Archive for November 2011 | Monthly archive page

Give some people lemons and they will make lemonade.  For the founders of the Great Elephant Poo Poo Paper Company, give them elephant, cow, horse or panda droppings, and they will make stationery.  With the belief that products should fit into a cycle of responsibility and sustainability, the Company fashions tasteful paper products from the less than tasteful leavings of fiber-munching animals.  Beginning by using elephant dung as their material of choice, the Company intended to raise money and awareness for pachyderm well-being as well as provide jobs for those living in communities near parks and reserves.

The paper itself is made from dried dung pulp, a substance generally high in fibrous materials.  After collection, the poo is rinsed, leaving only the bamboo, fruits and veggies that the animal has consumed.  The remains are boiled for sterilization, and color is added.  Then, pulp from bamboo, banana trees and pineapples are mixed in to bolster the mush and to produce strength and thickness.   The wet pulp is separated into flat cakes and pressed against screens which are left out in the sun to dry naturally.

As a bamboo store with a sense of humor, there was no way that Bambu Batu could pass up the opportunity to carry their line of Panda Poopoopaper, featuring a graphic of panda nibbling on a piece of what will soon become material for the most unique stationery set you will ever own.

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 <> or <>.

This Thanksgiving, take a break from the traditional fine china and roast turkey for a holiday with a little more color, spice, and of course, bamboo.

The Dining Room Table: For an easy cleanup without the worry of washing or guilt of paper plates, set your table with bamboo veneer wear.  The disposable plates are lightweight, strong, and with their raw, earthy tones, perfect for an attractive presentation.  Our bamboo flatware is sturdy, reusable, and a worry free alternative to grandma’s antique silver.   Leftover veggies and grains can be stored in our bamboo compost pail with charcoal filters and removable liner for quick, odorless, and  painless trips out to the backyard heap.

Dinner Preparation: All good chefs know that the right cooking tools can be just as important as quality ingredients.  Bamboo spoons, spatulas, tongs and strainers are not only sustainable alternatives to hardwoods and synthetics, but surprisingly heat resistant, robust, and light.  Cutting boards do not generally scar as badly as their plastic counterparts, and can also double as beautiful presentation pieces.  Check out the surf and ukelele cutting boards here at Bambu Batu!

The Meal: Add a little Asian flare to your meal by cooking your turkey in bamboo tubes or as a veggie option, sauté young shoots with mushrooms and your favorite bit of green. If you prefer pork to poultry, you might enjoy this recipe that features spicy bamboo shoots.

Clothing:  When dressing for Thanksgiving, fabric with a little stretch is key for maintaining comfort when in possession of a very full belly.  Bamboo is the perfect material for creating the softest, most flexible, and stylish wear for the holidays.  Relax in a pair of lounge pants, impress your guests in one of our many beautiful dresses,  or show your gratitude for your food and where it is produced with one of our locally printed “Support Your Local Farmer” t-shirts!

Express your thanks for a grass that keeps on giving this year!  With applications from clothing to food, it is hard not to be amazed by such a remarkable plant!

Help us spread the word about responsible holiday shopping, the importance of supporting local businesses, and (most importantly!) the Green Saturday After-Thanksgiving Sale at Bambu Batu. Whoever does the best job of sharing, re-posting and generally helping to promote our biggest sale event of the year will win two Bambu Batu Gift Certificates ($25 each!) – one for you and one for a loved one. Thank you for spreading the Love! (Of course, if you’d rather keep both Gift Certificates for yourself, or give both of them to loved one, you can distribute them however you like.)

In addition to saving 20% off any one item in the store, all Bambu Batu customers will also revel the festivities as we kick off the holiday season in style. Swan Sisters Tea will be on hand pouring samples of their delicious organic teas, the intuitive and amiable Jude Alexander will be present for personal demonstrations of the Tarot Game to uncover your inner wisdom, and Carol Overstreet will offer Henna painting to celebrate your outer beauty.

Only at Bambu Batu: soft on the skin, easy on the earth, and good for the soul!


“What on earth will it take?”

HopeDance FiLMs 2011 and Bob Banner present the movie Thrive, on Wednesday, November 30 at 7pm at the Palm Theater in San Luis Obispo.  This unique and thought provoking documentary reveals the consolidation of power fueled by money and globalization.  Weaving together developments in science, arts, politics, and the current waves of activism, the movie strives to offer solutions and suggestions for our ailing institutions, and strategies for taking control of our common future. Featuring commentary from visionaries and activists such as Amy Goodman, Deepak Chopra, Paul Hawken, and Vandana Shiva, the film hopes to enliven, inspire, and educate a world yearning for change.

