Global plastic production has been increasing at an exponential rate since the 1950s. By 2050 it is estimated that plastic manufacturing will contribute to 20% of the global petroleum consumption and 15% of the annual global carbon budget.
It is also predicted that by then, there will be a greater mass of plastic in the ocean than fish. Most plastic that we use today will still exist in some form on this planet for another 400 to 1000 years.
In light of these facts, how can we, as a population continue to live in the same way that has brought us to where we are now? Our planet is choking on plastic, and yet, many of us choose to remain oblivious to the changes happening. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
Although systemic changes from the government level may take months or even years to be implemented, there are things that each individual can do from today, that will all count towards improving the health of our planet.
One such attempt is to take a hard look at the current plastic laden lifestyle that we are living. What if there was a material that had the same properties as plastic – versatile, durable, water-resistant, and affordable – but didn’t inflict nearly as much damage to the environment?
Surely, we’d all be making a switch.
The good news is that such material does exist. Bamboo could be one of nature’s gold solution for this catastrophic plastic pollution. Aside from the fact that it is biodegradable and compostable, bamboo can be grown rapidly on a large scale and requires much less water than the manufacturing process for plastic.
Most crucially, the use of bamboo, if based on best-practice technology, can be considered CO2 neutral or even better. This highly versatile, eco-friendly, and even aesthetically pleasing natural material can be used as a wonderful alternative to various plastic products.
In this article, we’ll be looking specifically at 15 swaps we can make in our homes to improve the quality of our life and the quality of our planet.
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In the kitchen
All of us spend at least some time in the kitchen every day, and ideally, we should also be preparing more home-cooked meals for the health of our body and of the planet. One way we can spruce up our cooking experience is to start using bamboo-made high-quality utensils that are long-lasting and aesthetically pleasing.
1. Bamboo cutting board
An easy swap could be to opt for wooden chopping boards instead of plastic ones, which often end up looking tattered after just a few months.
In many Asian countries such as Japan and China, people still regularly use bamboo chopping boards in their households. Bamboo chopping boards have also been found to have higher antimicrobial properties compared to other types of wooden boards, making it an excellent option in the kitchen
2. Bamboo kitchen sponges
Bamboo sponges are a much better alternative to their counterpart plastic ones. Since we should be changing our dishwashing sponges every few weeks, this can amount to a lot of plastic waste if we don’t watch out.
But if you select a natural bamboo-based sponge, you don’t have to worry about where it ends up, as they can be degraded back into the natural world. They’ll also give your kitchen a more natural and wholesome feel.
3. Bamboo washcloths
Many people are often not aware that cheap clothes are often made of synthetic fiber. This means that there are microplastics embedded within the material that is not visible to the naked eye but are nonetheless there.
With every load of laundry wash, these microplastics leach out and get sent into the sewage system to their eventual destination: the ocean. By opting to purchase clothes made of bamboo fabric, not only are you reducing the plastic waste but bamboo cotton also tends to be a lot softer and water absorbent.
Image by: Willow Beans
4. Bamboo plates
Are you still using plastic plates?
Image by: Green Optimistic
Bamboo plates are also common these days as we see more online images of beautiful smoothie bowls or salad bowls in wooden tableware.
Since bamboo plates are not as fragile as glass, they can also be a safe alternative to plastic plates for young children.
In the bathroom
The bathroom is a special place where so many of us start and end our day. By changing small elements of your bathroom into natural materials, not only are you doing good for our planet, but you can also create a more relaxing atmosphere to look after your well-being.
5. Bamboo toothbrush
This is one of the easiest and most popular swaps to make. Since every single person owns a toothbrush, changing to a bamboo one can have a huge impact over the long term.
Generic toothbrushes are made up of not only plastic but also rubber and other synthetic materials, making them extremely difficult to recycle. By using a bamboo one, you are ensuring that your finished toothbrushes biodegrade and do not remain in landfills for hundreds of years to come.
