Posts Tagged ‘plastic’

 The human population has an addiction to plastics, and it is a habit that sends tons of debris into the ocean each year. While governments and nonprofits have been struggling to find a solution to our marine mess, a 19-year-old aerospace engineering student at TU Delft has invented a device to help remove plastic pollution. Boyan Slat is the mind behind the Ocean Cleanup Array, a project that would combine large floating booms with anchored processing platforms that could gather debris for processing and recycling. Networks of these systems could be placed around floating garbage patches around the world, potentially being able to remove 7,250,000 tons of rubbish in five years. The array would be powered by the ocean’s currents, allowing marine life enough time to escape and avoid becoming trapped along with the plastics.

Slat’s design currently only exists on paper, but has already won such awards as Best Technical Design 2012 at the Delft University of Technology. He also presented his concept at TedXDelft last year, and has since founded a non-profit to take the idea from imagination to implementation. At the moment, the Foundation is seeking financial backing as well as support for its scientific research. While the Ocean Cleanup Array would not be able to remove the total amount of trash we dump into our waters each year, it is an encouraging step towards reversing our petroleum footprint. Along with a shift in how we produce and dispose of our materials, the global community can begin to turn the tide on how we treat our ocean ecosystems.

 

Peering into the creek flowing next to Bambu Batu, I am happy to say that since we banned the plastic bag in the county, I see fewer flimsy pieces of trash floating in the water. However, I still see a ton of plastic water bottles nestled in the reeds and submerged in the mud. San Luis Obispo, look towards Concord, Massachusetts who as of the first of this year have officially ditched the single-use plastic water bottle. It is now illegal to sell any non-sparkling, unflavored beverage in a PET plastic container of sizes 1 liter or less. A first offense gets a warning, a second infraction levies a $25 fine, and the third will slap you with a $50 ticket.

Aside from being a huge eyesore when they appear in our neighborhoods and natural areas, plastic water bottles use a staggering amount of resources to produce, fill, and recycle. Activist group Ban the Bottle estimates that it takes 17 million barrels of oil a year to make the containers, enough petroleum to fuel 1.3 million cars. In 2007, Americans used a whopping 50 billion bottles, recycling only 23%. That means 38 billion bottles ended up in landfills.

In addition to wasting fossil fuels, activists are worried that the bottle water industry is having a negative impact on local community water tables. By draining aquifers, big companies take advantage of tax payer subsidized infrastructure only to sell back the water at a gigantic profit. Human health is also a concern, as many chemicals found in PET plastic have been shown to be harmful. For example, antimony, a component of polyethylene terephlalate plastics, has been shown to cause dizziness and depression in low doses, and and in high levels can cause anxiety, vomiting, and death.

Why not avoid the whole mess altogether and buy yourself a trusty reusable water bottle? Here at the store, we recommend our Bamboo Bottle or bamboo-topped Klean Kanteen. Make a statement, keep hydrated, and do you part to keep the Earth from becoming a plastic planet!

Smile Squared Bamboo Toothbrushes

2014 Update: Bamboo toothbrushes are now available at Bambu Batu. Order yours now!

Healthy teeth are important for a winning smile and a robust immune system. A good brushing at least twice a day is optimal for keeping the pearlies white and cavity-free. Unfortunately, while we are trying to do well by ourselves, we may be causing harm to the planet. About 450 million plastic toothbrushes are thrown into landfills each year in the United States alone. Each piece takes over 1,000 years to degrade, leaving a legacy of pollution and waste. Realizing that caring for ourselves does not have to come at the expense of the environment, green-minded companies have come up with alternatives to petroleum-based brushes. Of course, our favorites are those made from the ever and always sustainable bamboo!

Brush with Bamboo- Founded by the Kumar family in Southern California back in 2008, Brush with Bamboo began as a journey towards sustainability. The family converted their suburban home into an organic farm and learning center and started Brush with Bamboo as a way to help reduce the impact of plastics on the environment. The handles of their toothbrushes are made of bamboo and are curved to feel comfortable both in the hand and mouth. The bristles are composed of a blend of 30% bamboo and tea plants, and 70% nylon. While the bristles are not biodegradable, they can be recycled. The packaging is biodegradable and made from 100% bamboo. The toothbrushes last just as long as their plastic counterparts, but are much gentler on the planet.

