Archive for August 2012 | Monthly archive page

Kale for Marriage Equality

What do leafy green vegetables have to do with gay marriage? That’s what people are asking when they hear that Bambu Batu is sending $5 to a pro-marriage-equality organization every time they sell a bamboo t-shirt emblazoned with the parody slogan “KALE: It’s what’s for dinner.”

The connection can be traced back to the Baptist-owned fast-food chain Chick-fil-A, based in Atlanta, Georgia. Last fall, Chick-fil-A went after independent shirt maker Bo Muller-Moore and charged him with copyright infringement for selling hand-printed t-shirts that say “Eat More Kale.” The junk food juggernaut claims that this slogan is a direct violation of its own motto, “Eat mor chikin” (scrawled by cows). Muller-Moore refused to comply with their order to cease and desist, and a legal drama has ensued.

As an avid kale enthusiast himself, Bambu Batu owner Fred Hornaday was disappointed to learn of Muller-Moore’s harassment by corporate bullies. But when it recently came to light that Chick-fil-A had also been donating millions of dollars to organizations fighting same-sex marriage, Hornaday, a self-described human rights enthusiast, had no choice but to cry “fowl!”

Bambu Batu, an all-bamboo store based in San Luis Obispo, CA, specializes in ethically produced goods and natural fiber clothing and holds social responsibility as a top priority in its business model. The family-owned eco-boutique already has a series of original shirt designs addressing issues from clean energy to spiritual awakening, and this month Bambu Batu is releasing its own pro-kale message, hand-printed locally on 70% bamboo and 30% organic cotton.

Moved by Chick-fil-A’s saga of unapologetic tastelessness, Hornaday has decided that with this product it’s not enough to simply send a mindful message on a natural fiber t-shirt. So with every shirt sold, Bambu Batu is sending five dollars to the pro-marriage equality organization of the customer’s choice, or to MEUSA if no preference is expressed.

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.  So it goes for antiques, and now so too for human waste.  Why let a good source of energy go literally down the toilet?  Aside from recycling possible sources of electricity, new  technology saves sewage from contaminating waterways and breeding illness and helps conserve water. With 860 billion gallons of of sewage and contaminated rainwater making its way into our waterways every year, the innovations from these forward-thinking engineers, green-builders, and scientists, are becoming more and more valuable contributions to issues of global health and infrastructure.

Poop and Paddle-  Adam Katzman, a former New Jersey suburban dweller, now calls a houseboat home.  The off-the-grid floating residence sails down the Gowanus Canal in New York.  Located in Brooklyn, the canal is known one of the most polluted waterways in the United States.  Thankfully, Katzman can sail true knowing that his waste processing system makes sure that he is not sullying his watery neighborhood.  By creating a “constructed wetlands” aboard a separate structure, his floating toilet uses bioremediation to clean the water that runs through the contraption.  It uses rainwater catchments to flush,a holding tank that utilizes anaerobic digestion , wetland plants and gravel to filter urine and fecal matter.  Water eventually irrigates a group of planter boxes and is evaporated back into the clouds as clean H20, ready to fall again onto the roof of the “Poo and Paddle” as precipitation.  Each flush makes its way through the whole setup every 30 days.

Reinvent the Toilet- The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has long been interested in making a positive difference in the developing world.  Among major concern is the lack of access for adequate sanitation that nearly 2.6 billion of the world’s population cannot afford to install.  In an effort to encourage collaboration, the Foundation awarded eight universities with grants to design toilets that use minimal amounts of water, use waste as a form of potential energy, and could be distributed within the next 2-4 years.  The top prize of $100,000 was awarded to a team from Caltech for their solar-powered apparatus.  Electrical power is produced from solar cells atop an outdoor stall and from the hydrogen gas produced by decomposing waste collected in an electrochemical reactor.  Hydrogen can be stored in fuel cells and saved for low light conditions.  Recovered water is treated through the operation of the toilet, and is used to flush.

Do you own a composting toilet?  How do you let your poo work for you?


A giant astronaut lives only yards away from Bambu Batu in the heart of Mission Plaza in downtown San Luis Obispo.  The Moon Tree, a coast redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) was planted as a 55-inch tall seedling just upstream from the Broad Street Bridge near Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa on July 30, 1976.

The majestic tree began its life as a seedling stuffed into a cylinder taken on the NASA/USFS mission to the lunar surface in 1971.  As a part of crew member Stuart Roosa’s personal kit, the seeds joined others that were plucked from their earthly homes around the country, and launched into space aboard Apollo 14.  After returning to their home planet, they were donated to the USFS and allowed to germinate.  Most of the seeds bequeathed to the Placerville, CA  and the Gulfport,  MI stations sprouted successfully, and the USFS collected between 420 and 450 saplings from seeds and cuttings after a few years.  They were planted in locations across the US as a part of the nation’s 1976 bicentennial celebration.

Most of the species of trees, predominantly sourced from southern and western parts of the country, were grown alongside normal saplings as a control.  After decades of observation, there have been no recordings of discernible differences between the Moon Trees and their counterparts.  Nevertheless, San Luis Obispo is proud to have a living relic of the space age in the heart of town.