In his journey to understand the devastation of poverty pervasive across cultural boundaries, Foster Gamble has discovered a code derived from UFO technology that has been embedded and represented in nature and human social systems throughout the centuries.  He believes that this information is a blueprint for finding a clean, limitless supply of energy that could completely revolutionize the way people live.  Gamble asserts that power could potentially be extracted from the space surrounding us, and therefore stands as a direct threat to our largest and most powerful economically influential industries.  By following greed and corruption through diverse sectors of our society, he makes the case that this information has been deliberately suppressed in efforts to control governments, banks,  businesses, housing, medicine, and educational institutions.

Through renewable energy, popular political will, and communication, can we come together as a people and not just survive, but thrive?

Having studied science for a majority of my academic career, I consider myself generally skeptical of things like palm reading, Ouija boards, and astrology.  I assumed that Tarot was just another form of esoteric fortune telling, and never gave the idea of having my cards read much serious respect.  Recently, I had the opportunity to ask a question of the deck with an experienced reader who explained to me that Tarot was more about storytelling and personal interpretation than divining the future.  Through the format of an entertaining and surprisingly addictive board game, I pulled two cards that affirmed some gut feelings that I had concerning some major life decisions, and began to see the art of Tarot in a new light.

Created by Jude Alexander, the Tarot Game is the product of her 25 year journey through reading and interpreting the cards and spreading the joy of divine play.  Designed as a way to address life’s issues and share one’s feelings in a friendly and safe environment, the colorful and inviting game makes introspection fun without the fear that usually accompanies a deep look inward.   In addition to being the creator of the board game, Jude also hosts sessions for individuals and small groups that wish to develop their sense of intuition and become more familiar with the deck.  Plato was onto something when he said that one can learn more about a man in an hour of play than a lifetime of conversation.

To host a party, contact Jude via her website.  For those who live in the San Luis Obispo area and would like a personal reading, visit Bambu Batu on Thursdays and Saturdays and Sundays for some insight and good conversation.  Each reading is $35 and includes a written explanation and photograph of your cards, and shorter readings are available on a sliding scale.  She also offers gift certificates for readings, a great idea for someone who wants to give something meaningful this holiday season without dealing with the clutter and and junk of buying “stuff”.

What can the Tarot Game tell you about yourself?

The text message simply read, “Come by the house tonight, we will be hosting two cycling tourists who are talking about menstrual cups”.  Not one to pass up a learning opportunity and a chance to make tasteless jokes about human anatomy, I headed over to meet my friend and the ladies in question for dinner and conversation.  Over the course of the evening, I was fortunate to meet Toni and Kaitlyn and listen to stories about their cycling adventures and discuss the wonders of sustainable menstrual products.

On their way through San Luis Obispo from Seattle, the duo pedaled hundreds of miles living on only $4 a day and the generosity of people they met along their route.  In the name of women’s health, environmental responsibility, cost-efficiency, and female empowerment, Toni and Kaitlyn have given away over 230 cups, taught women how to use their new piece of equipment, and encouraged others to share their enthusiasm by spreading the word.  Just yesterday, I received an email from them as a follow-up reiterating what they went over in their talk, troubleshooting tips, and other helpful resources.  These girls are truly an inspiration!

Over a lifetime, the average woman can spend upwards to $2,000 on single-use pads and tampons.  These disposable products create an enormous amount of trash from being tossed into the landfill as well as pollution/energy waste through growing, processing and bleaching the absorbent materials.  By contrast, the cups are made from latex and silicon, last for ten years, and cost around $35.  They catch rather than absorb moisture and do not leave fibers in the body or harbor the same amounts of bacteria as tampons (which can contribute to Toxic Shock Syndrome).  The cups do not need to be changed as frequently, and are easy to clean.  Most brands of menstrual cups are made by small companies which a nice change of pace from purchasing products from giant businesses that feed into the agro-industral complex.

Menstrual cups are at times a bit difficult to find, but can be ordered online or requested from your local drug store. Make your period less of a pain for the environment and your wallet by using a menstrual cup!

When you hear the name Nestle, you may imagine a cold winter night warmed by a steaming cup of hot chocolate, a blistering day soothed by the kiss of ice cream, or a hungry infant finding solace in a nurturing bottle of baby formula at 2am.  However, if you are an informed consumer like Annie, author of the blog PhD in Parenting, you see misguided and dangerously misleading ad campaigns, detrimental environmental practices, and socially unjust working conditions.  Since her first post in 2009 after attending a Nestle Family event at the company’s headquarters in California, Annie has been an advocate for transparency in Nestle’s operations and a supporter of a now 30-year-old-boycott of all of the conglomerate’s brands.