6. Bamboo cotton buds
Normal cotton buds usually have stems made of plastic to ensure they are lightweight and cheap. Great in the short run, but horrible in the long run.
In many beach clean-ups, cotton buds are one of the most commonly picked up form of plastic waste as they travel easily across the sea and get washed up on the shore. Avoid adding further damage to our planet by using a biodegradable bamboo cotton bud instead.
7. Bamboo make-up remover pads
Anyone who’s tried to remove make-up with cotton pads knows that they can only be used for a few seconds and that often, we need to use more than one. Over time, this generates a lot of unnecessary waste.
Image by: Livingdisrobed
The sustainable alternative would be to invest in a bamboo make-up remover pad which is not only reusable but they are also biodegradable once you’ve gotten enough use out of them.
8. Bamboo hairbrush/comb
Looking to purchase a new hairbrush or hair comb? Bamboo hair brushes not only have handles made of bamboo, but their pins can also be made of bamboo which reduces damage to the hair compared to a standard plastic one.
Long-lasting and odor resistant, these are a great eco-friendly investment to make.
9. Bamboo razor
Many of us have experienced having to throw out plastic razors just because the blades begin to rust - even if the handle is perfectly fine! Like any other plastic waste, these razors end up polluting the natural environment.
A better alternative would be to use razors with bamboo handles and replaceable blades. You’ll also be saving up a lot of money!
Image by: vita
In the bedroom
We all probably spend the most time in the bedroom compared to any other rooms in the house. This would be a great place to implement lifestyle choices that are in line with your values. Start small, and eventually, you’ll have no plastic in your bedroom!
10. Bamboo home decor and furniture
Next time you’re moving houses, why not opt for bamboo-based home decor or furniture? As opposed to some of the plain plastic furniture out there, bamboo themed home decors can create an oasis of calm and serenity, making you feel a little more in touch with nature, even if you may be living in the center of a metropolitan area.
11. Bamboo pegs
Every household uses pegs for hanging their laundry, which means we all have the opportunity to make a better choice in this circumstance. It doesn’t cost much more to choose bamboo pegs instead of plastic ones; they’re also less likely to crack and break!
12. Bamboo hanger
Using bamboo hangers instead of plastic ones is an easy swap that anyone can make to reduce the number of plastic waste that goes into the ocean. Whilst slightly more costly, they tend to last longer and are much more durable.
Bamboo hangers also look much more chic and classy in the wardrobe!
13. Bamboo window shade/blind
If you’ve ever been to Asia, you’ll notice that many houses and restaurants may have shades/blinds made of bamboo. Not only are they aesthetically pleasing, but they are just as effective as plastic at keeping your room well shaded. Bamboo shades are also less likely to bend or break compared to their plastic counterparts, which makes them a great investment.
Image by: mydecorative
14. Bamboo laundry basket
Plastic laundry baskets are still prevalent in many households. But why not change yours to a bamboo one so that you can feel good every time you put your clothes in there? They also look fantastic in the bathroom.
In the garden
Who doesn't love spending some time outdoors tending to their gardens? Even if you don't have a garden, growing some house plants can be a great way to bring nature into your home. When you do, make sure you choose consciously to make sure that you're not introducing unnecessary plastic!
15. Bamboo flower pots
If you’re a gardening fanatic, try using bamboo pots to plant your garden instead of plastic ones.
Plastic pots can wear out after a few years, whilst these last for a longer time, look beautiful and don’t harm the planet. What a great way to make your gardening even better!
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A final note regarding all the bamboo products is that we shouldn’t necessarily throw out everything in our households that are made of plastic to replace with bamboo alternatives. This will only add to the increasing plastic landfill.
It simply means that when the natural time comes to replace some products, you can always make a better choice. Getting rid of all plastics in our life won’t happen overnight. But remember, the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step!
Article By Monami Miyamoto
Monami is a London based student and sustainability enthusiast. Having grown up in South East Asia with a Japanese background she has seen, first hand, the various applications & potential of bamboo products and hopes to share it with the world.