You may have seen recently that from April next year, plastic straws, cotton buds and drink stirrers will be banned in the UK. The government hopes this will reduce our environmental impact.
We currently use nearly 5 billion plastic straws, more than 300 million plastic stirrers and almost 2 billion cotton buds with plastic stems every year. These items are often used for a few minutes, but take hundreds of years to break down.
Although this ban is only for a fraction of single-use plastics, it’s a step in the right direction for the UK and sustainable replacements are being pushed out and created every day. Bamboo Grove have stated that a particularly great replacement is bamboo:
1. It’s a Renewable Resource
Bamboo can be harvested every 1-5 years, unlike hardwoods like oak which take at least 40 years to mature before they can be harvested. Using Bamboo instead of hardwoods means we can reduce the 1 million acres of forests that are lost each week worldwide due to deforestation.
2. Bamboo Absorbs Greenhouse Gases
It absorbs carbon dioxide and releases 35% more oxygen into the atmosphere than an the same amount of hardwoods.
3. Grows Fast
Some species of bamboo grow more than 3ft every day, the fastest on the planet. When harvested, it grows a new shoot without additional planting or cultivation.
4. No Waste
Almost every part of the bamboo plant can be utilised to make a wide variety of products, like soil-enriching mulch, clothes and furniture.
5. Suitable Replacement of Wood
Bamboo can replace wood for materials and products such as building materials, paper, furniture, charcoal, flooring and much more. Bamboo fibres are also stronger than wood fibres and are less likely to warp from changing atmospheric conditions.
6. No Need for Fertilizer, Pesticides or Herbicides
Unlike most cash crops, bamboo doesn’t need any agricultural chemicals to grow and thrive.
7. Economic Development
In less developed countries, the production and the manufacturing of bamboo products provides job opportunities in areas that need social and economic stability.
8. Bamboo Grows in a Variety of Conditions
Bamboo can grow in dry regions where there are droughts which other crops can’t survive and since the bamboo roots are left in place after harvesting, it preserves vital moisture in the soil. Bamboo thrives in a wide range of climates, from wetlands to the mountains.
We can see that taking advantage of a sustainable and fast growing plant such as bamboo can have a big impact on the environment and we can still maintain our modern lifestyles by making swaps, starting with something as small as switching out plastic cotton buds for the bamboo replacement.