Bizarre Biodegradables: 12 Gowns, Cars, Caskets & More


As waste piles up around the world, there’s a real need for products that won’t just sit in landfills indefinitely and leach toxic chemicals once they’re no longer wanted. But the latest in biodegradable products & concepts goes far beyond compostable cups with amazing, unexpected and sometimes completely bizarre solutions that break down in soil, melt in water, grow gardens and even feed fish.

Toilet Teacup for Trains


(image via: treehugger)

Many non-Westerners see toilet paper as a ridiculous waste, preferring to wash themselves with water instead. But on India’s packed and convenience-challenged trains, finding a container to hold the water can be a problem in itself. Enter the ‘Disposable Mug’, which is most certainly not for drinking. This foldable, biodegradable cup which disintegrates about an hour after use could be sold by vendors as a sanitation aid, but may not be any more eco-friendly than our favored TP.

Building Blocks That Melt in Your Mouth


(image via: crunchgear)

If you’ve ever had an unexplainable urge to eat building blocks, perhaps you’d better get that checked out. But if you just can’t repress it, you’re in luck – Enviro-BLOX are 100% biodegradable and (technically) edible. Made from corn starch, the blocks stick together when moistened and disappear altogether when placed in water. Just don’t expect them to taste very good.

Disappearing Chewing Gum


(image via: karen.tkr)

We’ve all stepped in it, accidentally touched it on a subway handrail and seen it stuck under tables. Chewing gum is incredibly messy stuff, and many cities spend hundreds of thousands of dollars cleaning it up every year. But the world’s first biodegradable gum may change all that. Organic, plant-based Chicza crumbles into dust after about six weeks and comes in lime, mint and spearmint flavors.

Guerrilla Gardening Gnome Balloons


(image via: inhabitat)

These gnomes are on a mission: infiltrate sad, greenery-free communities and add some color and cheer. They die in the process – deflating and falling to the ground by the end of the day – but then they biodegrade and release seeds into the earth, like cute and happy seed bombs. It’s the kind of guerrilla gardening that’s not only insanely easy, but bound to make people smile.

Green Graduation Gowns


(image via: jostens)

College students are supposed to represent the hope of the future, so perhaps it only makes sense that they start their post-school years by graduating in green gowns. Manufacturers like Jostens are now offering gowns that are guaranteed to break down quickly in soil, replacing the current petroleum-based gowns that end up in landfills. But while compostable gowns sounds great, there certainly are an awful lot of those polyester gowns floating around that could be reused for years to come.

Crafty Low-Waste Computer


(image via: about my planet)

Electronic waste is a huge environmental problem, introducing toxic chemicals into the third-world communities in which it’s dumped. But imagine what it would be like to have modular biodegradable computers with each part easy to replace as necessary and almost fully biodegradable. The ‘iameco’ computer, created in Ireland, contain no heavy metals or PVC and have wood housing that will break down in soil within three years.

Cardboard Caskets


(images via: natural burial company,

Burial in a cardboard box may seem like an affront to the deceased, but if you think about it, how much sense does it make to preserve a decaying body in an everlasting impermeable coffin? Biodegradable caskets – made from things like cardboard, willow, bamboo and banana leaf – could be the end to this wasteful practice.

Impermanent Umbrella


(image via: inhabitat)

It seems like no matter how much you spend on an umbrella, eventually it’s going to break and end up in a trash bin, leaving you all wet. The Brelli is the world’s first biodegradable umbrella – and while that may sound like a strange concept that leaves you vulnerable to a good soaking as the umbrella melts in the rain, it actually holds up to use in water. The umbrella, made from bamboo and a bioplastic canopy, takes 18 to 24 months to break down once it has reached the end of its life.

Wacky Melting Wedding Dress

(image via: recycled bride)

One college student at the Sheffield Hallam University in England came up with a novel solution to the problem of throwaway wedding gowns: making them not just biodegradable, but dissolvable in water. Just be sure you don’t get caught in the rain without an umbrella (preferably a non-biodegradable umbrella) in this strange polyvinyl alcohol creation.

Biodegradable & Recyclable Car


(image via: top speed)

If you buried the Eco One car, after a few years, the only thing left would be the recyclable metal chassis. The outer shell is made from hemp, the tires are made out of potatoes and the brakes are made from natural fibers. But perhaps the best thing about this incredibly eco biodegradable vehicle is that it’s much faster than you’d expect – it can go from 0-60mph in under four seconds.

Fish Food Golf Balls


Golf balls take up to 1,000 years to decompose naturally, and golfers hit no small amount of these heavy-metal-laden balls into the water where they can poison fish and other creatures. EcoBioBall, the green alternative, doesn’t just break down in the water within 48 hours – at its core is a dense inner ball of fish food. Unfortunately, these single-use balls are lighter than conventional golf balls so they’re not great for everyday play, but they would be ideal for driving practice over water.

Tobacco-Based Solar Cells


(image via: iamthepinkcupcake)

All of the tobacco farmers who have struggled with the backlash against cigarettes may soon have a much more planet- and people-healthy reason to grow this plant: biodegradable solar cells. Scientists have found a way to genetically engineer tobacco plants using what’s called tobacco mosaic virus, which incites the plant to create structures that turn light into high-powered electrons. After processing, the resulting solar cells could act as a cheap, transportable and temporary renewable power source.