Plastic revolutionized the world, and it still has its benefits today, but too much of a good thing has led to overflowing landfills and plastic islands the size of Texas in the oceans. Though plastic is still the material of choice for many products, bamboo is gaining ground as a sustainable, renewable material that is even better than plastic for many types of consumer goods.
The Problem with Plastic
Plastic is a wonderful alternative to metal, which takes a great deal of energy to mine, refine, and process. While it has had a significant effect on the world’s economy by making consumer goods more affordable, it causes a significant number of problems at the same time. Here are some ways plastic affects the world today:
- Everywhere you look, you see plastic bags, bottles, and other plastic bits littering roadways, oceans, beaches, and even forests.
- Health problems. Many plastics contain a compound known as bisphenol-A, more commonly known as BPA, which is a carcinogen. When used to store food and heated beyond a specific temperature, the BPA can leach into the product and cause health issues.
- Plastic isn’t biodegradable. In fact, some plastics may be around for 1000 years or more. On average, it takes 450 years for the standard plastic bottle to biodegrade.
- Most plastic is made from petroleum products, and petroleum is a byproduct of oil. All that refining leads to a significant amount of pollution in the air, which causes even more health problems. Climatologists believe that plastic manufacturing is a major contributor to global warming.
- Finally, there is new evidence suggesting that plastics give off a great deal of greenhouse gases as they decompose, which enter the atmosphere and trap heat, also contributing to global warming.
How Bamboo is a Better Option
Unlike plastic, which requires a great deal of processing and refining, bamboo only needs to be grown. It grows readily and quickly in many parts of the world (up to three feet a day!) and with today’s amazing agricultural techniques, it’s possible to grow panda-friendly bamboo (not part of their food source) that is easy to sustain and renew. It’s stronger than steel and more durable than many hardwoods, despite its lightweight nature. Bamboo is also easy to work with, and that makes it a great alternative to plastic for many of the products you use every single day. Bamboo can be used to make these products:
- Bath tissue. We all use bath tissue, and most of it is made from paper products. However, bamboo is more fibrous than even pine, which means it is perfect for creating a pulp that can be made into bath tissue.
- Americans buy (and throw away) billions of toothbrushes each year, and that’s a lot of plastic being tossed into landfills. Bamboo toothbrushes can reduce plastic dependency a great deal. The best part? It’s naturally antimicrobial!
- You can find just about any article of clothing imaginable in bamboo, whether it’s a t-shirt or a jacket. It’s soft and comfortable, and you don’t have to give it any special treatment. It’s the same as any other clothing you buy.
It’s unlikely that the world will ever get away from using plastic completely, but there’s little doubt that it will reduce its plastic consumption over time. For that to happen, however, manufacturers and merchants must offer alternatives that are user-friendly and safe. Fortunately, it seems that companies now more than ever are getting on the eco-friendly bandwagon, especially when it comes to using bamboo.