Artist Jeff Dah-Yue Shi of the Dragonfly Design Center has a bright idea for bamboo. Literally.  His modular LED and bamboo veneer lights can be used as a building material that can transform flat walls into geometric mosaics.  Both energy efficient and sustainable, the tessellated patterns take advantage of interlocking pieces to create  a visually stunning, Escheresque composite. The panels are composed of a LED source at the base, tempered glass placed over the base to hold the structure together, and a bamboo veneer to filter the light and create a warm, earthy glow.  Aside from being a creative approach to interior decoration, the panels become substitutes for bulky conventional fixtures.

The innovative execution of flat interior lighting garnered Shi the Taiwan Design Center’s gold pin design award in 2011.  Also a renowned jewelry and product designer, Shi graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology and has worked as an in-house designer for Harry Winston.  After leaving the world of high-end jewelry, he began to collaborate with 3D animators, winning the IF Communication Design Award in 2008 for his video work.  Shi was also given the  prestigious Red Dot Design Award in 2010 for his sustainable bamboo furniture that helped to save Taiwan’s heritage craft industry.

Here at Bambu Batu, we salute Jeff Dah Yue-Shi for bringing bamboo to the forefront of modern style!

Gira Dora Washer

When doing a load of laundry, make sure your conscience is as clean as your duds.  In order to save water and energy, some enterprising companies are manufacturing electricity-free washers.  Intended for developing nations, environmentally concerned citizens, and off-the-grid living, these simple machines are efficient and inexpensive ways to care for clothing and the planet.

GiraDora Washer- At only $40, the GiraDora washer is a pedal-powered, portable machine that cleans and spin dries clothing.  Water and clothing are added to the plastic tub, and the lid doubles as a seat while the user sits and operates the spring-loaded foot pedal.  Currently in the prototype phase, the GiraDora is being field-tested in South America as a means of alleviating physical and economic stress among the lower income citizens.

The Laundry Pod- Using only 5 gallons of water and needing no electricity, the Laundry Pod is stylish enough for an apartment, but convenient enough for outdoor use.  Costing around $100, the machine uses a hand crank to agitate clothing and spin away excess moisture after draining.   The whole process takes less than ten minutes.  Instead of spending up to several dollars a load at a laundromat or compromising limited living space with a bulky contraption, the Laundry Pod can be moved and easily stored away.

The Wonder Wash-  Capable of handling up to 5lbs at a time, the Wonder Wash costs about $45.  By using the pressure built up by the expansion of the hot water added the drum, detergent is forced through the fabric at high speed, cleaning laundry in minutes.  Small and portable, the machine actually works faster than its bulky, electric counterparts.



For students and starving artists, it is difficult to find quality materials without breaking the bank.  Not only can hunting for the perfect component for a project be an exercise in frustration, purchasing new items can also put a strain on both the planet and the wallet.

Established in 1976 to provide materials for art teachers in the San Francisco Public School system, SCRAP (Scrounger’s Center for Reusable Art Parts) is the Bay Area’s oldest creative reuse center.  For over 30 years, the non-profit has supplied artists, educators, and scroungers with items rescued from their fate as landfill clutter.  Currently residing in a warehouse provided by the SFUSD, SCRAP houses over 5,000 square feet of wood, metal, glass, fabric, images, plastic, beads, buttons, toys, and nearly anything you could possibly need to complete a masterpiece.  In exchange for a place to store their “art parts” and hold workshops, the program donates its services to the community organizations, teachers, and parents working within the school district.  Sustained by the money raised from selling materials, SCRAP is able to offer free item pickup, low-cost classes, and school field trips.

Aside from their work promoting arts and culture, SCRAP has also had a positive impact on the environment.  By turning trash into treasure, the organization diverts over 200 tons of waste from the dump each year.  Through “creative reuse”, artists transform the worthless into the wonderful, adding value and meaning to what was formerly seen as junk.

Start a SCRAP where you live, and take back your trash!


The Earth is a complex, dynamic organism that is constantly transforming with the rhythms of the Universe.  For the past 40 years, the Landsat satellite has been capturing images of the world’s changing landscapes, covering the same area every 16 days.  The program was launched in 1972 as a joint venture between NASA and the US Geological Survey in an effort to collect “remote sensing” information.  A recent story by Treehugger explains how Landsat, in collaboration with Google’s Earth Engine, is compiling trillions of images taken over the decades to be used free of charge.

It is hoped that scientists, governments, and independent researches will be able to take advantage of the data, helping to solve problems such as deforestation, estimating biomass and carbon levels, and mapping unexplored and roadless areas.  Google and Landsat have already released a video detailing the project, as well as fascinating time-lapse pieces.  Among some of the most interesting subjects include Las Vegas’ urban explosion, the destruction of the Amazonian rainforest, and drying of the Aral Sea.

Landsat has already been involved with a number of projects that aim to devise solutions to some of the globe’s most perplexing problems through the use of standardized scientific data.  From watching how nations control and utilize water resources to studying the effects of climate change on vegetation and population, our survival may just be getting a little help from someone watching from above.