Not Just Bamboo is the love-child social impact company from Danish co-founders Martin Elsøe Jensen and Frantz Byrch Pedersen. Their mission dives a lot deeper than simply producing eco-friendly products, and their unique business model that aims to benefit and enrich all of those involved is challenging long-standing consumerist status quos.
“I’ve lived in Asia for almost half of my life – and it was really shocking to me to see plastic everywhere I went. I myself was looking for a sustainable water bottle for many years but found it difficult to find the product I wanted.”
Spotting a gap in the market for a much needed item, in 2015 Pedersen spent several months in Vietnam visiting local handicraft villages, meeting with government officials and visiting families that harvested bamboo. During this time he developed a deep appreciation for Vietnamese culture and craftsmanship and wanted to give back to those communities that had inspired him so much.
Pedersen found that many of the sustainable water bottles on the market weren’t as environmentally conscious as they might have seemed, with their reusable qualities being limited at best, often involving some plastic element in their construction and delivered in unnecessary packaging. Upon learning of the impressive qualities of bamboo material (found in abundance in the Northern regions of Vietnam), Pedersen found it eventually proved to lay the foundations for the company’s line of products.
Bamboo is the fastest growing plant on the planet, growing up to 30 meters in a matter of a few years, is extremely long-lasting and has antibacterial properties – all excellent components when considering making a product that not only has to be reusable, but also safe in its uses when in contact to drinking water. Besides the water bottles being made from sustainably sourced bamboo, the process of harvesting the material is entirely hand-made, eliminating the use of heavy machinery and thus offsetting superfluous emissions and air pollutants.
The company has since expanded into a line of toothbrushes, bowls, and straws, all constructed from bamboo – and one of the most unique quirks of the products is that you’ll never find exact replicas of each one. Every single piece of bamboo used to create an item has its own unique grain, size, thickness and weight and is created exactly as nature intended it: imperfect. Combined with astute Danish design, the water bottles themselves are completely biodegradable once they’ve reached the end of their life span, and the silicone bottle tops are interchangeable between the numerous lines of bottles.
“It’s also really important for us to have full transparency on all levels of our company. If we have handcrafted products we also want to ensure that our workers are treated fairly. When visiting the local communities I was deeply motivated by the hard-working mindset of the women, and it’s something that has made us strive to be better too. 80% of our workforce is female, and the workers don’t work weekends or after 5pm so that they have time to spend with their families.”
Aside from creating products that are environmentally sound from every possible angle, Not Just Bamboo is simultaneously leading a cause to give back to Vietnamese communities by ensuring they have access to exactly what their bottles are intended to hold: water.
Partnering with Gravity Water, their mission is to provide access to safe filtered drinking water across the globe, and the project has already been making waves (pun shamelessly intended) all over Vietnam. The process involves installing self-sustaining and electricity-free rainwater systems in schools in rural areas of the country, and has already saved countless communities money and resources that would otherwise go into the cyclical use of environmentally harmful plastic bottles.
It seems that no hurdle has gone overlooked in creating Not Just Bamboo, and with the zero waste movement catching on like wildfire in recent years, the circular production framework of the company’s products means that every aspect of their business is meticulously sustainable and ridiculously stylish too.