Shop Talk: Practical answers for tough business questions.

by : 
Kim Perkins
December 1, 2012

Question: I read your column about the clear bags with sticky strips that scarves are packaged in and want to offer this info: Like you, I receive scarves and other clothing articles in those same bags. Unless you get your clothing from a different source than I do, I suspect these bags are not plastic, but cellophane. Unlike plastic, cellophane is a natural product (although the process for manufacturing it can hardly be thought of as environmental), and it is 100 percent biodegradable. Yes, you can send it to the landfill without guilt—no need to re-purpose. I hope this helps!

Answer: Special thanks to Pat Taylor for this information and for taking the time to let me know. I definitely feel better!

Note from the Editor: Research now suggests that biodegradable materials such as cellophane bags do not fully decompose in conventional landfills as we previously thought, due to their largely anaerobic environments. Instead, cellophane must be sent to a composting facility, where a controlled mixture of water, oxygen, and microbes can fully break down materials into their organic components. We encourage you to contact your local waste management service and ask if they offer curbside composting. Better yet, tell your vendors to skip the individual packaging altogether – it will save them money and your eco-conscious customers will appreciate your efforts!

Kim Perkins is co-owner of Elysian Fields Books & Gifts for Conscious Living (, an award-winning store in Sarasota, Fla. Send your retail questions to