As one of the world’s largest food companies in the world, the conscious consumer may have to avoid a great deal of the supermarket shelf in order to take a stand against Nestle.  Why refuse a Butterfinger or pass up a Toll House cookie?  Here are a couple of things to keep in mind on your next shopping trip:

Nestle has been involved in union busting and denying the rights of workers to collectively bargain. The company has promoted misleading strategies that violate the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes, creating dangerous dependencies and on formula and health problems in poorer nations. Many of the brands source from suppliers that violate human rights including the use of child slaves and buying products from governments headed by violent dictators. The abuse and control of local water sources in bottling practices and the support of environmentally destructive agricultural methods. The marketing of unhealthy foods, especially towards children.

With a rap sheet that long, why spend your hard-earned pay check to support a company that encourages institutional corruption, human rights abuse, environmental degradation and poor health?  Instead, opt for fair-trade, organic brands or a farmers market.  Who knew that breastfeeding, purchasing local products and cooking a meal at home could be political statements?

It’s November here on the Central Coast, which means thousands of little winged tourists are beginning to stop by on their way south to overwinter in Mexico or rest in California’s warmer climate, escaping the northern chill.  Looking up into branches of  the eucalyptus and pine trees of the Pismo Beach Monarch Grove this month, you can start to see the hundreds of monarch butterflies flitting overhead, creating softly pulsing traffic patterns in the air. Towards nightfall, the butterflies cluster like big orange leaves in the canopy to keep warm, protect themselves from predators and resist winds that could possibly dislodge them.  The docents of the Grove (which officially opened to the public October 29) set up telescopes to give visitors clear views of the brightly colored insects and offer lectures about these extraordinary little creatures throughout their stay ending in February.

Located along Highway 1 on the Southern end of Pismo Beach inside the North Beach Campground, the colony of butterflies living there is the largest in the country, hosting an average of over 25,000 monarchs. As juveniles, the caterpillars feed on milkweed which makes them toxic and distasteful to most predators. Adults feed on the nectar of a variety of flowering plants, and drink little to no water during their migration. Once settled, they sip on dew or fresh water close to their roosting sites.

The butterflies return to the same group of trees each year, having migrated thousands of miles to reach their destination.    Generations arriving at their winter vacation home are different than the butterflies that started the journey, and how they orient themselves back to the same location each year is still a mystery. The monarchs typically live for about six weeks, meaning that many of the migrating creatures never see either their starting point up north nor their destination site down here. Once they reach their southern sanctuary, the winter generation enjoys a live span of about six months! In the spring they head north again, and the following generations resume the 6-week life span.

For directions and more information on the Pismo Monarch Grove, visit their website for details.  To learn more about the life cycle of the majestic monarch, visit the Grove’s FAQ page, or attend a talk in person!

The people at Big Dipper Wax Works of Seattle are crazy about honey bees, and for many good reasons.  Aside from being keystone species that pollinate a number of plants including the fruits and vegetables we consume, these hard working insects produce such miraculous substances as beeswax honey, propolis, royal jelly and bee pollen. Bees have complex codes of communication, are expert engineers, and master navigators.  It is no wonder that Big Dipper has such respect for the labor and amazing biology of the humble bee.  This ethic permeates the business, and is evident in the care and consideration they take when producing their candles.

Big Dipper sources its wax from beekeepers throughout the Pacific Northwest where crops contain the lowest levels of pesticides possible.  The wax Big Dipper uses is filtered by a natural clay  process that removes impurities while retaining color and aroma.  Depending on the the flowers the bees are pollinating, the candles can range in color from bright gold to dark brown.  Beeswax is naturally dripless and smokeless, allowing for a clean burn that produces negative ions that help to clear the air, instigate seratonin production, increase oxygen flow to the brain, and regulate the endocrine glands.  All dyes are eco-friendly and cruelty free.

Like a good hive, the Big Dipper Wax Works values a commitment to the community and the environment.  As  Green America Approved Business, the company values social responsibility and ecological awareness.  A total of 10% net profits from candle sales are donated to promote sustainable beekeeping and support local schools, community health and research organizations, animal shelters, and sports teams.  All of the materials used in making the candles are locally sourced, biodegradable and undergo no chemical processing.  Big Dipper recycles and reuses reuses shipping materials, uses minimal packaging that is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, encourages their customers to reuse their glass and tin containers by selling bulk refills, and composts organic matter.

Bambu Batu is proud to carry Big Dipper’s candles!  Choose from tapers, tea lights, pillars and garden candles that come with seeds and biodegradable pots!  Give the gift of warmth and light this holiday season with beeswax candles from a great company with a clean conscience.