Posts Tagged ‘china’

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!

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.

Between signing up for a two-century-long cell contract and buying a smartphone, it seems as though purchasing a mobile device is laden with guilt. Many contain metals from conflict areas and are assembled where working conditions are poor, so looking for a green and socially conscious alternative can seem like an epic quest into researching each step along the supply chain. Now, an international team of developers have created the Fairphone, the world’s first conflict-free, open-source smartphone.

The Fairphone runs on the Android Jellybean 4.2 platform and contains dual SIM cards, a Mediatexk 6589 chipset, and possesses 16 GB of internal memory. Dragontrail glass keeps the touch screen free of scratches, and two 8MP cameras are able to take pictures from the front and rear. As an open-source device, the phone can be programmed by those who are familiar with Firefox and Ubuntu code. Even more importantly, Fairphone works with organizations in Rwanda, Indonesia, and Zambia. They have partnered with groups such as Solutions for Hope, the Conflict-Free Tin Initiative, Action Aid, and Friends of the Earth. Each comes with a Bill of Materials that lets the consumer know where each material has come from. The units are assembled in China at a factory where a fund has been created to improve worker wages and comply with environmental regulations.

The company’s ultimate goal is to have a phone that is made completely from recycled materials. Until that day, they have committed to reclaiming old, obsolete devices. Each Fairphone can either be donated or sold back, and for every one purchased the company contributes €3 to removing waste from Ghana. The Fairphone costs €325, and although it is currently only available for sale in Europe, its success could set a new standard for tech giants around the globe. Of the 20,000 machines already built, half have already been claimed. In a world where e-waste, social welfare, and environmental health challenge even the most well-intentioned of consumers, it is heartening to see a group of people willing to create a product that cares for both people and the planet.

As a climate scientist, tackling global warming is an immense challenge. The most basic information, such as the location of the world’s fossil fuel-burning power plants and how much CO2 they emit, is difficult to obtain while sitting in an office. Through the power of crowdsourcing and the Internet, researchers at Arizona State University have created a computer game called Ventus that takes advantage of data provided by citizen scientists. Led by Kevin Gurney, the website operates on the belief that every facility in the world has at least a dozen or so people living or working near the plant that could provide valuable information. Players register through the page and are asked to provide the name and location of the plant along with what kind of fuel is used, how much electricity is produced, and the amount of CO2 released into the atmosphere. They are able to view all entries as well as make adjustments and edits. Participants who have provided the most useful data at the end of the year will win.

The team at ASU has already compiled a list of 25,000 plants through Google Earth. They estimate that there are over 30,000 fossil-fuel sites across the world, and the number is likely to grow as countries such as India and China continue to industrialize. With power plants accounting for nearly half of the world’s CO2 output, understanding where and how much greenhouse gas is being expelled into the environment will be a powerful tool for governments and communities to use in shifting towards alternative sources of energy.

Need some more convincing that bamboo is the tops? The super-grass can not only clothe, feed and shelter, but it can also save lives. In Vietnam, where major floods are common, H&P Architects have created affordable housing made from local bamboo that is constructed atop recycled oil drums, allowing the buildings to float. The thatched homes are attached to the ground with anchors, keeping them in place when the waters arrive. The frames, roofing, and walls are arranged between steel piles, securing the structure. The floor is elevated, keeping animals outside was well as allowing space for the drums. Triangular cuts open the up the dwelling, creating cross-breezes and taking advantage of natural light. Horizontal doors open to form patios and awnings, but can be shut once the storms sweep through, keeping the inhabitants safe. Suspended bamboo planters on the outside walls help grow vertical gardens that can be used for food, and rainwater collection systems that have the option of being inactivated during wet weather. Each home can be configured to accommodate families of six, or expanded for more people. Able to be assembled on site, each costs about $2,000.

In the event of an earthquake, like the one that struck Central China in May of 2008, the government found themselves in need of temporary shelters. Bamboo to the rescue! Featured in San Francisco’s Urban Re: Vision five years ago, Ming Tang designed the beautiful Folded Bamboo Houses in order to provide protection from the elements. Lightweight, strong, and readily available, the plant was the perfect material of choice for his origami-inspired buildings. Poles are connected together in rigid, geometric shapes, creating modular forms that can be easily shipped and assembled to where they are needed most. Once built, they are then covered by post-consumer recycled paper.

When both earthquakes and typhoons hit, bamboo has literally got you covered. A group of Indian architects made up of Komal Gupta, Vasanth Packirisamy, Vikas Sharma, Sakshi Kumar and Siripurapu Monish Kumar entered plans for the 2011 Design Against the Elements Competition that envisioned an eco-community that consisted of a cluster of housing units, community centers, a library, meditation spaces, and green areas. They also added locations for retail, rainwater collection, greywater systems, and plantations to make the project a vibrant mixed-use living neighborhood. The three-story houses were built on stilts with an element resistant core that holds water and power lines, bathrooms, kitchens, and staircases. Living pods rotate out from the core, made completely of bamboo.

