Lifestyle

How Eco-Friendly Are Bamboo Products?

Bamboo products are replacing plastic wherever they can.
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Bamboo products are becoming popular alternatives to plastic products. Bamboo straws and bamboo toothbrushes are just some examples of the growing trend. It seems to be the most sustainable alternative to plastic compared with other materials such as glass and steel. It is often marketed as a safe and eco-friendly alternative to synthetic products such as plastic and nylon because it grows fast and has anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-microbial properties.

But is bamboo safe or eco-friendly? It depends on the product you are using.

Bamboo Straws

Pros: The straws are biodegradable.

Cons: Very short lifespan.

Bamboo straws are becoming popular alternatives not only to plastic straws, but also to metal straws. They look natural and seem a lot safer for drinking compared with metal straws, which could scrape your gums or the roof of your mouth.

But don’t believe every marketing ploy attached to bamboo products. No, bamboo straws are not naturally anti-bacterial because these are dead pieces of bamboo stalks. They no longer produce enzymes that fight bacteria.

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As a result, your bamboo straws will experience wear and tear every time you use it, even if its cured or polished. Food particles will also get stuck in the microscopic nooks and crannies on its interior, so that’s a cause of concern. Bacteria will eventually grow on these spots, so it’s very important to clean your straws immediately after use.

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Bamboo Wipes

Pros: The wipes feel like cotton, very soft and gentle on the face.

Cons: It still comes with plastic packaging.

Sanicare has come out with a special kind of wipes made from 100-percent bamboo fiber. Unlike majority of the wipes that use synthetic fiber, bamboo wipes are gentler on the skin and don't feel itchy. You’ll also feel less guilty when you dispose of each pull, knowing that they will decompose in due time. But, though they are biodegradable, don’t flush them down your toilet. 

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Bamboo Toothbrushes

Pros: They’re relatively cheap.

Cons: Germs and plastic bristles.

The nightmare of every germophobe is touching wooden surfaces that have been wet for a while, including these types of bamboo products. The mouth is already a notorious breeding ground of all sorts of bacteria, and you don’t need a bamboo stick to collect these and serve as another petri dish. There’s a reason why bamboo chopsticks are disposable. While the shaft of the toothbrush is bamboo, its bristles are still plastic. It’s a nope on this one.

Bamboo Bedsheets

Pros: It’s softer than cotton.

Cons: It’s expensive.

Bamboo bedsheets are some of the softest and smoothest sheets you will ever have. It’s hard to believe that bamboo can produce such heavenly texture. When you buy your bamboo bedsheet, make sure it is made from 100 percent bamboo fiber, so that it is really eco-friendly (no microplastics from synthetic fibers). Bamboo sheets are expensive, with prices ranging from P6,000 to P8,000 for a sheet set. 

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Mario Alvaro Limos
Features Editor, Esquire Philippines
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