Did you know?
It takes up to twenty years for a plastic straw to decompose? In most places straws can’t even be recycled. Each year 1 Million Seabirds and 100000 Marine animals die from ingesting plastic. Interesting is it not? We are so use to buying a bottle or a can of something, unwrapping the straw, devouring our drink out of thirst that we often forget to look at the bigger picture. I recently came across a wonderful company who is doing their part and produces a 100% handmade reusable bamboo straw that is the perfect natural alternative to plastic straws. They are lightweight, durable and of course biodegradable.
I recently had the chance to do a Q&A session with the founders.
Introduction: Tell us a little bit about yourself and your back ground.
Daniella Corder and Dylan Oosthuizen met while studying Environmental Management at Stellenbosch University. They later lived, traveled and taught English in Vietnam for almost two years. They now aim to use The Bamboo Project as a means to both educate and improve the relationship South African’s have with plastic pollution and their local environment. They strive to uplift their local community and want to change the mindsets around single-use plastic – more specifically the plastic straw.
When did you start The Bamboo Project , and why?
While living and travelling around SE Asia for almost two years we became concerned with the amount of plastic our travels created. Plastic bottles for drinking water, plastic packaging on in-flight meals, plastic packets at grocery stores and of course the ‘seemingly harmless’ single-use plastic straw.On our travels we always tried to minimize our environmental impact by refusing single-use plastics wherever we could. However we became aware that no matter where we were, whether it be the beautiful Gili Islands or the mountains of Vietnam – plastic packets, bottles and straws where sure to be found in rivers, along roads or washed up on otherwise pristine beaches. On our return to South Africa we found the same problems with plastic consumption and pollution. We decided to stop complaining and to try make a difference ourselves. We believe that while consumers need to make better choices regarding purchasing of plastic goods, it is up to producers and companies to take a stand and offer sustainable products which aren’t harmful to the environment. The Bamboo Project aims to offer sustainable non-plastic alternatives to single-use plastic items currently used in South Africa and the world. We hope to change mindsets around plastic consumption and to eventually be in a position donate a portion of our revenue to environmental protection agencies.
Describe The Bamboo project in five words.
Encouraging an anti-plastic mindset.
Finding alternatives to single-use plastic.
Environmentally woke trend setting rockstars.
Creating awareness about plastic pollution.
What challenges have you faced whilst running your company thus far?
Things take time. Registering for licenses, bank accounts and tax are all slow processes. Especially when you are starting out and are lacking in experience whilst trying to also save on costs.
How do you overcome these challenges?
With patience and by surrounding yourself with good people who can help you through with advice and encouragement.
What do you love about owning your own business?
We love that our business allows us to make the world a better place. We love owning our own business because it gives us the freedom to explore new product ideas which are not yet found in South Africa. While it can be stressful – owning our own business is the most empowering thing we have ever done.
Which job title best describes you?
We are both co-owners of The Bamboo Project.
How many days per week do you work on average?
5-6 days a week.
Name three things that you can’t go a day without and that help you run your business.
Rupert the Golden Retriever.
What advice do you have for someone who wants to start their own business or brand?
Do your research. You have to know your product and your target-market well. It takes money to make money – make sure you have enough money saved and then some. Read “Become Your Own Boss in 12 Months” – Melinda Emerson, “The 4-Hour Work Week” – Tim Ferris, “90 Rules For Entrepreneurs” – Marnus Broodryk, “Manage Your Money Like a F*cking Grownup” – Sam Beckbessinger.
Do you feel like you are living your passion?
Yes we are loving the challenge. We are very excited for the future and truly believe in what we are doing. It’s also super encouraging to have so many people already onboard with us at this early stage. It tells us we are doing something right.
Is there anything you know now, that you wish you knew when you started your business?
Don’t be afraid to ask for help and seek advice from the people around you. If you are passionate about what you are doing people will feel that energy and generally be willing and excited to help.
Which people have been enormously helpful to you?
Our family and friends have been a great source of encouragement since we began this new adventure. Without them we might not have had the courage to take this leap into the unknown. Our customers have also been our inspiration, it has been a pleasure to meet so many like-minded people, game-changers and trendsetters in the plastic-free space.
Who is your target market? If I were to give you a referral, who would I be looking for?
Corporates, restaurants, markets, tourist shops. Environmentally-conscious people with disposable income and a desire to see the world change for the better.
Any future plans with the brand?
We started with reusable bamboo straws and we are planning to expand our product range to include bamboo toothbrushes and reusable coconut bowls and cutlery within the next month. We would also like to supply more products which are locally produced – local is lekker.
A look at the range.
You can find The Bamboo Project:
Watch this space!