Smile Squared- Imagine if something as simple as brushing your teeth could change the world! During a humanitarian mission to Central America, the founders of Smiled Squared witnessed the importance of dental hygiene on a child’s life. From health to aesthetics, they were determined to make a positive impact in the lives of impoverished youth by giving the gift of a shining, stellar grin. With each bamboo toothbrush purchased, Smiled Squared donates one to a kid in need. With a bamboo handle, DuPont bristles, and biodegradable package, the brushes are a wonderful way to help others while also helping yourself. Bambu Batu is proud to carry both their adult and children’s toothbrushes!

Far and away, the most common piece of trash we see littering the sides of freeways, clogging gutters, and disgracing our creeks and streams is the single-use, plastic bags. In San Luis Obispo County, shoppers consume nearly 130 million carryout plastic bags a year.  In California, less than 5% are actually recycled.  On average, the bags are used for less than 12 minutes before being thrown away, making their way into our landfills and marring the scenery.

Being near the coast, SLO County residents have a special responsibility to halt the flow of plastic into the sea.  Studies have shown that in the Pacific Ocean, 92% of seabirds and 35% contain petrochemicals in their stomachs.  Pacific trash gyres are composed extremely high concentrations of plastics with bags being a main contributor to marine pollution.  While we think that these bags are “free”, we pay for them in environmental, municipal, and social costs.  So, what is a concerned citizen to do?

Beginning October 1, 2012, all stores in SLO will stop providing single-use plastic bags.  Businesses will provide recyclable paper bags upon request.  Each bag will cost 10 cents, a fee that will reimburse the store for the price of bag.  To avoid the charge and do your part to help reduce unnecessary waste, bring your own reusable sack!  They can be used for years, and eliminate the need for single-use plastics.  For the most part, the use less energy in production, reduce solid waste disposal costs, and can even make a trendy fashion statement.

Here at Bambu Batu, we have several eco-friendly reusable bags for you to carry around with style!  Choose from our Blue Lotus grain and produce bags to store your veggies at the grocery store, bamboo totes, or printed Indian handbags.  Feel good about your purchases and your ecological footprint by making the switch to reusable bags!

Sorry Oscar, but I HATE trash.  Case in point; marine garbage patches.  What exactly are these giant, floating messes?  Technically, these suspended litter heaps are concentrations of debris (usually consisting of small pieces of plastic) concentrated within a common area.  Contrary to popular belief, there are no permanent “islands” being created in the middle of the ocean that can be detected via satellite.  These collections of rubbish are, however, extremely harmful to marine ecosystems and enormously difficult to contain, clean and manage.

There are several massive known aggregations throughout the world, identified as the Eastern Pacific (between Hawaii and California), Western Pacific (off the Coast of Japan) and North Pacific Subtropical Convergence Zone (north of Hawaii) garbage patches.  There are also Atlantic equivalents to the Pacific concentrations (as debris will collect around major gyres, or large circulatory currents), although research is comparatively thin compared to those in the Pacific.  While these are not the only places flotsam accumulates from human activities on the mainland, they are by far some of the biggest and the subject of great concern. Since their size and shape changes daily or seasonally, estimates of location and span are at time difficult to pin down in exact terms.

The vast majority of the masses are made up of plastics.  From single-use bags to water bottles, plastics are responsible for chemical pollution through degradation, choking marine life who mistake objects for food (see the Guardian’s photo essay on Albatross death), and endangering entire ecosystems by disintegrating into tiny pieces which are taken up through the bottom of the food chain.

These  particles are then accumulated upwards into the tissues of larger organisms, eventually reaching top predators and human beings who consume animals lower down on the food chain.  Plastics are very hard to remove from the oceans as sunlight may reduce them into pieces unable to be captured by nets. Where trash collects, so does marine life, and attempts at skimming debris might also harm the creatures swimming amongst the junk.  Major clean-up efforts would also use a large amount of fossil fuels to locate, process and haul the detritus out of the sea.

Luckily, as individuals, we have the power to make decisions that can have large-scale effects.  Water bottles and plastic bags, who are common occupants of these floating landfills, can be replaced with multiple use items such as cloth grocery sacks (like Blue Lotus’s stylish produce bags), thermoses, canteens and reusable water bottles. At Bambu Batu, we dig the sustainable and attractive Bamboo Bottle. We also offer an attractive assortment of re-usable bamboo utensil sets and sporks, to further reduce your dependency on disposable plastics.

Reducing the amount of plastics we use, as well as recycling and properly disposing of what we purchase, can go a long way to stem the flow of trash making its way into our oceans and food chain.

