Archive for August 2013 | Monthly archive page

When it comes to caring for the environment, we would all like to do the right thing. Whether it’s installing a solar array or buying an electric vehicle, the cost of the new green technologies can sometimes be prohibitive. Luckily, there are some incentive programs to make modern living both sustainable and affordable.

Lawn be Gone – Living on the Central Cost, residents enjoy a Mediterranean climate. Characterized by long hot summers and short rainy winters, the native vegetation has adapted to become drought tolerant and hardy. With suburban development, much of the endemic flora has been replaced by water hogging lawns and golf courses. The county suffers from water shortages on an almost consistent basis, and this has spurred some cities to offer compensation for replacing grass with xeroscaping. Paso Robles, for example, will give homeowners up to $500 to convert their yards into gardens that use rocks, succulents, and other drought tolerant plants.

Energy Extras – San Luis Obispo is blessed with an abundance of sunshine. What better part of the state to take advantage of solar panels and heating systems? The California Solar Initiative provides assistance and cash back for those in PG&E, SCE, and SDG&E territories who wish to operate off of the grid. The program takes you through an energy efficient audit, helps you find a solar installer, and apply for the rebates that apply to your home or business. The CSI program has a total budget of $2.167 billion between 2007 and 2016 and a goal to install approximately 1,940 MW of new solar generation capacity, meaning that there is a pretty deep funding pool for those who qualify.

Cars and Cash- Hybrid and electric vehicles are undoubtedly the wave of the future, but the sticker price can send some prospective shoppers into shock. However, California is home to a number of programs that take a little pain out of making an enlightened decision. The Clean Vehicle Rebate Project from the Center for  Sustainable Energy California provides up to $2,500 to consumers for the purchase of a zero-emission or plug-in vehicle. Federal tax credits for plug in-hybrids and EV’s can reach as high as $7,500 if bought after 2010.

It seems as though every California city has at one point in its history been home to an eclectic group of residents. The Guadalupe Dunes, located in Oceano, once boasted a unique community of intellectuals, mystics, artists, and vagabonds who called themselves the “Dunites”.

In the 1930’s and 1940’s, a collection of disenfranchised sand worshipers claimed the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes as their own, salvaging the wood and scrap materials from an ill-conceived boardwalk and resort town built during the turn of the century. The Dunites were comprised of a number of odd personalities, including Spanish-American war veteran Edward St Claire, notable author and Socialist gubernatorial candidate Upton Sinclair, recovering alcoholic and evangelical naturalist George Blais, artist Elwood Decker, and Gavin Arthur, astrologist and grandson of President Chester A. Arthur. The members published their own alternative magazine with contributors such as Ansel Adams. Dune Forum only lasted for five issues as its expensive price of 35 cents during the Depression and Bohemian content proved to be a hard sell for the majority of the population.

In addition to being the refuge for society’s outcasts, the Oceano Dunes is an Official Archeological Site that is the resting place for Cecil B. DeMille’s massive “Ten Commandments” set, a wildlife sanctuary, and recreation area. Visitors interested in exploring this amazing landscape can delve into the area’s history at the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes Center. For more information, check out Norm Hammond’s book, The Dunites for a comprehensive history of men and women who survived on nuts and fruit, dressed in loincloths to go to town, and wandered around the sand as modern mystics.

 

Bamboo cork boards

If bamboo is an environmentally friendly superhero, then cork must be its perfect sidekick. Case in point: the bamboo and cork hybrid cutting board pictured above. Sustainable cork, which is used in the boards, wallets, cases, and containers here at Bambu Batu, is harvested from the bark of the Cork Oak (Quercus suber) which is endemic to Europe and and Northwest Africa. Most of it is grown in Spain, Portugal and Italy. Light, buoyant and flexible, it is also water resistant and easy to clean. The material is composed of suberin, which allows it to be one of the most versatile natural substances in the world. Once the trees reach 25 years of age, the bark is stripped and let to rest for nine years.

All of our cork products hail from the company, Bambu Home. The business was founded as part of an effort to take advantage of bamboo and resources native to China and bring them to the United States in 2003. Bambu Home’s extensive line of bamboo kitchenwares are fashioned from certified organic bamboo, and hand-crafted in accordance with the highest standards of fair labor practices. Praised as the “new bamboo”, cork’s soft stain-resistant nature has made it an attractive choice to accompany the elegant bamboo products. Bambu Home uses cork that is EU and US CPSC-compliant and machine-washable, and has no dyes, heavy metals, phthalates or PVC. We are proud to carry such an attractive, green selection of bamboo and cork here at Bambu Batu!

In between the spiritual and physical realm walks the shaman, a figure that is able to communicate with both the material and ethereal. The figure of the ban jhankri, or “forest shaman”, comes from Nepal. Described by the indigenous folk as small, golden and hairy, they are master healers and those who chose human shamans to continue their work. Novices are typically young males who are then abducted to live and study in caves. They are later returned to their communities, hours or days after their disappearance. After their kidnapping, the acolytes find a human guru who helps them to initiate trances and communication with the ban jhankri.

The faces of the ban jhankri are carved out of the base of bamboo stalks where the “hair” is represented by the roots. Many of these representations are now being produced for sale in Thailand where artisans hand-carve the visages of the forest spirits. Said to be good luck and excellent feng shui, the rich earth tones and peaceful expressions bring a little of nature’s energy into the home.

Morgana Matus

One of the perks of being the caretaker of the Bambu Batu blog is that I, Morgana Matus, can engage in a little shameless self-promotion from time to time. Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to announce that I have started a photoblog over at morganamatus.com that will be a chronicle of my past adventures, explore visual culture, and be a repository for terrible puns. In the coming months, I will be posting images taken in Norway, Hawaii, Costa Rica, Mexico, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Napa Valley, Lake Tahoe, Big Sur, and San Luis Obispo. You can expect tales from trekking in the frozen north, slogging through the jungles of Central America, and fooling around in clown college.

So, next time you are surfing the web, stop on by! And I promise, no more shameless self-promotion. That name again, Morgana Matus.

Ever feel a bit guilty that you are using what once used to be a stately tree to wipe your behind? The American obsession with soft tissue has been responsible for the clear-cutting of forests across the world, and all just to keep clean in between showers. Simple solution? Bamboo toilet tissue!

According to Simple Ecology, Americans use 50 pounds of tissue paper per person each year. Each household will use two trees a year to fulfill their needs, translating into 200 pounds of paper. This figure is nearly 50% more than in Western Europe and Japan. Furthermore, the processing of the tissue is a major contributor to air and water pollution as well as habitat destruction. The industry is the third largest emitter of greenhouse gasses, and uses many cancer causing chemicals. With a full two-thirds of paper used at home, individuals can do a lot to help reduce their ecological footprint.

Finally, there is a green alternative for your bathroom break. The Tian Zhu Paper Group Co. offers bamboo pulp toilet tissue that is soft, strong, and sustainable. Established in 2006, the company is located in Jinhua Industrial Park, Chishui and operates out of a 70 acre facility. They take advantage of fast growing bamboo to create everything from toilet paper, to facial tissue, napkins, hand towels and kitchen towels. While there is a definite concern over the energy used to transport the paper products, bamboo toilet tissue is a great substitute for the devastation of old growth forests.

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