Will bamboo products reduce our reliance on single use plastics?
Single use plastics are widely used across many industries, from plastic water bottles to household detergents to beauty products, disposable razors and so much more. However, despite being a durable material and inexpensive to produce, plastic can take up to 1,000 years to decompose. In the UK, over five million tonnes of plastic is consumed each year, yet only a quarter is recycled. Unfortunately, the plastic that isn’t recycled enters our environment, overflowing landfill sites, polluting oceans, and damaging our ecosystem. As part of Plastic Free July, I wanted to explore why bamboo products are such a good eco-friendly alternative and whether their rising popularity will help reduce our reliance on single use plastics.
Bamboo is highly sustainable
While many people think bamboo is a tree, it actually belongs to the grass family and has over 1,000 species. With the larger woody bamboo species being very tree-like in appearance. Overall, the bamboo plant is highly sustainable and the fastest growing plant on the planet. It grows to full size in just 3-4 months and with low water consumption. This compares to standard trees which can take over 30 years to grow to full size.
Bamboo is strong
Despite being a very light building material, bamboo is three times stronger than timber. Also, compared to steel, it has a greater tensile strength, meaning it can withstand more tension or stretching pressure before breaking. Subsequently, bamboo is commonly used to construct walls and partitions, roofs, and even scaffolding in some countries.
Bamboo is hygienic
I didn’t realise this but bamboo fibres are naturally anti-fungal and anti-bacterial and don’t require any toxic chemical treatments. This is due to a substance called bamboo kun, an antimicrobial bio-agent which gives bamboo its natural antibacterial properties. This substance prevents bacteria and microbes growing on bamboo products and makes it the perfect plant for hygienic products such as toothbrushes, cutlery and drinking straws.
Bamboo is durable
Bamboo has high silica content which makes it difficult for pests to digest. This enables your bamboo products to have a long lifespan. So, under proper care, you can reuse your bamboo products over and over again without deterioration. So, by investing in more durable bamboo products, it’s likely that we’ll throw fewer products away. This will significantly reduce our impact on the environment.
Bamboo is biodegradable & recyclable
Bamboo is 100% biodegradable and can decompose within months or years although it varies for different bamboo products. This biodegradable quality makes it a great replacement for plastics which remain in our landfill for thousands of years. You can also recycle bamboo products provided they haven’t been chemically processed.
Bamboo is great for the environment
Bamboo plants absorbs twice as much carbon dioxide than trees, while generating a vast amount of oxygen; up to 30% more than most plants and trees. Also, as they contain natural anti-bacterial substances which the tree trunk uses to protect itself against insect attacks and fungus, bamboo can be grown without pesticides.
Switching to bamboo products
Bamboo makes great eco-friendly products for everyday use, enabling you to reduce your single use plastic usage. For Plastic Free July, my family and I have been exploring a few different bamboo products, so thought I’d give you an overview of our favourites.
For starters, we tried a bamboo toothbrush, razor, shaving brush, reusable make up remover pads and bamboo straws made by Bambooi UK. Bambooi UK offer a wonderful selection of plastic free eco swaps for the bathroom and kitchen. You can either buy them on their own or as part of a neat bundle, which we did, and comes in a cute gift box. They also offer a razor blade recycling scheme. If you send your old razor blades in the packaging, you receive 50 Bambooi points for every blade, which can be redeemed against coupons.
We also tried bamboo straws and cutlery sets from Bambaw, which offer a great range of bamboo products, and perfect for summer picnics.
A bamboo future
It’s clear there are many benefits to bamboo products; they’re biodegradable, durable, sustainable and hygienic. They also provide great eco swaps for some of our everyday plastic products. However, while bamboo products are gaining in popularity and certainly have the potential to reduce our reliance on single use plastics, there’s still a long way to go before that comes a reality. A big challenge being that plastic products are often cheaper and easier to obtain. But with everyone making small changes to reduce their consumption and switching to bamboo products or other eco alternatives where possible, we can make small steps in the right direction.
Main photo by Maksim Shutov on Unsplash