It used to be that the biggest danger to your children from their toys was not being able to find their favorite plaything before bedtime or a long road trip.  Now, parents lose sleep over where action figures and stuffed animals are produced, whether the materials are safe, and what will happen to them once they reach the end of their life span.  Toys are supposed to be enjoyable, not objects of worry and anxiety!  Bamboo is an eco-friendly, non-toxic, and sustainable choice for fun.  Luckily, there are innovative and imaginative designers out there with our children’s entertainment and well being in mind.

– Israeli designers and Chinese manufacturers have teamed up to create safe bamboo toys for children.  The Hape Company and students at the Shenkar College of Engineering and Design in Tel Aviv collaborated with traditional craftsmen to build rolling cars, garden sets, games, puzzles, and dolls.

– For the young artists out there, Rocking Frog makes a bamboo version of the classic spiral drawing toy.  Just the right size to fit into a backpack with a couple of crayons and a few sheets of recycled paper, the smooth bamboo tablet and wheel are hand-crafted in the United States.  The North Carolina builder also offers gorgeous rocking animals composed of bamboo plywood, and finished with with safe stains and seals.

– Bambu Batu is proud to carry (and shake) Dandelion Toys® Bamboo Zoo plush rattles, made from bamboo viscose and filled with corn stuffing.  Machine washable, they are free of harmful toxins, extremely soft, and made in the US.  Perfect for teething, coordination, and a snuggle, they are a great addition to your baby’s crib or stroller.

– When your baby is teething, it is of the utmost importance that they are chewing on something that is safe and free from harsh dyes and chemicals.  Opt for an organic knit blankie with teething ring from Baby Green Sprout for your little one to gnaw upon.  The ring is filled with sterilized water and can be cooled in the refrigerator to bring relief to sore gums.

Feel confident about your purchases!  Look for bamboo, reclaimed materials, safe dyes and sealants, and non-toxic materials!

Residents and visitors to San Francisco know that space is a highly valuable commodity.  Finding a parking space anywhere in the City by the Bay can be nothing short of a miracle, and owning a car feels more like a liability than an advantage.  Car shares such as Zipcar have become popular in recent years, allowing customers to pay a monthly fee to use vehicles on a trip-by-trip basis, letting someone else take care of maintenance, insurance, and garage space.

Now, for those looking for a more hip, compact form of transportation can rent a scooter from Scoot Networks for a fee that costs only slightly more than a MUNI pass.  Riders use their smartphones to locate the electric scooters in their area.  Once claimed, the phones sit in a special dock on the dashboard, unlocking the scooter and displaying information on speed, range, and direction.  Reaching top speeds of 20-30 mph, the scooters are perfect for short hops around the city, and have enough battery life to last for a work day before recharging back in their home parking spots.  (At the moment, scooters must be returned to their original pick-up points, but once the fleet expands, Scoot Networks hopes to facilitate more one-way jaunts.)  To rent a moped, California drivers do not need to obtain a special endorsement on their licenses, and the company plans on offering training for customers who are unfamiliar with operating the vehicles.

By taking advantage of China’s huge investment in electric vehicles, CEO Michael Keating has been able to benefit from the volume of moped production and pay only $1,000 per vehicle.  This relatively small price-tag will let Scoot Networks turn over its fleet every year so users can avoid worrying about mechanical problems due to wear.  Scoot Networks will begin by providing rides to private corporate clients before taking their service public by the end of the year.  Next time you visit the Land of Fog and Clam Chowder, look for the newest trend in city travel!

Want to live close to nature without having to move away from a cultural, economic, or social hub?  Residents of Milan, Italy no longer have to compromise urban life for the peace of pastoral living.  Architect Stefano Boeri has been commissioned to build the world’s first vertical forest, the Bosco Verticale, within the heart of the city.

The dual towers will stand 27 stories tall and will be home to over 900 trees, 5,000 shrubs, and 11,000 ground cover plants.  On flat ground, the amount of vegetation housed within the towers would be equivalent to nearly 10,000 square meters of forest.  The plants are irrigated by the building’s grey water systems.  In addition to producing oxygen and processing carbon dioxide, the Bosco Verticale helps in the creation of a micro-climate by filtering dust particles, creating humidity, and protecting from solar radiation and airborne toxins.  As one of the most polluted cities in Europe, Milan has been especially compelled to lead the way for innovative environmental design.

