With its status as a rapidly renewable resource, bamboo is the golden child of the eco-friendly marketplace. In the kitchen, it's indispensable, forming the backbone of a myriad of products including cutting boards, utensils, dishware, and even textiles. Here's a roundup of some of our favorite products made with our favorite green material.
It's funny to think that just a few years ago, bamboo cutting boards were hard to come by. These days, the boards have taken their place as standard fare beside their wood and plastic peers. This material has endeared itself toall kinds of kitchen products, not to mention environmentalists, thanks to the plant's rapid growth and regeneration. Bamboo grows to a harvestable height in three to five years, as compared to decades for its tree counterparts, and it can regrow without replanting. It's also remarkably sturdy — 16 percent stronger than maple — yet gentler on knives than plastic. So while it holds up against daily chopping duties, it also resists deep gouges better than wood (and thus harbors less icky bacteria).
But bamboo is not indestructible, and it can split along its seams if not properly cared for. Curious as to how you can keep your bamboo cutting boards in tip-top shape? Read on to find out.
It's almost Earth Day, so chances are you've been hearing the word "eco" so much that it almost loses its meaning. But when you shop consciously, it's about more than just reading a label. Knowing how your fitness wear is made and where it comes from can be just as important as sourcing your meal at a restaurant.
The good news is that finding an eco-friendly fabric can also enhance your workout; it will be irritant-free, naturally breathable, and hypoallergenic, which can be just as important as knowing it's helping save the environment as well. Don't know the facts on popular sustainable fabrics? Here are a few exercise-friendly fabrics to look out for.
Eco-Friendly: Not only is bamboo a renewable resource, but it contains a substance that makes it antimicrobial — perfect for sweaty fitness clothes! Growing it can be less impactful on the environment, since fertilizers and pesticides aren't needed to help it grow exponentially or replenish itself once harvested.
Eco-Enemy? There's the growing problem of irresponsible, forest-clearing bamboo farming, but a larger issue lies in bamboo's conversion into that soft, moisture-wicking material that we love to wear. Depending on the manufacturer, making bamboo fabric may involve a chemical cooking process known as hydrolysis-alkalization using lye and carbon disulfide; these chemicals can lead to headache, fatigue, and nerve damage in those who are overexposed to them. Also, bamboo must be bleached several times throughout the manufacturing process.
What You Can Do. Make sure you know where the brand sources its fabric and if the manufacturer uses chemical processing to make the fabric (REI, for example, makes sure to not label chemically processed bamboo products as eco-friendly). Keep in mind that the more earth-friendly mechanical processing (extracting fibers manually from crushed bamboo treated with biological enzymes) is also more expensive, but worth it.
Check out the pros and cons of more eco-friendly fabrics after the break.
Are you down with the bamboo gadget and accessory trend? Now is the perfect time to get on board, not only because Earth Day is just a few short days away, but because there's a new laptop case on the market that promises eco-friendly protection and style. Called Silva ($179), this case wraps your 13- and 15-inch MacBooks in carmel bamboo and hand-oiled leathers, so you can tote your machine to and from work with a smaller (eco) footprint.
On the inside, you'll find a lining of wool felt (a favorite among independent designers), and the case itself weighs about two pounds. Look forward to more model sizes and an iPad version coming soon! Want to get a better look? Check out the other images in the gallery.
Portland-based accessory manufacturer Grove first made a name for itself with beautiful laser-etched bamboo iPhone cases, and it's now applying the same gorgeous style to the iPad 2.
I'm loving its collection of beautiful iPad 2 skins. Starting at just $29, they are simple and sustainable, crafted from bamboo and available in a light natural bamboo color or darker amber, available either plain or laser-etched. Choose from predesigned cases or even design your own for the ultimate eco-personalization.
You can preorder your skin now; it'll ship in two-three weeks. Click through the slideshow to check out a few of the available designs.
Choose from one of ten different laser-etched designs, a variety of bezel colors to suit your taste, and even download matching wallpaper to finish off the look. But be prepared to shell out some serious dough for these babies —prices start at $99.
The impact-resistant cases have connector and camera openings, allowing full use of your phone while in the case. Plus, for every tree used in production, the manufacturer replants 100 trees in conjunction with the Arbor Day Foundation and US Forestry Service.
Not to be confused with our wide selection of wood products, these bamboo products may look like they're derived from the pine tree family, when in fact they are in an entirely different league of their own. Half part tech accessory, half part eco-chic, all of these products have one thing in common — they all feature some bamboo in their construction. Whether you're looking for something that's less plastic, and more natural, my little list will help you find some back-to-bamboo-basic items.
Instead, check out the eco friendly and geek chic Bamboo Charging Station that has been marked down from $46 to $30. Cool thing is, the station can live on your desk, or hang on your wall to maximize space and create a modern decorative feature on your wall, even when your gadgets aren't being juiced.
Besides being earth-conscious, the set is impossibly beautiful, light years more attractive than those metal and plastic laptop stands you find in stores.
Sadly, green is slightly pricey here, as the stand itself costs $69, and the mouse $39. It's not all bad though, when you think of the benefits.