Bamboo might just save the world

Bamboo is popular in Asia not only for the beauty of its forests but also because of its versatility and usability as a raw material.

Plastic waste is one of the most serious environmental problems that we are facing. The massive amount of plastics we use and end up throwing away are destroying ecosystems. Fortunately, bamboo is emerging as a very promising solution to limiting our plastic waste output.

Talk about the answer being under our noses. Bamboo has been widely-used in Asia since time immemorial. Its combination of light weight and strength, and resiliency have made it a popular alternative to wood for certain applications. But as it turns out, bamboo is also an excellent alternative to plastic.

Plastic bags make up a significant portion of our plastic wastes. If we can stop the use of plastic bags, this could be a massive victory for the environment. To this end, many countries have banned the use of plastic bags and encourage the use of alternatives like recycled-paper bags and reusable totes. Unfortunately, the current mainstream alternatives are not really much more friendly to the environment. The production of paper bags generates big carbon footprints, not to mention the cutting down of trees. Even recycled-paper requires processes which not only generates carbon but also uses chemicals that often end up in the environment.

This is where bamboo comes in and outclasses plastics and all other alternatives. Several species of bamboo grows and matures very quickly. This means that bamboo can be farmed and serve as renewable and sustainable resource. As an added bonus, bamboo can be planted even on depleted soil, where it returns nutrients to the soil and protects against erosion. With bamboo, it is basically hitting three birds with one stone.

The uses for bamboo goes beyond plastic bags. Plenty of plastic items that we are using today can be replaced and be made more environmentally-friendly by replacing it with bamboo. That the bamboo toothbrush for example.

bamboo toothbrushes
Bamboo toothbrushes from PremiumSwede are biodegradable and manufactured using minimal energy.

If you follow your dentist’s recommendations, you will replace your toothbrush every three months. That is equivalent to four toothbrushes every year, at the very least. If a toothbrush weighs 20 grams on average, a normal person would be producing 80 grams of plastic waste from toothbrush every year. That may not seem much, if you consider the fact that there are 7.5 billion people on the planet. And if even only have of that number follows their dentist, we are still looking at over 280,000 metric tons of plastic waste every year.

This 280,000 metric tons of plastic waste can be greatly reduced or even completely eliminated if we have an alternative to plastic. Fortunately, we do now. Bamboo toothbrushes are increasingly becoming popular. While you won’t find them yet displayed en masse at your local grocery or drugstore, they are just as accessible through online shopping sites like Amazon and such. The toothbrush is just another testament to the versatility and usability of bamboo as raw material.

The solution to plastic waste depends on one thing: finding a biodegradable and renewable alternative. In many applications, bamboo can do just that. Now it is up to us to support products designed to alleviate one of the most serious problems facing our environment.