Single-use plastic is without a doubt one of the world’s worst contributors to waste. Of the 300 million tons of plastic we create every year, only 9% is ever recycled or reused while 91% is left to leach toxins into our oceans and landfills, harming wildlife and our planet. As a result of these numbers, scientists predict there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050.
At the realization that plastic is doing tremendous harm to the planet and its inhabitants alike, more people are switching to sustainably-made alternatives, such as bamboo toothbrushes, straws, bowls, utensils, and more, to replace single-use plastic products. But why is bamboo a better option? Let’s take a look.
What is Bamboo?
Despite its reedy, tree-like appearance, bamboo is actually a type of grass. It is a woody plant with a hollow stem, and you’ll actually find bamboo shoots in many traditional Asian dishes as well as in construction, flooring, textiles, and more. There are over 1,200 species of bamboo, and bamboo grows natively in Asia, Africa, South America, North America, and Australia. Although bamboo grows best in humid, tropical climates, some species can handle colder temperatures and grow in places like Canada.
Bamboo is said to be one of the most impressive renewable resources on the planet, but what makes it worthy of this title?
Fast-Growing and Low Maintenance
Bamboo is the fastest growing plant in the world. It can grow to its full size in just 3 to 4 months and grow 3 feet tall in just 24 hours—you can literally watch bamboo grow before your eyes! Because of this speed, bamboo can easily and quickly be replaced and replenished once it is harvested, unlike trees, which take anywhere from 10 to 30 years to reach maturity.
Bamboo is also an incredibly low maintenance crop to farm, which means it saves more energy and renewable resources like water. For example, it doesn’t require fertilizers, irrigation, or pesticides for optimal growth, which results in less pollution, toxic run-off, and water contamination. In addition, bamboo regrows from its own extensive root system once it is harvested. Not only is this incredibly renewable, but it means the soil will not be disturbed for replanting, increasing the soil health to improve water absorption and prevent future erosion.
Strong and Durable
Although bamboo is a lightweight material, it is incredibly strong—bamboo earns its name “green steel” because it is, in fact, stronger than steel! Yes, you read that right: bamboo is stronger than steel due to its tightly-packed molecular structure; it surpasses steel’s tensile strength of 23,000 pounds per square inch at 28,000 pounds. Bamboo is used all over in construction from structural reinforcements, flooring, to piping. The long-term extraction of bamboo for construction purposes is much more sustainable than wood, steel, or stone because of its fast growth, low maintenance farming, low energy consumption, and eco-friendly harvesting.
Safe and Hygienic
All plastics contain myriads of known and unknown toxins. So when you reuse plastic products like storage containers or water bottles over and over again, you may be preventing excess single-use waste but you are also exposing yourself to numerous toxins, such as BPA, phthalates, and hundreds more. These toxins have been found to disrupt both our endocrine and reproductive systems as well as hinder brain development. Fortunately, since bamboo is a plant, it is naturally free of manmade toxins and chemicals.
Another big bamboo bonus is that bamboo naturally deters bacteria. The bamboo’s fibers are naturally antibacterial without the need for any sort of chemical treatment. Bamboo “kun” is the substance found in bamboo which gives it its natural antibacterial properties. Bamboo kun prevents bacteria and other microbes from growing on bamboo products. Consequently, bamboo is the perfect material to make reusable products such as straws and cutlery due to its sterile nature.
Biodegradable, Compostable, and Good for the Planet
It can take years for woods like pine or oak to break down, and as you know, plastics take centuries to decompose. Bamboo beats both wood and plastic—it only takes bamboo around 6 months to fully decompose in a home compost. Depending on the soil conditions, a bamboo toothbrush handle or razor handle could take approximately 3 years to biodegrade once buried in the ground. Bamboo’s decomposition process can always be sped up if you break the bamboo product into smaller pieces before composting it at home or taking it to a composting facility.
Bamboo forests also offer many benefits to the environment. Compared to other plants and trees, bamboo absorbs two times the amount of carbon dioxide and releases 30% more oxygen, reducing carbon emissions to the atmosphere and providing clean air. Not to mention, bamboo forests promote biodiversity and protect endangered species since these forests provide habitats for a variety of species.
The switch to bamboo products, such as Fawn Organics bamboo bowls, straws, utensils, and razors is an impactful alternative to disposable plastic products. Natural, reusable, and reliable—bamboo is a fully organic and sustainable alternative for both the planet and its people.
Have you used bamboo products? What do you think of replacing single-use plastics with bamboo?
Let us know what you think in the comments below!