What are the benefits of using bamboo products?
It’s becoming increasingly more apparent that we need to take care of our beloved blue planet, but changing up our whole routine and reconsidering every product that we reach for can be daunting, can’t it? Well, what if we were to tell you that with just one single material and a few simple swaps, you could be well on your way to a greener lifestyle, from morning to evening? No, it’s not too good to be true – it’s bamboo!
The issue with single-use plastics and other non-recyclable materials is that, though they might be cheap and easy to get our hands on, they are often made in unsustainable ways and can take centuries to decompose. This, in turn, is what leads to deforestation and creates a deadly environment for our marine life. That’s where bamboo comes in, in all its heroic glory. With a renewable growth rate of up to one metre per day, the ability to be harvested by hand instead of with heavy machinery, and natural antibacterial properties which eliminate the need for pesticides, bamboo really is the gift that keeps on giving.
Although it grows in forests, bamboo is actually considered to be a species of grass, and is much more beneficial for our environment than regular woodland. An area of bamboo forest can produce up to 35% more oxygen than an equivalent area of hardwood trees, so we can reap the benefits of its properties both as a plant, and as a material. This miracle plant is also recognised for being extremely versatile, because although its solid texture is ideal for construction, it can be ground down and used to make ultra-soft fabrics, so it really can produce everything from bamboo furniture to comfy pyjamas!
Fancy learning how you can help save the earth without it costing the earth? We’ve rounded up a day-to-night routine to show how you can use bamboo products for a more sustainable lifestyle.
How you can incorporate bamboo products into your morning routine…
Cutting down on our single-use plastics is easy when it comes to products that we can live without (a gin and tonic tastes the same with or without a straw), but what about the parts of our routine that we can’t simply eliminate, like brushing our teeth? A plastic toothbrush might do the job, but when it starts to look a little tired and we toss it out for a new one. But did you know it can take up to 1000 years for a plastic toothbrush to decompose? When you consider there are over 3 billion plastic toothbrushes used every year worldwide, the numbers soon start to stack up. Switch to a bamboo toothbrush however, and you can benefit from gentle BPA-free bristles that stay fresher for longer and won’t shed, a non-slip grip, and a bamboo handle which can decompose in just 4-6 months when properly composted. So what are you waiting for? Stay green while you clean!
You can also incorporate bamboo into your post-morning shower routine. Stepping out of a refreshing shower and drying off with a rough, scratchy towel is never a good way to start the day. Not to mention the environmental impact of your standard cotton towel. Cotton is a catalyst for soil erosion, so once one area of land becomes exhausted by cotton harvesting, a new area of land is taken over and the pattern continues. Harmful pesticides are also needed to destroy toxins before the product can be used. Bamboo, however, is not only extremely renewable, meaning that it won’t continuously wipe out areas of land, but it’s also naturally antibacterial, which eliminates the need for pesticides and chemicals.
The process of making fabric from bamboo involves chopping up the matured plant and soaking it in an organic solution which breaks down the fibres. A pulp is then extracted from the bamboo chips and dried into sheets, which are ground and spun into soft, fluffy fibres, resulting in a fabric twice as soft as cotton. So not only are bamboo towels better for the planet, but they’re much softer and more luxurious in feel, too. It’s a win-win! Of course, towels aren’t the only fabric product that can be produced from bamboo; clothing items such as t-shirts, dresses, underwear and socks are all available in bamboo fibres, so you can enjoy the cosy softness all day long.
Using bamboo takeaway coffee cups on the go!
Being on the go is often when our most unsustainable habits form, because when we’re hurrying between trains or late for a meeting, it’s all too convenient to grab the cheapest and most accessible item – regardless of how it’s made. Coffee cups are a prime example of this. We all like a coffee kick in the morning, but how many times do you grab your cappuccino in a paper cup, or your iced latté in a plastic cup? Bamboo coffee cups come in a range of styles, and they’re easy to fill at home or slip into your bag and take to your usual coffee shop. They’re even dishwasher safe in most cases, making light work of the clean-up after a long day at work. Now you can reduce your daily impact on the environment without sacrificing your caffeine fix!
