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.

Swan Sisters Tea

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 <>.

“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?

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!

Boycott Nestle Badge

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?

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.