If you google 'plastic straws', you will find the first page full of articles criticising the use of plastic straws replete with hashtags like #StrawlessSeptember, #StopSucking and more. Plastic straws have caused an outrage on the internet, and for good reason. We don't need straws to consume our drinks and definitely not plastic ones, it's as simple as that. The world is out searching, innovating, creating alternatives to replace the likes of plastic straws. And we may have found the most elegant solution. Enter bamboo.
Bamboo is an eastern grass, so deeply embedded in the local cultures, that it's a paradox it is completely easy to ignore. It is not an overstatement to say that Bamboo is the material that has the potential to save our planet from the demons of climate change. It is renewable, biodegradable, very low maintenance, fast growing, durable and releases much more oxygen than any other plant. In short, it’s a one stop solution to a tonne of the world’s problems.
Bali & Bamboo
Bali is one of the places in the world that has embraced bamboo so beautifully, you'll find bit in a small things like sipping straw to big houses made purely with bamboo stilts. Every thing that can, has been replaced by bamboo. The conical hat that rice farmers wear are made from bamboo straws serve as in instant cooling device. The gargantuan balinese houses with canopy roofs are made by impressively stringing bamboo poles together. If you look closely you’ll observe just how painstakingly each pole is strung together with straw. The Balinese organisation, IBUKU, is on the frontier of innovation of bamboo construction and have architected some very unique bamboo houses.
Stories from the Far East
In Japan & China, bamboo is a way of life. In China, early writing was done on shorts strips of bamboo and these were tied together in bundles to form early books. In this way a 'book' could be rolled up and easily carried.
Chopsticks, Ramen bowls and many other utensils are made of bamboo. Bamboo shoots called takenoko, are often eaten in several asian cuisines. In a Shinto shrine in Japan, as you enter you'll find a calm little watering bowl which has cute dipping pans which are used to wash hands and drink water with before entering the shrine. The famous yakitori is nothing but meat on bamboo skewers. The Japanese have a concept called “forest bathing” or shinrin-yoku is a short leisurely walk through bamboo forests. Studies have measured changes in stress hormones in people who regularly walked in these forests in Japan.
Indian Bamboo & Cane
Our own country, India, has been using bamboo for generations. Remember how our parents loved to decorate rooms with cane chairs? Even though modern furniture has replaced cane, they still inspire a sense of home in us. An Indian home is not complete till there's a little cane chair lying in the corner. What is cane, if not bamboo? What are wicker baskets that we've taken for so many picnics? The beautiful Bansuri with its distinct sweet notes. Bamboo is a part of us too.
The West has also warmed up to the idea of this amazing grass. There's no dearth of bamboo innovation. You'll find bamboo diapers, clothing, bamboo toothbrushes, even bamboo music speakers.
Bamboo is an innovation hiding in plain sight. If you care about making the right buying choices, there are many things that you can easily swap with bamboo. Replace your kitchenware with bamboo; use bamboo cloth instead of polyester or artificial fibre; give up plastic straws and re(use) bamboo straws instead.
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