star bamboo


The Singapore Environment Council is organising an Eco Action Day on 5 June 2007, to raise awareness of environmental issues among companies.

Not much effort is required, just a simple flick of the switch to turn off any unnecessary lighting or office equipment.

I have already signed up Star Bamboo for this programme, to show our support and commitment to reduce energy wastage. The lights for our Singapore warehouse are usually turned on whenever we step into the adjoining office. Now, we will only turn on the lights when we actually retrieve stocks from it.

It’s a simple act, but it will save us 1/3 off our lighting bills. It’s so simple that we will be practising it every day starting right now – why limit yourself to 5 June?

Although this Eco Action Day programme is meant for Singapore companies only, all overseas visitors reading this are welcome to start similar initiatives in your company.

It’s easy, it’s simple, and speaks volumes of your commitment to the environment. If you decide to join in this effort, please drop me an email to tell me all about it. I’m all ears!

OK, better sign up first because the 28 May deadline is just around the corner. Click here to register now!

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People know Star Bamboo for our eco-friendly bamboo flooring, but we also offer other bamboo products. One of our most popular and versatile products is bamboo veneer.

Bamboo veneer are thin sheets of bamboo material, with a frieze cotton backing to minimise breakage. They typically come in 4′ by 8′ sheets of 0.6mm thickness, and are made by thinly slicing big blocks of bamboo material.

The beauty of bamboo veneer is its flexibility. Our bamboo material, like that of bamboo flooring, is very hard and strong. But this strength can be a double-edged sword, making it difficult to mould and press.

Bamboo veneer, on the other hand, is so flexible that it can be used to wrap curved surfaces. The most popular application of bamboo veneer is on kitchen and bedroom cabinets.

But it can be so much more than that.

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The big news last weekend in Singapore was the announcement by S Iswaran, Singapore’s Minister of State for Trade and Industry that the F1 carnival is finally coming to our shores.

F1 is the most un-green sport today. Today’s Straits Times newspaper carried an article with some fascinating nuggets of information to show just how polluting it is:

  • Each F1 car burns up to a litre of fuel and releases 1,500g of carbon dioxide per km, which contributes to an estimated 10 tonnes of CO2 per race weekend.
  • The mooted night race format requires an estimated 500 energy-sapping high-intensity light poles.
  • F1 car engines are loud enough to be heard literally half way across Singapore, or shatter glass windows of nearby buildings.

Coincidentally, S Iswaran was also the Guest-of-Honour at the prize-awarding ceremony for the Eco Products International Fair (EPIF) 2006 where Star Bamboo won the Silver Medal for our bamboo flooring:

EPIF 2006 award ceremony

The EPIF and F1 are at opposite ends of the eco-friendliness scale, but there is one common link.

From the outset, the Singapore government has cited commercial reasons for courting F1: tourism receipts, branding of Singapore as a cosmopolitan and glamourous city to 500 million television viewers, and jobs creation.

That is why the Singapore government has committed itself to spending up to S$90m per year for the F1 race. If green businesses were ever to enjoy this level of support, we would have to demonstrate the same kind of ROI.

After all, it’s just business.

Bamboo is a beautiful sustainable material. It’s strong, durable and extremely fast growing. Did you know that some species of bamboo have been known to grow an astonishing 1 metre in a single day?

No wonder companies have been making all sorts of products from it for years, from flooring to chopping boards and other household items.

Star Bamboo was one of the first companies to make furniture out of the bamboo material. But it’s a matter of time before other companies caught on to this.

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One of the most common issues we face during installation is dents on our bamboo flooring.

During a renovation or construction project, flooring is usually the last item. Ideally, most of the other works would already have been completed when we are installing the flooring, leaving perhaps some light carpentry work.

That’s the theory. Due to time constraints and unforeseen delays, job sites are usually chaotic places. One of my installer half-jokingly calls them as “war zones”.

Bamboo is very hard and durable, but it is nowhere as hard as a metal hammer. Accidents do happen.

So what can we do?

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I remember when Star Bamboo first started production in 2001, there were concerns over the viability of the business.

People could see that our bamboo flooring product was lovely and durable, but they wondered if eco-friendly products would do well in a market where price was often the prime consideration.

Would people be willing to spend their money on eco-friendly products?

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I received a bounced mail today.

It was a traditional Lunar New Year greeting card sent to an overseas associate. I had written only the street address, without the city nor postal code. This is perfectly fine in a small country in Singapore, where the city is the same as the country.

In my rush, I even omitted the country, which you could see was hastily scribbled in right before I popped it in the post:

Lunar New Year card - Returned to sender

It took 3 months to be sent back to me.

This is an incredibly slow and inefficient way of telling me that I’ve written an incomplete mailing address. With email, it will take less than a minute.

Then it struck me how much I’ve come to rely on the Internet.

Star Bamboo is based in Singapore, with our factory in China, and we sell to customers around the globe.

I rely heavily on the following to communicate with my clients and business associates:

  1. Email (Email)
  2. Web site (www.starbamboo.com)
  3. Blog (you’re reading it now)
  4. Various B2B trade web sites

All these would have been impossible without the Internet. It is vastly more efficient than letters, faxes and phone calls.

Just think about how you found Star Bamboo, and chances are it’s through the Internet.

So I will be emailing my associate above to wish him a terribly belated Happy Lunar New Year instead.

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