-Illustrations by Charlotte Shen
Everyone who isn’t living under a rock (and if you are, I’m not judging) knows that the world of cheap convenience we created through the development and subsequent consumer addiction to synthetic materials like plastic is, well, simply unsustainable.
With images of floating masses of plastic twice the size of texas slapping us in the face, many of us are in what I’d call a state of toxic shock. What I mean is, and I speak for myself and I’d guess many others, that upon realizing the extent of the damage we’ve collectively done to the planet in less than 100 years, we feel more than just a little ashamed; however (and this is where the “shock” part comes in), repairing what we’ve done seems so daunting, and the penance no doubt required of us so severe, that we feel helpless, immobilized.
I for one have certainly been guilty of the kind of attitude that goes something like: “Well I’m just one person – my use of plastic bags is NOTHING compared to the massive industrial waste polluting the Earth, so until they change, why should I? What’s the difference?”
Of course the fatal flaw in that logic is that it’s so myopic – the truth is that the cumulative effect of billions of individuals (and those making relevant decisions for huge corporations are individuals too) with this attitude has been near-catastrophic. The truth is we ALL need to clean up our act, like yesterday. Kudos to those who’ve been on the forefront of living a more sustainable lifestyle for many years. It’s time for the rest of us, the mainstream, the belly of the bell curve, to get on the train.
One of the ways we can collectively make a difference is by being more conscious in our consumer choices. And one of the most obvious ways to make more sustainable consumer choices is to look for ways to replace ubiquitous plastic with other more eco-friendly materials. Let’s face it, we don’t need the box we store our trinkets in to last 500 years!
One material I’ve been enthralled with lately is truly a miracle of nature, and a gift at that! It’s super versatile, as it can be made into paper, it can replace most types of wood, and it can even be mixed with resin to make plastic-like products! Unless you skipped the title of this article, you already know the eco-friendly magic material I’m speaking of – Bamboo!
I’m personally committing to be more aware of the products I buy and what they’re made of. Wonderfully functional and even esthetically pleasing, bamboo fits the bill of materials to seek out as replacements for plastic. The best thing about bamboo is the way it can contribute to more sustainable lifestyles and a healthier planet. Some general knowledge about bamboo:
- It grows tremendously fast (up to 36 inches in 24 hours!), making it a sensible substitute for paper and lumber for many applications.
- It requires less water than cotton, making it a more sustainable alternative for many fabrics – and as a bonus, it’s softer, lighter and more absorbent too!
- Bamboo can prosper in almost every region with a suitable climate, and doesn’t need the artificial protection of pesticides – so less damage from runoff into water systems.
- The root systems help to bind soil and prevent erosion – a great feature in this era of global warming and fears of expanding desertification.
- Bamboo grows like a weed – literally, and can be cut again and again like grass without killing it. A truly renewable resource!
- It’s biodegradable, naturally! After disposal, bamboo items will decompose in anywhere from a few months to 3 years. Plastic? Try 450-1000 years! A big improvement I’d say!
I want to introduce you to a few examples of the products highlighting the virtues of Bamboo. Check them out and let us know below which ones you’ve tried – or want to!
Elegant, rustic and tasteful, the perfect complement to my organic Merlot! Here are a couple I’m trying to choose from:
These are rapidly gaining popularity not only because they’re eco-friendly, but because they’re actually softer, lighter (no bobblehead syndrome!) and more absorbent than cotton, rivaling even their synthetic competitor, microfiber. Our choice? Well, not much mystery there!
To me it’s a no-brainer to replace those cheap-looking plastic cafeteria serving trays with something not only natural and sustainable, but better-looking too!
Why not replace plastic or even wood with something where you won’t even notice the difference?
Rustic, Elegant and Useful! I’ve already ordered one to get my cluttered pantry in order!
Did you say lazy? You’ve got my attention. Wait, I can be lazy and eco-friendly at the same time? Sold!
Most of these are glass canisters with bamboo lids, but we found a set that is all bamboo, with metal clasps – pretty at that!
I’ve seen these marketed for everything from scrubbing carrots and potatoes, so that we can avoid peeling and preserve the nutritious skin, to all-purpose scrub brushes and pots and pans scrubbers.
This is one I never would have thought of prior to becoming a parent myself, but watching my baby boy scratching away at his face while sleeping is anxiety inducing to say the least! A little pair of mitties was in order, and they really did the trick, preventing his unconscious fidgeting from scratching up his delicate skin. Bamboo fits the bill perfectly here, as we’ve already mentioned it’s even softer, more lightweight and absorbent than cotton.
Bamboo is not the kind of material that comes to mind when shopping for cell phone accessories, but why not? Sure beats plastic!
Say what? Why the heck would you squat like a caveman when you could sit! No Thanks! That was my reaction when I was first introduced to the “squat and go” concept my first time in Asia. I avoided those things like the plague when I encountered them at public restrooms, restaurants etc. However, I’ve since learned a thing or two, and have opened my mind and horizons. It turns out the Asians are onto something, and these things are even trending in North America and Europe! The reason? Well, going back to my “caveman” comment, our bio-mechanical evolution actually favors this position for effortless...expulsion. So people who suffer from frequent constipation and want a more natural, medicine-free way to improve their bowel functions often find the answer in these devices. Hallelujah!
Wait, I almost forgot! There’s one more thing you can do with bamboo – Eat It!
Well, that's just scratching the surface of all of the eco-friendly products being made from beautiful, green and versatile bamboo these days - but we'll stop here for now and give YOU a chance to try some of these products! If you've already tried one or more, tell us which ones you loved (or not so much)!
What's something you think could or should be replaced with a bamboo version?