A versatile and viable alternative

A Dutch study published in the Environment International Journal on 24 March examined blood samples from 22 anonymous, healthy volunteers. The study found microplastics in nearly 80% of them.

Half of the blood samples showed traces of PET plastic, widely used to make plastic bottles, while more than a third had polystyrene, used for disposable food containers and many other products. 

The study said the microplastics could have entered the body by many routes: via air, water or food or through products such as toothpastes, lip glosses and tattoo ink. 

This is just one study. Below points address the severity of this problem:

  1. 50% of plastic is never reused or recycled. It takes up to 200-1000 years for plastic to biodegrade depending on its type. 

  2. Over 1 million plastic bags are used every minute in the world.

3. Creating plastic requires fossil fuels (oil), which increases our planet’s carbon emissions. 

4. Over 17 billion pounds (8 billion kilograms) of plastic end up in the ocean every year.

These are just some of the reasons why using plastic is having a detrimental impact on our lives and the environment and why we need to reduce our use of plastic. Year after year these problems only get worse when not properly addressing the issue of replacing plastic with a more eco-friendly, sustainable solution.

So the question arises – do we have an alternative to these ‘micro’ contaminants? Do we have something we can look for as a substitute?

That’s where BAMBOO comes in.

Bamboos have been an indispensable part of our lives since ancient times. In hilly areas which are more prone to landslides or earthquakes, houses made of bamboo were used until concrete took the leading spot. Ancient irrigation systems relied on use of bamboo for making pipes. Food for animals and livestock were dependent on  it. Musical instruments and carved artwork find their roots submerged in the everlasting use of bamboo. Even today cutting boards, furniture and other kitchenware exploit the durability of bamboo.                                            

The lightweight, yet sturdy material, found its purpose in countless applications over time. The history of bamboo and its range of uses paved the way to developing the plant as a building material toady. There is more to count but let us be back to the topic…

Benefits of Bamboo

Once you know some of the benefits of bamboo, you’ll understand its usage throughout history and today. As a building material bamboo is incredibly sustainable. Young members of the tall species can grow about three feet high in a day and can regrow if cut down the branch. Among other advantages of the material are as follows: 

  1. Flexibility: We all have seen an ongoing construction building stands on plethora of bamboos. Because of its pliability, it is used in hilly areas and mountainous regions to withstand earthquakes.

  1. Durability: Also known as green steel, its compressive strength is two times higher than concrete. It’s less prone to warping than wood is, making it an excellent choice for humid climates especially in regions of Orrisa, southern Assam, the Western Ghats, etc. In fact many scientists and survivors are of the opinion that when Hiroshima was hit with the atom bomb, bamboo was one of those few re-sprouted plants withstanding adverse climate change.

  1. Self-sufficiency: Bamboo is a low maintenance, self-sufficient grass that can get rid of pests and insects on its alone. It demands less water and no fertilizers or chemicals.

  1. Efficient and sustainable energy: The plant even has advantages in uses outside of construction. Bamboo produces the same amount of energy as traditional coal, but it does so more efficiently. Bamboo creates much less ash than coal, which makes it easier to dispose of once burned. Charcoal from bamboo also emits no sulphur, which regular coal does emit. Overall, bamboo has more pros than traditional coal, from harvesting methods to how it burns.

  1. More oxygen: Bamboo is a crucial element in the balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. A grove of bamboo release 35% more oxygen than an equivalent stand of trees. Because of this, planting bamboo is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint and help fight global warming. Don’t you think this reason is alone sufficient to harvest and harness bamboos?

  1. Environmental gains: Bamboo is a viable replacement for wood. It can be harvested in 3-5 years versus 10-20 for most softwoods. It is a great soil conservation tool. It greatly reduces erosion with a sum of stem flow rate and canopy intercept of 25%. This dramatically reduces rain run-off, preventing massive soil erosion and making it very earth friendly. Bamboo can also tolerate extreme conditions that most plants cannot. It was actually the first plant to re-green after the atomic blast in Hiroshima in 1945.

Uses of Bamboo

Bamboo is environmentally friendly, biodegradable, naturally anti-bacterial, and highly renewable, which are all great features for an eco-friendly packaging. It has been shown that it can reduce water use by up to 96%. The fact that bamboo can grow up to three feet per day and can be harvested every three to five years means that there is an abundant supply of bamboo in the years to come. Even if bamboo trees are harvested, it will not cause deforestation. In fact, planting bamboo may even help with reforestation efforts.

Using bamboo products will not only heal the planet but will also reduce our dependency on fossil fuels, plastics, chemicals, minerals extracted through mining. It will minimize the carbon footprint and will help in realizing our climate change goals. Besides, it will also offer employment opportunities to farmers and low-skilled workers. 

The reason highlighting all of these products is important is that one of the burgeoning problems today is single-use and microplastic waste. Of the total plastic produced in the world, 79 per cent end up in landfills or is scattered around. So shifting to eco-friendly alternatives becomes crucial.

Switching to bamboo products is one of the easiest eco-friendly decisions you can make.  

 Here are some bamboo-based utility products whose usage can be a basic step towards a sustainable lifestyle:

  1. Bamboo comb

  2. Toothbrush

  3. Bottle

  4. Soap case

  5. Straw

  6. Paper and boxes 

  7. Disposables and cutlery

  8. Tissue paper

  9. Toilet roll

  1. Compostable garbage bags

  2. Reusable Towels

  3. Parchment paper for baking

  4. Toothpicks

  5. Cotton buds

  6. Wet wipes

Bamboo is also used in; making fibre products such as Rugs, Textiles, Clothes and Bed-linen; decorating interiors of houses and buildings; sculpting and making artworks and the list goes on…

Even if we can’t replace everything made of plastic with bamboo, we can at least replace what we can as well as reduce our plastic usage. We use so much plastic on a day-to-day basis that there must be some areas in our lives where we can reduce our plastic consumption. 

Bamboo as an alternative to plastic is a viable solution in many use-cases. The fact that plastic usage is one of the major contributors to pollution on the plant is a very good reason to find an eco-friendly, renewable alternative, and I’m so thankful that bamboo has come around. The qualities bamboo has can really help our planet and hopefully, one day, it will become more common in our retail world. 

Written by: Rajeev Mishra


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