Posts Tagged ‘plastic’

Zero waste bamboo spork

Did you know that 380 million tons of plastic were produced in 2018? That brings the total quantity of plastic up to about 6.5 billion tons since its introduction in the mid 1950s. Yeah, that’s a lot of dixie cups.

A PLASTIC APOCALYPSE

Generous estimates say that first world countries manage to recycle about 25 percent of their plastic waste. If it’s disposed of responsibly, the remaining waste should end up in the landfill.

But I would encourage you to visit your local landfill and see for yourself just how responsible it is. Like the holocaust museums in Germany, they are something every citizen of this planet should be aware of.

Civil society has found a way to make it look like our garbage simply disappears at the end of every week. But that’s not actually how it works. Talk about burying the truth.

Meanwhile, we know for certain that astronomical quantities of plastic and packaging are ending up elsewhere. How do we know that? Because there are multiple islands of litter floating around the sea, and they are larger than some countries. And I don’t mean Malta or Liechtenstein. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, though difficult to measure, is at least the size of Texas or France, and some estimates say many times larger.

But the plastics don’t just sit there, floating about harmlessly like a few olives in a salty martini. If only.

For several decades now, birds and marine life—not trained to be on the watch for harmful particulates—have been consuming this toxic debris at a brisk and predatory pace. Biologists estimate that 90 percent of birds now contain particles of plastic. And by 2050 there will likely be more plastic in the seas than fish. Let me say that again: More plastic than fish.

URGENT ACTION NEEDED

You would have to be numb and heartless not to recognize this as the global crisis that it is. And I would have to be somewhat naive and Polyannaish if I told you not to panic. By all means, if there were ever a time to panic, this is it.

We should be panicking in the streets. We should be panicking at the mall. We should be panicking in classrooms. We should be panicking in the halls of Congress.

Perhaps you feel helpless. Perhaps you don’t think there’s anything you can do as a single individual that could make a difference. But we need to do more than just panic. And we can. These ginormous garbage patches are nothing more than a conglomeration of single individual pieces, and we as individuals need to start doing something. Now.

REDUCE YOUR WASTE

A lot of people are talking about zero waste these days, and that’s a good thing. But don’t be put off by the fact that you will never actually be able to reduce your waste down to nothing. The point is, there are dozens of simple things you can do to drastically reduce your waste.

Two of the biggest sources of waste are packaging and single-use plastics like cups, straws and utensils. And these are some very easy things to scale back on with just a minimal adjustment of your personal habits.

REUSABLE BAGS & CONTAINERS

We’ve known for years about bringing our own shopping bags to the grocery store. This is basically square one. It might take a few trips to get into the habit, but your best bet is simply to keep some extra bags in your car at all times.

Nowadays, you can find flimsy tote bags just about anywhere. But if your goal is to reduce your waste, then you’ll want heavy duty canvas (non-plastic!) bags that are going to last. Check out this set of three cotton canvas grocery bags from Amazon. Or this set of organic canvas and jute tote bags.

Shopping bags are the first step. Now what about produce bags? If you’re still putting your bananas into a disposable plastic bag at the grocery store, I need to tell you something: STOP! Please. Bananas already come individually wrapped. Nature’s packaging is perfect. Don’t mess with it.

But you might still want to bag your grapes, your lettuce and your broccoli. You could easily go through 5 or 10 of those bags every week, and they disintegrate quickly so they’re almost impossible to reuse. But you can find lightweight reusable bags for that too. A set of 9 cotton mesh produce bags can eliminate the need for hundreds of disposable bags each year, in your household alone!

When you’re really ready to step up your game, you can start bringing your own jars and containers for the bulk dry goods section, for pasta, grains, cereals and so on. When you think about it, almost every single thing you eat comes in a package, but it doesn’t have to, and it sure doesn’t have to be a single-use package.

More and more grocery stores are expanding their bulk sections and zero waste stores are increasingly offering a wide range of bulk goods and cleaning products. Just bring a container and refill it with granola, honey, shampoo, tooth paste, you name it.

I’m partial to glass jars, and a set of 6 32-oz. jars will definitely get you started on converting your pantry into something closer to zero waste. For smaller servings I usually just save and re-use old jelly jars.

REUSABLE UTENSILS

When it comes to disposable living, one of my biggest pet peeves has to be the single-use plastic utensil industrial complex. Throwaway forks, throwaway containers, and my greatest nemesis, throwaway straws.

Make a habit of keeping a set of bamboo utensils in your car, in your purse, in your desk, or all of the above. Our family has been using re-usable To-Go Ware utensil sets for years and we love them. They are durable, easy to clean, and come in a nice carrying case that includes fork, spoon, knife and a pair of chopsticks. They also make sets for the kids, ideal for the lunch box.

But for true minimalism, you have to love the bamboo spork. The pinnacle of efficiency, with its sleek design and low profile, nothing can rival the functionality of the bamboo spork. You can even find them at Bambu Batu with a handsome cork carrying case. And yes, they make perfect gifts. More sporks means less waste, so give generously!

Finally, stop throwing away those pesky plastic straws after one use. Instead, you can order a set of 8 stainless steel straws that basically last forever. The set even comes with nice little brush keep the straws clean.

You might ask, with 8 billion people, what difference can I make with my one little straw and my one little spork? But if 8 billion people all ask the same question, and come back with the right answer, then of course we can make a difference. So go ahead, get started today, and be a part of the solution.

Learn more: For more tips on earth conscious consumption, check out the following links.

The best zero waste shops in California The best bamboo towels The best bamboo sheets Bamboo Q & A

Disclosure: Bambu Batu is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program that helps pay for the maintenance of the site. When items are purchased through our links, Bambu Batu receives a small commission at no additional cost to the customer. It’s a free and easy way for you to support a small, family-owned business like ours.

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.

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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