For some time now I see more and more bamboo furniture and decoration as part of the interior. Natural materials are generally just a very big interior trend. Whether with friends in the living room or in the hip restaurant in Schwabing, bamboo is increasingly replacing furnishings such as plastic chairs or glass lamps. But not only in interior design, but also for everyday products and especially as a substitute for plastic and as a more sustainable alternative.
The bamboo trend has arrived in all over the world, and I’m convinced he’s here to stay. But what is bamboo actually, where does it come from, and how sustainable is it really?
A sustainable resource
Bamboo is a grass that grows in tropical areas and is grown mainly in Asia, South America, and the southern United States.
China is considered the largest producer and exporter of bamboo. The Chinese already used the raw material during the Shang dynasty for means of transport, musical instruments, and weapons
The big advantage of bamboo is that it grows incredibly fast – some varieties grow up to a meter in 24 hours. This bamboo is incredibly productive despite relatively small acreage. For fast growth, bamboo needs only rainwater and no artificial irrigation.
There are several different bamboo varieties. They differ mainly in the color and in the width of the stalks. In tropical or subtropical areas, the stalks can grow up to 40 cm in diameter.
And as if that were not sustainable enough, bamboo produces up to 35% more oxygen than usual trees. Thereby he contributes a lot to the compensation of the carbon dioxide emission.
In summary, it means that bamboo consumes less area and water, is very stable and easy to work with and is climate friendly to carbon dioxide. This makes bamboo a super raw material like no other.
If bamboo poles are shipped unprocessed, they must, however, be treated with chemical substances to kill bacteria and germs due to customs and import regulations.
However, even taking into account this factor and the transport of China, the above advantages outweigh, especially compared to plastic and the resulting enormous environmental pollution.
Is bamboo the solution?
Nevertheless, I believe that the earth cannot be saved by bamboo alone. Bamboo is and will remain a great and sustainable alternative to plastic products such as plastic toothbrushes. However, I am convinced that more, innovative and sustainable materials will be launched in the coming years. In the end, our purchasing decisions count as we contribute to the preservation of our environment with each one of us.
In the following we took a closer look at three bamboo products:
- coffee mug
Straws made of bamboo
Especially straws are becoming more and more popular with hotels that are located on the water – if one of them lands in the sea, that is a lot less harmful than the plastic straw. What does it in the stomach of marine animals or stuck in sea turtles has in the past shown us the frightening images that are rampant through all social media platforms. Nice that there are also many positive examples of rethinking, such as the island of Cempedak.It is a prime example of the use of bamboo straws, as well as a total plastic-free, and very bamboo-focused, hotel operation. Since bamboo is native to this area, it can also be processed directly locally.
Toothbrushes made of bamboo
In Germany, there is a garbage mountain of over 160 million toothbrushes a year. Extrapolated to the global consumption of the garbage mountain of plastic toothbrushes increases to sheer unimaginable size. As plastic and residual waste are burned in many countries, it also contributes to CO2 emissions. You can break this cycle by replacing your plastic toothbrush with one made of bamboo.
The company Hydrophil produces its products completely water-neutral by using natural resource bamboo, which grows without artificial irrigation. In addition, the products are made exclusively with certified natural colors, without mineral oils or other chemical additives.
Coffee mug made of bamboo – How harmful is it?
A contribution in WDR has launched a discussion on the use of bamboo cups especially. This article states that up to 60% melamine resin is contained in bamboo cups.
With hot drinks and through the dishwasher melamine can be released. Since melamine resin is basically harmful, there is a limit that products should not exceed in the test. However, all cups tested by the WDR have not exceeded the limit. Nevertheless, and that’s the crux of the matter, not all cups have clearly stated that they contain melamine resin. And honestly – even if? Who of you would have known right away that it is harmful and why and why? I am sure I am not the only one who tries to give the manufacturers a basic trust.
Currently, the problem is that the alternative to melamine would be animal adhesives, and that does not seem like a sustainable alternative at first glance. And whether that would not harm the health in the long term, would have to be examined first.
That is, look at the materials the cup has. If it is unclear or spongy, then do not access it. And if you have questions, contact the manufacturer directly. That’s how I did it with Bamboo Hearts, who also has a bamboo cup in their assortment. This consists of 55% bamboo fibers, 25% melamine and 20% corn starch.
My favorite mug is and remains the porcelain mug with silicone lid. This is not practical at all and one of them is already shattered on the street, but I just have the best feeling when drinking and it feels like a real cup. Unfortunately, I will not reach for my old bamboo cup anymore, because unfortunately, I do not know who the manufacturer is and where I bought it years ago. I will use it as a flowerpot from now on.
Or just do as you used to – take your time and enjoy the coffee in the café. Of all options, this is certainly the very best.