The factory is up and running, albeit very inefficiently laments a native Keralan turned fortune 500 CEO turned self-help writer (who happened to be touring around with us, viewing the facilities). He ran Phillips, the appliance/TV company and quit after working to outsource production of Phillips products – and seeing the negative effects his work was having locally and globally. He explained to me the Indian mindset that he came from: “Indians are not thinking of the future -besides marriage and home construction. The mindset in village is: let’s pay off today, lets enjoy today, then we will worry about tomorrow.” He offered his consultant services to URAVU on his visit home next year, to help increase productivity in the factory.
Uravu sells bamboo crafts within India and demand is high for the quality handmade products. This is only one aspect of the Bamboo Village. The next phase is a large guesthouse (Completion Goal: Dec 2013)- being built with – you guessed it – bamboo. This will house tourists – primarily groups and families, however dorms may be available for backpackers. Currently there is a home stay program that Romarie and I enjoyed. We stayed comfortably in Mary’s families house, experiencing the day to day – even the early morning noises from the chickens (one of which we ate for dinner), and even the family scuffles. Half of the cost went to Mary (money is given to the woman of the household, who runs the homestay), and half is reinvested into the community through › Continue reading
The mission at Bamboo Village is to preserve a way of life (agriculture-based) in the face of a changing world where local village economies are subject to global economic changes. Much more than that – it is to create something for this area to live sustainably and healthily and to prevent brain drain; to keep young people there, rather than running off to the city to work as a tech customer service representative. URAVU meaning “Spring” or “source of life”, was started in 1996 by a group of Indians who had met in college and were politically active who wanted to help make a change (fun fact Kerala is the only state in India that democratically voted a Communist Government). When I pressed, Sivaraaj pin pointed the two main reasons for starting this work here – to break the caste system and to address environmental concerns that were coming about at the time. I asked him what changes he has seen since starting, and he said that “we have gotten women out of the home, and we have been a pacifier for the religious tension that boiled over a few years ago.” He indicates that the organization has gained a lot of respect for hiring all types of people (all religions) especially tribal people and women, and helping the community in an › Continue reading
Not long ago, my sister embarked on an extended traveling adventure with the goal of experiencing science in a variety of cultures to develop new educational curriculum in sustainability. This 3 part article series is about her experiences in India. Enjoy!
I had been in India 3 weeks before I discovered Bamboo Village. Prior to leaving, I had read in the Sivananda Ashram copy of the Lonely Planet that the Wayanad wildlife area is the most beautiful place for wildlife sighting, in Southern India – even “ask an Indian!” I had 16 days left so decided to start heading for a town nearby named Sultanbatheri – a place from which a jeep or trek into the forest, one can experience a variety of wildlife and – possibly (gasp) Tigers! I set off via train then local bus. We went winding through the mountains and brisk hill stations of Coonoor and Ooty, monkeys watching and eating on the side lines like the road were a parade route. To my delight these places were breathtaking – and the routes afforded wonderful views. Also, I started to see something I had never seen so far in my travels in Kerala and the south – environmental propaganda signs. I was wishful that they would have a solid law backing the “no plastic in Nilgiri Hills” proclamation, but soon found that they did not. The gorgeous rolling tea and coffee fields were lined with the usual plastic bags and bottles. India has an issue – the tap water is perceived to be unsafe to drink therefore, bottled water is sold everywhere – even in restaurants. Containers are discarded and can be seen everywhere you go. Just as in my Kerala backwaters boat tour – floating plastic debris among lily pads and invasive plants – and there doesn’t seem to be › Continue reading
If you haven’t been up on surfboard technology, things have changed. In 2005, Clark Foam, the largest foam blank supplier closed its doors citing new environmental regulations which would have crippled its business. The standard for surfboards since the late 50′s when polyurethane foam and fiberglass-resin boards replaced wood boards, had come to an end.
Opening up the market to new innovations and materials, San Diego based Firewire Surfboards was ready with their new carbon and bamboo creation. Lighter, stronger and more flexible, Firewire’s boards are also more eco friendly emitting only 2 percent of volatile organic compounds and are 50 times less toxic to the environment than polyurethane foam. No masks are needed around this stuff, and you can walk into any of their factories without getting an instant headache.
