As the use of bamboo increases worldwide, the International Network for Bamboo and Rattan recently launched the Bamboo and Rattan Products Ideas Competition. This contest encourages submissions from any individual or organization in the world and the only requirements are that they are made from bamboo/rattan and the must relate to one of the four categories in the competition.
Held in conjunction with the Shanghai Expo, the competition theme will correlate to the expo theme of “Better City, Better Life.”
“Bamboo and rattan have always been important for the livelihoods of rural communities,” said Coosje Hoogendoorn, INBAR’s Director General. “But modern technology now enables bamboo and rattan to be used in literally thousands of applications, not only in villages but also now in cities. The purpose of the competition is to showcase the huge potential for product innovation using bamboo and rattan, which can not only help reduce rural poverty but also protect the environment. This is because bamboo’s really fast growth rate means it can provide a more renewable alternative to timber, while processing generally uses far less energy than other materials.
The categories of competition are based on the four necessities of life. As the Chinese saying goes: clothing, food, shelter and transport are the the four basics and the things that are always part of us and show how fast our societies are changing.
Entrants can enter into any of the four categories:
Clothing – As consumers learn more about the devastating effects processed materials (in particular cotton) can have on the environment, there remains a growing demand for alternative fabrics. The bamboo plant is able to transform into a soft and very absorbent materials for use in everything from organic duvets for your bedroom to organic women’s clothing to bamboo towels. As long as they are processed correctly, these fibers remain eco-friendly and are a wonderful addition to your home and wardrobe. Bamboo fabric can even create red-carpet worthy eco-couture gowns!
Food – Long a staple of Asian dishes, bamboo food is growing in popularity in Western countries. For some fun and delicious recipes, visit Green Earth Bamboo’s section on Bamboo Flavors. Beyond eating, bamboo is also an excellent material for kitchen use. Bamboo is used to make heart-healthy steamers and summer-essential barbecue tools. In fact, bambooing your kitchen is easily done with these simple adjustments!
Shelter – Though it can be turned into a soft fabric, bamboo is also a strong enough plant to build houses, office buildings and even scaffolding with. With a tensile strength greater than that of steel, builders around the globe are starting to become more interested in these fast-growing, highly sustainable material. In Bali, the Green School is an entire campus of bamboo buildings while in Puerto Rico, you can vacation in a bamboo treehouse! Along with saving the environment, bamboo building are also saving lives with their strength and durability. More and more aid organizations are taking advantage of this material that will move and sway with earthquakes and high winds but will not fall. In India, bamboo houses withstood a deadly tropical storm and in Haiti, the need for bamboo instant houses was evident as aftershocks continued to hit the country.
Transport – What could turn out to have the most interesting entries of the entire competition, the use of bamboo is transport is a fledgling enterprise. While the world has seen bamboo taxis in the Philippines, bamboo trains in Cambodia and a huge upsurge in the use of bamboo bikes, few ideas have taken hold at a mass transport level.
Slowly, the world is starting to open its eyes to the possibility not only of bamboo being the best “green” material out there due to its renewablity and sustainability, but also to the idea that bamboo as a crop can lead millions of people across the world out of poverty.
The deadline for entries is July 31 and we’ll keep you posted on the finalists!