Renwable Bambo Tableware in a Class of its Own

Bamboo Studio's elegant new product line

Bamboo Studio's elegant new product line

After a recent column on compostable disposables http://3.ly/IH6 I thought it fitting to look at some reusable tableware made out of renewable bamboo.

A species of grass rather than wood, bamboo has over 1,000 documented uses, including hardwood flooring, cutting boards and bathroom accessories.

A new company called Bamboo Studio recently introduced a stunning-looking line of reusable tableware. I say stunning because when I opened the box, I was astounded by the beauty of the products.

This tableware line includes different sized plates, bowls and round dishes, flatware, skewers and trays. These all-occasion dishes are created with simplicity and a natural design.

Though there are other renewable sources for tableware, materials like paper and sugarcane plates first must be turned into pulp before becoming the finished product. Not so with bamboo.

According to Scott Patterson, owner-partner of Bamboo Studio, the tableware is made from the bamboo’s sheath or outer covering. Unlike harvested wood, the sheath isn’t cut. After one year’s growth, the sheath dries, then falls to the ground. Bamboo Studio takes this naturally discarded product and turns it into good-looking tableware.

Unlike some bamboo products that are processed and laminated, the sheaths are boiled to allow for easy scraping, then cut into strips and layered.

That’s so it doesn’t leak, Patterson said.

It’s then glued with a water soluble, food safe glue, then pressed into shape. “It’s all done by hand,” he said.

And there’s no coating or lacquer. “It’s the natural beauty of the sheath.”

Invented and manufactured in China, “it has an elegant look,” says Patterson. “You could have a higher-end party and use a white tablecloth with it.”

“Everybody just loves (them),” says Patterson.

Many caterers and restaurants are using the bamboo forks and skewers, especially for things like sushi. The company just introduced a bamboo wine plate – perhaps the first of its kind that’s not plastic.

Adding to their appeal, they can be reused at least 5 times, perhaps more. Cleaning is easy, though don’t think about using a dishwasher. Hand wash in hot water, lightly scrub, rinse, then dry.

These products biodegrade within 6 months. And they’re compostable, though they’re not yet certified for this. The company’s working on that.

“From an environmental standpoint,” Patterson says, “we take something that’s laying on the (forest) floor and are reusing it instead of throwing it away.” And the result is a gorgeous, higher-end product.

Reasonably priced, they range from $7.99 to $9.99, depending on the dish size. The plates come in square or round. Bowls come in packages of eight. The distinctive-looking tray is $15.00 for a package of two. A set of eight (forks, spoons or knives) is $4.99.

Since these are new, they’re available at a limited number of small retailers, though Patterson says they’re working on getting them into Whole Foods Markets. The Bamboo Studio line is available online, along with specials, at www.ecobambooware.com.