There are over 1,000 bamboo species in the world, and yet we have not tapped its full potential. The woody perennial grass is not just great for roofs and furniture, but, as we discovered, they are currently being used to make over 1,800 products, ranging from textiles and stationery to fashion accessories. With innovators in the country experimenting with it as an alternative to plastic and metal, here is what we found.
Write side up
This artisanal pen has a vintage feel and was created with the hope of reviving the art of writing. Based on a concept suggested by a client in the US — who hired the Ahmedabad-based design studio, Rhizome, to work on its design — it is carved out of bamboo, and has a steel clip and a chamfered tip.
Each pen comes with a German ink refill. “Bamboo is a sustainable, renewable material. When designed effectively, the production of bamboo products can provide livelihoods for poor communities and small producers,” says Rebecca Reubens, Founder and Principal Designer of Rhizome, who has worked with the International Network for Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR) for seven years. She is now working on developing a range of holistic writing instruments inspired by sustainable materials and crafts.
Priced at ₹500, the Humble Pen is currently being sold on a project basis on rhizomedesign.co.in
The first product launched by Kolkata-based brand Woodgeek, these notebooks use 3mm bamboo boards — made by splitting bamboo, resizing the sticks (by cutting, planning and sanding), and pasting and pressing them in a hot-press. These boards are then used to make the front and back covers.
The spiral-bound books come with 80 recycled brown paper pages and a free bamboo pen. Although eco-friendly, their USP lies in their personalisation. Customers can engrave a picture and text (in any language) on the notebooks and the pen for free, says Saikat Saha, the Founder.
Priced from ₹799 onwards. Details: woodgeekstore.com
A f un addition to your office, this calculator is made with bamboo and plastic. The top is laser-cut from a 3 mm bamboo board and combined with a hard plastic body.
The calculators can be custom-engraved with text or a logo. Made to order, they are only available for bulk purchases.
Priced at ₹899 for 100 pieces. Place your order at woodgeekstore.com
Over 150 million plastic toothbrushes are discarded every month in the country. This seeded the idea of the bamboo toothbrush in Yogesh Shinde, Founder, Bamboo India Mission, who introduced it in India late last year. Sturdy and bio-degradable, they are made with the MOS variant of bamboo, which is carbonised (treated with heat to increase longevity, and make it water-resistant and antibacterial). The bristles are made from biodegradable nylon4 and bamboo fibre or corn fibre.
An instant hit in the national and international market, the bamboo toothbrush has been supplied to stores in the UK, Dubai, the US and the Netherlands, says Shinde, who is on a mission to find eco-friendly alternatives to plastic products. Over 20,000 toothbrushes have been sold since its launch last August.
Pri ced at ₹110. Detail s: b ambooindia.com
A nother innovative product from Bamboo India Mission, this acoustic bamboo speaker and mobile docking station is made using a rare variety of bamboo found only in Pune, Maharashtra. Each speaker is made with a single piece of bamboo, and is cut, polished and dyed by hand. A signature product, no two bamboo speakers are alike. Each speaker is laser-engraved and can be customised with a name or logo on it.
The stylish docking station and sound amplifier uses zero electricity, battery or plug-ins. It’s not only great for playing music, but works well for hands-free calls, and using apps like Skype.
Priced at ₹329. Details: bambooindia.com
M umbai-based company, Dear Earth, has created a lotion and soap from activated bamboo charcoal. Launched in 2014, the bamboo charcoal lotion contains fine bamboo charcoal, specks to smoothen your skin. It also contains cooling and detoxifying organic aloe vera, neem oil, lemon oil, coconut oil, and vitamin E that keep your skin soft and supple.
Launched in 2013, the soap is made from a wholesome organic exfoliation therapy. fine pounded bamboo charcoal and organic jojoba oil that unclogs pores and exfoliates your skin. Enriched with soy lecithin, the soap locks in moisture and nurtures your skin with Vitamin E and fatty acids. The bamboo charcoal detoxifies and nourishes your skin.
The lotion is priced at ₹850 and the soap at ₹290. Details: dearearth.in
Pune-based Pratha Naturals has a soap for men made with activated bamboo charcoal and peppermint. Made from the Hardy Clumpy variant of bamboo, the soap is made with natural oils and butters blended in a traditional cold process method. the charcoal absorbs minerals, toxins, impurities, and other harmful substances from your skin, and acts as a natural exfoliant. It is also an effective remedy for acne.
Launched in October 2016, the soap is made with natural oils and butters blended in a traditional cold process method.
Priced at ₹175. Details: facebook.com/PrathaNaturals
In the shade
W oodgeek, which went online in 2015, also has a range of bamboo sunglasses. The frames are carved out of 12 mm thick bamboo boards and are planed and sanded down. Hand-finished to ensure uniformity in wood grain, the sunglasses and prescription glasses come with polarised lenses and a special UV coating that makes them water resistant.
Priced between ₹2,499 and ₹3,499. Details: woodgeekstore.com
A range of water-resistant bamboo sunglasses has been created by Gujarat-based Wood Works. Launched online in May 2016, they are made using polarised lenses and steel hinges.
Priced between ₹2,499 and ₹3,499. Detai ls: woodworksinc.inw
If you’re looking for an all-natural look, opt for these elegant bamboo watches that have been handcrafted with select bamboo variants. Choose from natural bamboo wooden watches with a brown leather strap, watches with bamboo and maple wood, bamboo watches with a green wood dial, or opt for a zebra wood strap. Waterproof and light-weight, the watches come in an elegantly packaged gift box.
Priced at ₹5,000 upwards, they are available at kraftly.com
Take a bow
C arved from bambo o boards, these bow ties and cufflinks are a great addition to your wardrobe. Created using a CNC router, they are hand-sanded and UV-coated for a smooth finish.
The bamboo cuff links can be engraved with your initials and make for a unique customised gift. The bow ties and cuff links are also available in walnut, rosewood, and zebra wood.
The bow ties are priced at ₹1,999 and cuff links at ₹1,499. Details: woodgeekstore.com
Give metal a go and take the green route to fashion. From necklaces and earrings to bangles, almost everything is available in the renewable bamboo jewellery range. Recent innovations in the field of bamboo research and newer designs have added a new dimension to handcrafted jewellery. Light-weight and intricate, these pieces are crafted by artisans in Tripura, and no two pieces are the same.
Priced between ₹50 and ₹300. Details: tripurabamboo.com, kraftly.com
On the case
O bsesse d with all things bamboo and wood, Kolkata-based Lumbr has designed a range of bamboo phone cases. Made using a light-weight variant of bamboo, the texture enables precise engraving. Bamboo’s rich texture gives the cases a rich look and all cases can be laser-engraved.
Available at lumbr.in, the cases are in the ₹799 to ₹1,499 price range
Made by combining real bamboo veneer with a polycarbonate shell, the bamboo phone cases at Woodgeek are sliced from carefully selected bamboo logs. The 2-mm-thick veneer is coated with matte UV cured varnish and pasted on a polycarbonate shell to give the cases flexibility. The cases can be engraved and The combination creates a thin bamboo phone case which can be custom engraved with photos or text. They come in two variants — slim cases, which are thin and light, and bumper cases which give added protection to your smartphone.
Available at woodgeekstore.com, the phone cases range from ₹799 to ₹1,499
Bambike:A suggestion from a friend got Vijay Sharma working on the country’s first bamboo bicycle prototype, Bambike. The Bengaluru-based furniture designer and manufacturer, who runs his company 6mm Desi gns and Furniture, created the bambike in just three days. As it did not have too many takers, Vijay did not venture into selling it commercially.
The first prototype was made with raw, solid bamboo with metal sleeves on junctions. The second prototype was made using thicker, hollow bamboo sections that gave the bike more rigidity. The bike’s frame that weighed around 3.5 kg was created with hemp and resin, and other parts were glued together with hemp fibre and did not have metal sleeves. “My aim was to experiment with the idea, perfect the art, and teach it to others,” says Vijay whose passion lies in trying out different materials and creating things with them.
The bambike was first priced at ₹25, 000, and with very few takers, it was reduced to ₹15, 000. While people liked the idea, they had an issue with the pricing. "People think bamboo is cheap, and hence products need to be priced low. But what they don’t realise is that if a product is handmade, it’s going to cost you,” adds Vijay, who says there are more takers for the bambike abroad.
Bikes by Bamboo India:B amboo bicycles are durable, resistant to stress and impact, and transfer power efficiently. Currently being manufactured by B amboo India, the bicycles are available in three variants — road bike, mountaineering bike, and a hybrid variant.
Each frame is made by hand, giving the bike much-needed durability. While the frame is made of bamboo, the bamboo needs to be treated to seal it and prevent splitting. The bikes have a non-toxic satin polyurethane finish which functions as a vapour seal. This enables easy maintenance of the bicycle.
The bicycles are tailor-made to suit specific needs and are available at exhibitions, and cycling events.
The starting price of the bamboo bicycle is ₹25,000, and log on to bambooindia.com to place your order
Bikes by Godrej:When Vijay Crishna of Executive Director, Lawkim Motors Group , a division of Godrej and Boyce, travelled to Antarctica, he chanced upon a bamboo-framed bike that had been ridden the entire length of North and South America. Inspired by the bike’s design, he the strength, agility and design of the bike, he invited its the bike’s designer Craig Calfee to India to design it for the Indian market.
Made using the Pseudo-Oxytenanthera stocksii species of bamboo, the bamboo frames are lighter and stronger than those in mild steel bicycles. The bikes have been tested on a 4,400 km long journey from Kanyakumari to Khardung-La during the monsoon, and they performed well.
They will be soon available in In dia via online channels in three different variants