Using an environmental sensitive laminating process, the Rapidfire line uses basic cooler type EPS (Expanded Polystyrene) foam inlaid with carbon rods for flex and topped with finished bamboo for strength and stiffness, replacing the standard wood stringer. All excess EPS foam is recycled at the end of the building process. They even won the coveted EuroSIMA Environmental Product of the Year Award in 2005.
I love bamboo. Its beautiful, its durable, and its a great sustainable and renewable resource, so I am pretty excited about Plyboo by Smith and Fong. Certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and available for LEED credit by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), these surfaces and flooring are all about sustainability. Made from FSC certified bamboo and palm, these flooring and paneling alternatives have a beautiful and unique modern but warm look.
Smith & Fong’s Plyboo flooring, plywood and veneer are derived from Moso bamboo harvested from a forest that requires no irrigation, fertilizers or pesticides. Each year, only 20 percent of the plantation’s bamboo (or only the five-year growth) is cut, ensuring the forest canopy remains intact and the ecosystem is not disturbed.
Both the Durapalm and Plyboo flooring, veneer and plywood use a urea formaldehyde-free adhesive called PlybooPure™ and pass the California Air Resources Board (CARB)’s formaldehyde regulations for composite panels. It also earned the world’s first non-wood FSC certification for its bamboo resource in China, providing third-party validation of a truly sustainable industry. Additionally, Smith & Fong retain a relationship with the actual bamboo farmers, to ensure the quality and sustainability of the operation.
I am starting a little game of High/Low which will bring both the “high-end” expensive items with more reasonably priced counterparts for the rest of us. I’m going to start this game off with something a little old school- turntable record players.
Eco Chic High
The “High” comes to us from German-based company Montegiro, and is quite beautifully built with a very clean design. This bamboo and steel Legno turntable promises chic style and a functional design with a stable steel chassis and resonance vibration dampening bamboo. The price reflects the overall design and build quality more than the audiophillic sound it produces, although, I am sure it is probably one of the best sounding turntables out there. Priced in at $13,240 – you can pick one up through Koetsu.
What makes it Green?
This one may be a bit of a stretch, but it is made from renewable bamboo and paired with recyclable steel.
Eco Friendly Low
The “Low” is simple- buy used! There are thousands of these out there for sale. By purchasing a used record player, not only are you keeping one more out of a landfill, you are also not using the resources to build a brand new one. You can even find wind up players to be even more green! Cost – anywhere from free on up. Check places like craigslist.org, freecycle.org, pawn shops and ebay for a turntable that suits your needs.
What makes it Green?
Its a reuse!
I wasn’t sure to file this under green design, or an attempt at sustainable design gone bad. As we all know, Bamboo is the darling of the sustainable green movement. It grows fast, requires no pesticides, is very hard and durable, and grows just about everywhere. With that in mind, bamboo can be found in all kinds of products that are trying to be green – some, like bamboo flooring, bamboo furniture, bamboo cutting boards, etc, make sense. Some do not. That said, I present an homage to all things bamboo (green washed and all).
1. The Bamboo Laptop
The Bamboo laptop. I don’t even know where to begin, although im not sure if the laptop itself is more or less shocking than the accessories (the bamboo keyboard and the bamboo mouse). Several manufacturers have released a bamboo cased laptop, with varying degrees of actual substance (some are little more than veneers).
2. Bamboo Mountain Bike
Now this actually makes sense, but it is really weird to see a bike made out of wood. I guess it would have been just as silly to have thought of a bike made out of carbon fiber 10 years ago, but don’t those still have an internal frame of metal? Calfee Design seem to be the big pioneers in this field, and from the reviews, they are pretty sweet.
3. Bamboo Sheets
Now this may seem odd at first, but they are incredibly well suited for this type of material. They have a real silky feel to them, are pesticide and chemical free (usually) and antimicrobial.
Keep up with us on Twitter and RSS!
You can find us at: