Is Silly String Biodegradable? 

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Last Updated on May 31, 2022

You might have already encounter silly strings multiple times when you attended a wedding or a party. You might have even played with it when you were younger too. These long colorful plastic-like strands are often used as confetti, decorations, or toys. 

However, in today’s world, where we have to be more conscious about our environment, we ask the question: is silly string biodegradable? 

We are going to answer that question in this article. Continue to read down below to know more. 

The History and Components of Silly Strings

Before we answer the question of whether a silly string is biodegradable or not, let us first have a clearer picture of what it is and what it contains. As mentioned above, silly strings are used as party equipment or as kid’s toys. At some point, the military also used them to detect explosive booby traps and tripwires. 

They were invented in the early 1970s. The first generation that played with this as a toy probably has their kids or grandkids already who they want to experience the same joy that silly strings brought them. However, the silly strings today are different than the ones in the 70s.

They differ in terms of their contents. The 1970s silly strings are made out of polymer resin and a plasticizer. This is what gives it the string-like shape, and the foam is a result of a surfactant. It also contains color pigments, flame retardants, and silicon fluids.


Aside from these, the essential component of the silly string is the aerosol canister spray. This is what’s responsible for propelling the mixture into the air. However, the 1970s version of aerosol canister sprays contains chlorofluorocarbon. 

This component is known to be harmful to the ozone layer. This is why it has been banned. This resulted in manufacturers finding other, more environmentally friendly parts. 

Today, silly strings manufacturers still use aerosol can but not chlorofluorocarbons. Instead, they use a propellant that has a low freezing point and high air pressure. Also, the mixture is now 90% water and 10% other components. 

This change of component significantly changed the quality of silly strings. Many people from the first generation who used it, noted that it has become a lot less string-like and messier. 

Aside from that, there are a few states in the U.S that bans the use of this product. It is prohibited in New Jersey and Massachusetts. In 2004, Los Angeles also banned its use during Halloween. These were mostly because they caused damage to properties and were difficult to clean up. 

Is Silly String Biodegradable? 

No. Unfortunately, silly strings are not biodegradable. Although its formulation has recently changed, it still does not take away the fact that it still uses some amount of plasticizer and resin. These materials will take decades before they decompose on their own. 

Is Silly String Biodegradable?

In terms of the canister, although it does not use chlorofluorocarbons anymore, the can itself is still non-biodegradable. They are made out of steel that can withstand high pressure and a plastic nozzle. These will take hundreds of years before they decompose. Also, improper disposal can cause accidents and injuries. 

Should Silly Strings Still Be Used? 

Knowing the pieces of information listed above already, it can be clearly said silly strings should not be used anymore. Here are the reasons why: 

  • The can is not biodegradable. 
  • The mixture inside the can contains non-biodegradable components also. 
  • They are challenging to clean up.
  • New formulas do not have the string-like features of the 1970 version. 
  • They are illegal in some places. 

Are there Alternatives for Silly Strings? 

Yes, there are plenty of alternatives for silly strings. Here are some of them: 

  • Use Biodegradable Confetti

If you are planning to use silly strings as party supply, better opt for biodegradable confetti poppers. It gives you the same effect, and you are not harming the environment as well. They are also a lot easier to clean up; they can be easily vacuumed. 

Biodegradable confetti is also a lot more affordable than silly strings. If you do not have the budget to buy a confetti popper, you can make it easily at home. You can use old papers. 

You can even use dried leaves from your backyard if you want a unique type of confetti. Check out this video by Mother Natured on how they made confetti out of dried leaves. 

Talk about being resourceful and sustainable at the same time, right? By being more environmentally conscious, you can have a fun, aesthetically pleasing yet ecological party. 

  • Use Paper Decorations

Some people use silly strings as party decoration, especially during Halloween, but you can go for all-paper party decoration and achieve the same results. These are a lot cheaper and more environmental-friendly. 

You can also re-use them for your next parties by merely changing their designs and colors, too, and in terms of cleaning, they are no hassle at all. 

  • Toy alternatives

If you intend to use silly string as to toys for your kids, consider giving them bubbles instead. They will provide the children with the same amount of fun, and they are also much safer for them and the environment. For added fun, you can get them automatic bubble machines. They can simply click it, and many bubbles will automatically fly out. 

Is Silly String Biodegradable?

Final Thoughts

We understand that you grew to play with silly strings, but they are not biodegradable. In fact, they contain harmful chemicals that can affect children and cause the environment to deplete further. Due to this, it is better to opt for alternatives. They are much safer and have the same quality of fun. 

There is no shortage of available alternatives in the market. You can make even make some that fulfill the same purposes of silly strings on your own, which can help you save money as well. Remember, we need to responsible for our environment so that our children can experience the same quality joys of life as we did in the past. 

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