Archive for October 2012 | Monthly archive page


Here at Bambu Batu, we figure we know bamboo pretty well.  Yet, even we were surprised to see the incredible gadgets out there that are incorporating bamboo into their design.  Able to be as versatile as the minds behind these beautiful and objects, bamboo is the perfect choice for durability, looks, and sustainability.

-With some species growing at a rate of almost 3 feet per day, bamboo is a hard-working plant. With Lexon’s line of renewable office products, you can show the same growth potential as the super-grass! The collection offers a number of stylish choices for the workplace, including pens, solar-powered calculators, crank-powered AM/FM radios, and LCD clocks, all fashioned from bamboo.

-Want to cruise in sustainable style?  Check out Antoine Fritsch’s T20 Bamboo Bike.  The cycle features and electric motor, and can reach speeds of up to 21 miles per hour with a range of 24 miles. Acceleration is provided by the rider, who pushes off the ground to kick-start the bike. After a small initial amount of effort, the T20 is ready to zip you around town!  Despite looking a bit delicate at first glance, anyone familiar with bamboo will recognize that the flexibility and toughness of the frame is not to be underestimated.

-Let bamboo brighten up your day with Green Tuna Design’s bamboo lamp. The style of the piece is reminiscent of craftsman architecture, and has a lovely natural finish that almost glows when lit. Powered by an LED bulb, the light helps save on energy while looking good in the process.

– If you are a fan of bamboo, why not have a fan made out of bamboo?  The Haiku Satori ceiling fan possesses blades from the lightweight grass, and comes equipped with an infrared remote control to modulate speed.  Incredibly efficient, at its lowest setting, the fan uses half the energy of an 8W CFL bulb.  The Electronically Communicated motor with digital inverter allows for amazing savings in energy, consuming 60-80% less energy than a traditional ceiling fan.

– No gadget list is complete without accessories for your computer.  Take a look at Impecca’s hand-carved KBB500 bamboo keyboard and mouse.  Helping to reduce the amount of electronic waste entering our landfill and polluting our environments, the set also adds a natural aesthetic to modern electronics. The mouse is a standard three-button optical model, and the keyboard is your average 104-key layout.



Bambu Batu is excited to welcome Poppy Soap Co. to the store!  Handcrafted in Los Osos, the soap is made from certified organic ingredients, essential oils, and are free of petroleum, animal products, artificial fragrances and dyes. In addition to supporting healthy skin, Poppy Soap Co. also helps to sustain a healthy community by donating one bar for each one purchased to a local women’s shelter.  Their Bar-for-Bar program is a personal and heartfelt way to show kindness to victims of domestic abuse and their children.

Founder Lindy LaRoche came to crafting soap by way of a career in medical sales.  After her son was born, she decided to leave the sales field in order to pursue a passion where she could live mindfully and sustainably, and give back to the community.  Through Poppy Soap Co., she hopes to spread the holistic lifestyle where her products can help heal both the body and the planet naturally.  We are enthusiastic to work with such a wonderful individual and carry her fantastic soaps here at Bambu Batu!

Of all of the ingredients hiding in cosmetics these days, from parabens to phthalates, you may never have guessed that many of your favorite shades of lipstick, shadows, and blushes contained bugs.  Yes, that’s right, our good old six-legged friends from the insect world are widely used to produce carmine, or a bright red color extracted from their tiny little bodies. And you’ll find it nearly everywhere, except on the cruelty-free shelves of Bambu Batu, where we now carry All Good Lips SPF18 Beauty Tints, the newest product from Elemental Herbs, which is 100% carmine free (relying instead on mica for coloring) and boasts the same healing properties as their organic lip balms, made with five medicinal herbs.

The cochineal (Dactylopius coccus) bug is a scale insect of the suborder Sternorrhyncha, a parasite that lives primarily on the nutrients and moisture of cacti.  The red color used for dye is known as carminic acid, and is manufactured by the cochineal bug as a defense against predators. To prepare carmine for use in the cosmetic or food industry, the powdered insects are boiled in either ammonia or sodium carbonate, filtered to remove the parts that cannot be dissolved, and added to a clear salt solution to create a red aluminum salt.

The insects can also be boiled with water and treated with alum, cream of tartar, stannous chloride, or potassium hydrogen oxalate to create a salt.  We know this salt as “carmine lake”, “crimson lake”, or “natural red 4”,  and it can be found everywhere from yogurt and Jell-O to the products we apply to our faces. There are some who are allergic to the dye, and these individuals must avoid foods and cosmetics with lake colors for risk of developing anaphylactic shock, asthma, or hives.

The dye itself has been used in Central America since the 15th century to color fabrics, but did not become an international export until the period  of  colonization beginning in the 1700s.  The demand for cochineal dye fell during the 19th century as synthetic dyes began to take the place of naturally produced coloring agents.  Currently, cochineal dyes are sought as alternatives to man-made chemicals, although many are wary about allergic reactions and killing 70,000 bugs to make one pound of dye.  In the US, carmine is approved by the FDA as safe to use, but must be clearly labeled on packaging as an ingredient.

Now that you know where that lovely red hue is made, would you still wear that favorite shade of rouge or drink that bottle of pink lemonade?  Aside from health concerns, what are the ethical implications of carmine in cosmetics and foodstuffs?