking for a highly durable material, that is friendly to aquatic life and also to the environment, then silicone is one of your best bets as far as synthetic material is concerned. When silicone comes in contact with ultraviolet, light, microwave heater any other forms of heat, it does not release harmful toxins like plastic. 

This means that it is very safe to use around heat and it spares the environment in the same breath. Using silicone over plastic and other synthetic materials is an environmentally friendly step. It can be recycled, just like plastic. But this has to be done by specialized centers. Silicone can be downcycled to an oil that can be used as an industrial lubricant. This is only when it is done properly. Silicone has often been cited as an alternative for plastic. 

Does the quality of silicone matter?

Yes! Immensely. Silicone is a great synthetic material but at the same time, it is important to make sure that you get good quality silicone. This way you know that you are getting all the qualities that you need. For instance, cheap knock off silicone products will react to heat badly.

cupcake packing made of silicone

They will not have the same safe outcome that comes about from using genuine quality silicone. You can know the quality of the silicone product you want to buy by reading the label. Products labeled safe for handling chemicals or food are good indicators that they are made of good quality silicone. 

Silicon and silicone, what is the difference?

Silicone is largely considered a part of the rubber family. In some ways, it is also considered as a hybrid between a synthetic plastic polymer and a synthetic rubber. It moves a lot like rubber but also has the same properties as plastic. Silicone is not to be confused with silicon. It may seem like it is just a difference in spelling but it is way more than that. Silicon is a chemical element, silicones are compounds that contain silicon. 

They two, have very different physical and chemical properties. Silicones have low thermal conductivity, low chemical reactivity and they do not support microbiological growth. They also can repel water and form watertight seals. Silicones are used in various products which include tooth impression products, electrical components, and cookware. Silicon, on the other hand, is an element with atomic number 14. It is the 8th most common element in the universe.

Is silicone not the same thing as plastic?

This is a very common misconception. Plastic and silicone look very much alike and even have similar characteristics. Who has the time to be reading labels right? You do! A glance at the label of a product can tell you a lot that you need to know about it, how to handle it and subsequently how you need to dispose of it. Plastic and silicone are however different.  Plastics break down into dangerous microplastics whereas silicone does not. 

Silicone Kitchen mats

The way the two materials are made makes them different, and as such makes them react differently. Plastic is not safe for oceans but silicone is, it is also not safe to heat food in plastic containers, but it is safe to use silicone. Silicone products can withstand heat and cold much better than plastic. Even though they may seem like they are the same thing, plastic and silicone are very different in how they are made.

Why should I care about the environment?

Every passing day that we see, is a gift and the planet we live on is the only home that we have. Fighting for the well being of the planet is not something we have much of a choice in. It is a necessary defence we need to have for the one place we all call home. Recycling and living a green life is a decision we need to make every day, with our choices. 

It may sound like a far fetched, tree-hugging idea that has nothing to do with your everyday life. But on the contrary, think about it this way, the more you partake in actions that harm the earth, it is like taking a brick out of your home. It may seem insignificant when you do it, but at the end of the day, when you have a pile of rubble, you will realize how important that one brick was. 

It may sound dramatic, but it is something we all should be thinking seriously about. Thinking about how the environment is doing and what you can do for the environment, should be part of our daily goals. It takes a few deliberate steps to mount up to a huge leap. A healthy and clean environment contributes to your good health. 

Contaminants and pollutants in the air, can cause complications in our health and give rise to problems we have no idea how to fix. Prevention is always better than cure. Even though a lot of damage has been done to destroy the environment, a lot can still be done to rectify it.

Can I cook with silicone products?

Have you ever tried cooking with a cheap plastic utensil, that simply did not do the job? Maybe it melted as soon as it got a little hot? The great thing about silicone products is that they are made to withstand heat. They will not warp or melt or disfigure and best of all, silicone products will not release harmful toxins when they come in contact with a heat source.

However, there are some guidelines that you need to follow for safe cooking and baking with silicone products. Keep the oven heat below 300 degrees and if the product smells bad, don uses it. If the products have bright colors, then make sure that there is no BPA present in the utensil. A great use for silicone products is for food storage because it does not have any harmful chemicals that could contaminate your food such as BPA.

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