If coffee isn’t your grind, then maybe a plastic water bottle is your culprit. While hitting the vending machine or thoughtlessly asking for a bottle of water with your blueberry muffin might work when you’re in a pinch, it’s always worth planning ahead. There are a variety of bamboo water bottles on the market, often made from zero-waste materials with a unique, earthy design. Not only is a refillable bamboo bottle a good start to saving the planet, but it’s a good way to save some cash on all of those single-use water bottles, too!
Of course, let’s not forget arguably the most important part of any commute or work day – lunch. Whether you’re packing your sandwiches wrapped in cling film, tucked into tupperware or you’re grabbing a take-away salad from the local cafe, there are probably a few ways that you could be more eco-friendly with your plans. Try swapping your plastic tupperware for some sleek bamboo storage containers – they’re modern, sturdy, biodegradable and keep food extra fresh. You can even get the little ones on board by sending them off to school with their very own bamboo lunch box!
More of a lunch-buyer than a lunch-bringer? Consider the packaging that your food comes in. Do you end up grabbing one of those flimsy, plastic sporks to eat your pasta with? While it’s a little difficult to plan ahead what you might buy for lunch, bamboo cutlery might just be your new best friend. It’s much more lightweight to carry than metal cutlery, so it’s easy to throw in your bag, and it’s sealed with a natural, food-safe finish.
Cooking tips – can you eat bamboo?
We’ve established that bamboo boasts a range of environmental benefits, but it’s actually proven to be beneficial for our bodies, too. Animals such as pandas and lemurs are known to feast on bamboo, and they have the right idea! Bamboo has been an important part of Asian cuisine for centuries, and is often used as a health food due to its high sources of protein, amino acids, fibre, potassium, vitamins and important minerals. Fresh bamboo shoots should always be boiled or blanched before use, but they can then be used to create a number of dishes. You can try them pickled, chopped into salads or noodle dishes for added crunch, braised in soy sauce, or deep fried for a tempura style. Don’t be afraid to get experimental!
If you fancy making your meal extra special, then why not set the table with some bamboo dinnerware? Don’t be fooled into thinking that the natural bamboo colour is the only design available, either (though we do love the rustic look) – there are a whole range of colours, patterns and styles of plates, bowls and cups to explore. You can even buy kids’ bamboo plates and bowls in fun designs, and they’re much more practical than heavy crockery. Plus, the fact that bamboo tableware is so lightweight makes it particularly handy for picnics!
Popular bamboo products to use in your own home!
When it comes to lounging in your own space, there are plenty of ways that you can add a touch of bamboo to your home. Thanks to its steely strength, it can be used to make a variety of furniture, from desks and cabinets to chairs and TV units, so whether you’re working from home or kicking back and relaxing, bamboo is the perfect way to add a rustic and eco-friendly element to your decor.
Earlier we mentioned the many benefits that bamboo can have on the body when used in cooking, but you can also reap a range of benefits from drinking bamboo, too. No, we’re not talking about one of those juice cleanses – we’re talking about bamboo leaf tea. What better way to unwind after a long day than with a cup of tea? You can buy premade bamboo leaf tea bags or loose leaf tea, or simply make your own by steeping dried bamboo leaves in hot water with a dash of honey. This herbal tea is loaded with antioxidants and is said to improve hair and nail growth, maintain healthy skin and aid digestion.
And how might you end your bamboo-filled day, you ask? By crawling into your fluffy bamboo sheets, of course! Climbing into a warm bed after a tiring day is one of the best feelings, but climbing into clean, extra soft sheets? That’s something else. We outlined earlier how bamboo can be spun into fibres and used to create a number of material products, and bedsheets are no exception. Besides being more environmentally friendly, bamboo fabric is also much more breathable and resistant to moisture, so instead of waking up in a sweat in the middle of the night, you can sleep soundly the whole way through, while the bamboo sheets keep you cool but cosy. It might just be the best night’s sleep you have!
Feeling bamboozled yet? Leading a more eco-friendly life starts with making more conscious choices in our homes and everyday lives, and thanks to the miracle plant that is bamboo – it’s not so hard to do after all!