The Bosco Verticale project is part of an effort of metropolitan reforestation that is seen as critical to the survival of modern cities. Boeri’s firm has also created designs for other environmentally enlightened  structures including Solid Waves, a green-walled skyscraper complex in Astana, Kazakhstan. Three small towers bend horizontally at ground level to form sheltered residences and courtyards, each covered in a facade of vegetation that acts as insulation, air scrubber, and combination rainwater filter and sponge.  The layout allows for maximum sunlight to illuminate the dwellings and ample open spaces for residents to enjoy the outdoor green areas.

In more densely populated provinces such as Chongquing, China, architects have formulated plans to take advantage of vertical space by establishing gardens on each level of the highrise they have dubbed Urban Forest.  The design aims to re-invoke the cultural affection for nature while also acting as an iconic symbol of cutting edge technology and economic prosperity.   Taking advantage of a thriving civic center, the Urban Forest would house a large number of people without contributing to sprawl, and maintain a vital psychological connection to the natural world.

Between the increasingly popular movements towards establishing rooftop gardens, balcony green zones, and vertical farming, the green revolution is certainly on the upswing.  Sustainability and living in harmony with the earth — now that’s something we can look up to.

Bamboo is the grass that just keeps on giving.  Now, in addition to sheltering, clothing, and feeding us, this magnificent plant can also provide us with a healthy buzz.  If you are searching for something new and exotic to spice up your happy hour, you need look no further than this magnificent plant.

Traditionally Tipsy- “Zhuyeqing jiu”, produced in China, is a sweet liquor made from bamboo leaves, which gives the liquid a yellowish green color.  It is brewed for a number of herbal medicines, and ranges from 38-46% in alcohol content.  “Jugyeopcheongju” is a traditional Korean liquor also made with the leaves of bamboo.  Throughout Asia, wine is made from fermented bamboo and other sugary carbohydrates and housed in the nodes of the plant.  Some varieties of rice wine are infused with the juice of the grass and once sealed inside the stalk, absorbs more of the bamboo’s liquid.

The Bamboo Cocktail-  A variation of the martini, the Bamboo Cocktail was created during the later half of the nineteenth century at the Grand Hotel in Yokohama, Japan.  The drink combines vermouth, sherry, orange bitters, Angostura aromatic bitters, a twist of lemon, and an olive for decoration.  Extra points for serving the cocktail in a bamboo drinking vessel.

Helping Hands-  Even when not the main player, bamboo is an important supporting actor in the production and presentation of alcohol.  To produce Indian Jack-fruit wine, the pulp of the fruit is soaked, the seeds removed, and ground in bamboo baskets to extract the juice.  The juice is later transferred to earthen jars and fermented. Bamboo wine bottle racks and holders are currently en vogue, and whether it is woven, compressed, or fashioned from the entire stalk of the grass, the material makes for a stylish way to cradle your distilled delights.

Tiki Time-  What would a backyard Polynesian retreat be without the bamboo tiki bar?  Bambu Batu is home to several styles of bars and patio sets that are certain to make you feel as though you are on your own private tropical island.  Add a fashionable surf cutting board for garnishes, bamboo tongs to handle the ice cubes, and bamboo kitchen towels for cleanup, and you are set to entertain like a pro.

Whether fermented or furniture, bamboo is the life of the party!

 

With Fall firmly established and Winter on its way, it is time to start the search for the season’s perfect, warming beverage.  Luckily for San Luis Obispo residents, we have a fantastic resource for some of the highest caliber tea around.

Founded by two sisters with a passion for tea and culture, Swan Sisters Tea is a boutique company that maintains a year-round presence in the US and China in order to ensure the quality of some of the best and rarest leaves in the world.  Each harvest season, Swan Sisters travel to remote regions seeking the most unique and delicious vintages.  To them, tea is a magical beverage that encompasses culture as well as health, ceremony as well as science.  It is the mission of the company to spread the joy of tea and educate the public in an effort to share their passion and promote the drink as a way to live a healthier and more connected life.

Consistent with an environmentally conscious business ethic, Swan Sisters only sources teas that have been grown organically and without the use of chemicals, pesticides or fertilizers.  All packaging is either recycled or reused, leftover tea and cardboard are composted, and press materials are printed with eco-friendly inks.  The farms chosen to supply the company are selected based on the ethical treatment of its workers, meaning that Fair Trade practices are followed and encouraged.  It is the hope of Swan Sisters to coordinate and fund more Fair Trade certifications for their growers in the future.  To ensure freshness, each leaf is hand picked, and the dates of harvest and grade of each tea are carefully marked and recorded.

Bambu Batu is happy to announce Swan Sisters tasting and demonstrations this Saturday, November 26.  Come and sample expertly brewed and beautifully presented varieties, learn a little about the company, and take home a gift for the holidays.  For more information on Swan Sisters, contact Didi Yeh at <didi@swansisters.com> or <info@swansisters.com>.

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