Green Living: Bamboo Studio Dinnerware

May 13, 2013

Bamboo, one of the fastest-growing plants on earth, is used in construction, as a material for furniture, in the production of textiles, and to make products ranging from musical instruments to fishing rods. Bamboo is highly renewable because it is so fast-growing – up to a meter per day! In addition to absorbing carbon dioxide, bamboo releases 35% more oxygen than an equivalent stand of hardwood trees. Additionally, no fertilizer, pesticides or herbicides are typically needed in growing bamboo.

Bamboo Studio, a California-based company, uses bamboo to produce a large catalog of dinnerware products. Bamboo Studio takes advantage of the sustainable features of the plant to create a green alternative to paper, styrofoam and plastic dinnerware.

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Bamboo Studio offers several different product lines. Their disposable products are 100% biodegradable, but can be reused several times if washed properly. The disposable products are made from the sheath of the bamboo plant, the protective covering on newly emerging bamboo shoots. This sheath is not usually used, but Bamboo Studio cleans, boils and laminates the sheaths before shaping them into disposable dinnerware. I was able to sample Bamboo Studio’s small hors d’oevres dishes, skewers, and bamboo swords, and think that Bamboo Sheath products would make an excellent alternative to the paper and plastic typically used in food service and for catered events.

They also produce a line of reusable BambooWare Products, for use in the home. I tried a plate, cup and bowl made of this material, and was impressed by its smooth texture and sturdiness. To make the products, Bamboo Studio grinds the fiber of five-year or older bamboo plants into a fine powder, then molds them into dinnerware. All of these products are FDA-approved, and safe for dishwashers. Bamboo Studio’s forks, spoons and knives are made from the bamboo plant itself, which makes for an excellent alternative to plastic utensils. The plates, bowls and cups they offer are also available in a number of colors, and can be custom printed.

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Production of dinnerware from traditional materials uses a tremendous amount of energy, and these products often are not biodegradable. Styrofoam is commonly used to make plates and cups, but it does not biodegrade, and can remain in landfills indefinitely. Plastic utensils, plates and cups also take a long time to degrade, and are products of the petroleum industry. Even paper plates have tremendous environmental impacts; study by Canadian scientist Martin Hocking showed that the production of a paper plate is as fossil fuel-intensive as that of a Styrofoam plate.

“Fortunately,” writes Bamboo Studio, “there is a great alternative to the age old question of “Paper or Plastic.”” Bamboo may truly be the dinnerware product of the future!

To learn more about Bamboo Studio’s dinnerware, you can visit their website at http://www.ecobambooware.com/

-Sharon Hartzell

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Welcome to Hark Upon the Green! This blog is a shared space for members of the sustainability community at William & Mary to write about sustainability topics on and beyond. If you would like to contribute to the blog, contact Madeleine Boel, Committee on Sustainability Web Assistant, at mgboel@email.wm.edu.
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