The Bamboo Bottle Company has got eco-friendly style figured out.  Their attractive bamboo, glass and plastic reusable drink container is durable and perfect for both hot and cold liquids.  Functional as well as fashionable, the materials used in the bottle’s construction are sustainable, easy to clean, and non-toxic.  The company has put an enormous amount of thought into creating a great-looking and environmentally conscious product, and Bambu Batu is proud to have these beauties gracing our shelves!

Some cool features:

The bamboo: The exterior is made from Mao Tzu, or Moso bamboo (Phyllostachys pubescens), a fast-growing species that can reach 90ft in 9 months.  The plants are hand-harvested to allow the flowering strands to keep growing and to minimize the impact on the soil from heavy machinery.  After cutting and boiling out the sugars using equipment powered by bamboo sawdust, the sticks are dried, shaped, and pressed together to form the outside of the bottle!

As a material, bamboo is renewable, produces 35% more oxygen than most trees, and can trap 12 tons of CO2 per hectare.  Topsoil is not depleted by harvesting, and removal has little impact on wildlife.  Possessing a higher tensile strength than many steel alloys, bamboo is enormously strong.  What a great choice for durability and insulation!

The glass and plastic: The little plastic included in the construction of the bottle is BPA-free, made from food-grade materials, and dishwasher safe.  The company plans to keep improving its design so that plastic can be eliminated or replaced altogether.  The glass interior allows for a clean, fresh taste that does not leech or contaminate liquids.  Best of all, the glass cylinder can be removed and washed with ease and can be reused time after time.   Each of the components is recyclable, and ultimately they cut down on plastic and Styrofoam waste by eliminating your need for disposable beverage containers.

For a video on how to disassemble and clean your bottle, watch this quick demonstration!

Conscious business practices: The Bamboo Bottle Company has partnered with several sustainable organizations that donate to charities, offset their CO2 emissions, fund biomethane projects and family farms, and use a green credit card processing company that contributes to 350.org. Their blog regularly advocates for social justice, responsible commerce, and environmental causes.

Swing by Bambu Batu and pick up your Bamboo Bottle today. Drinking never felt so good!

Right, wrong and on the fence. Sometimes it’s straight forward, right?

Wrong: when you fail to mention your boyfriend to a guy who offers to buy you drink, and then you slip away to “the bathroom” upon receipt of said drink. Wrong.

Right: When you then take said drink to boyfriend waiting for you in another part of the bar. Right.

In between: When you tell your boyfriend you bought it for him. Grey area.

Being green can be similar.

Wrong: Throwing away aluminum cans and taking 40 minute showers. Wrong.

Right: Taking aluminum cans out of the trash and putting them in the the recycling, then only taking a long enough shower to get the trash smell out of your hair. Right.

In between: Buying the occasional plastic water bottle and justifying it because “you recycled it” and then taking a semi long shower because you never do it.

However, it’s impossible to determine right and wrong without some amount of informed decision making. You KNOW that aluminum cans are recyclable. You KNOW that we don’t have enough water to go around. You know that plastic isn’t that bad if you…oh…uh…do we know that? Fact Check? Bueller?

Plastic has its uses and its place in this world. Yup. There are many effective and important uses for plastic. But here are eight facts you may or may not have known about how detrimental it can be to us and to our environment.

“BPA is a synthetic estrogen and commonly used to strengthen plastic and line food cans. Scientists have linked it, though not conclusively, to everything from breast cancer to obesity, from attention deficit disorder to genital abnormalities in boys and girls alike.” (From Raw Earth Living) And you think, what about IV tubes? Aren’t those useful and good? Yeah, they are. However, there is a pretty nasty chemical that goes in to making an IV what it is. Known as di-ethylhexyl, this substance can leech from an IV into the bloodstream, and cause complications in more susceptible members of the population, such as infants. The average American produces half a pound of plastic waste per day. ‘The bodies of almost all marine species, including some of the most vulnerable and wildest species on the planet – animals that spend nearly their entire living far from humans – now contain plastic.” (Mail Online) For every 1,000 plastic bags distributed, 3 wind up in the ocean.  That doesn’t seem terrible, unless you consider that one billion bags are distributed every day. Plastics in the U.S. are made primarily (70 percent) from domestic natural gas. (Earth911.com) More than 260 species have been reported to ingest or become entangled in plastic debris. It will take 50 to 80 years for a plastic cup to decompose. (Greenfeet.com)
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