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When plastic use is totally unnecessary

At Native Leaf, we are all about earth-friendly products and natural gift packaging.

So yes, we definitely promote using sustainably made products and using materials that can compost and biodegrade over time.

But like just about everyone on our planet we also use plastic containers and other plastic products, as sometimes there is simply no other product better than plastic for certain objects, or it may be that no other material can function like plastic.

I sometimes see products where the use of plastic — as trim or decoration — is totally unnecessary, especially when considering how we will dispose of certain products and objects after the item is no longer usable.  This sometimes happens when mixing modern materials like plastics with traditional materials from nature.

A good example is the traditional Philippine grass and bamboo broom, called a “walis tambo”.

plastic trim on walis tambo broom

Traditional brooms or “walis tambo” for sale, at our local Asian market.  Plastic is now used for the broom’s trim,  strapping and decorative touches.

Before the advent of plastic strapping materials and plastic trim, these brooms were made entirely from natural materials — and the entire broom would have been biodegradable.

These days, the walis tambo I find at our local markets are still made of grass, and the handles are still made of rattan or  bamboo (also a type of giant grass) or other wood, but now these have plastic trim and decoration, instead of the more traditional materials like bamboo or rattan strips, or natural and native twine.

The Problem….

So what’s the problem with this?

Well,  over time you will eventually need a NEW walis tambo, and have to dispose of your OLD walis tambo.

If you want to be a good steward of our environment, you would have to unravel all the plastic trimming to put the old broom in your compost pile, otherwise you may just get frustrated and throw it away where it will head to the landfill, taking up space with all the other non-recyclable junk we humans produce and use.

Why not just make the entire broom with natural materials, like on the photo examples below?

Natural walis tambo

Photo of traditional walis tambo, natural material Philippine broom (Note: not our photo, and we can’t seem to locate the source, so if you know of the photo source let us know so we can credit accordingly)

So yes, it does not have the extra color of the plastic trim — unless the natural materials are dyed — but I actually think the “all natural” brooms are prettier.

Hopefully, the makers of these brooms (typically a cottage industry / family endeavor) will return to using natural materials to construct the entire broom.

What do you think?  Do you like the plastic trimmed walis tambo or the all natural material type?

Do you have examples of other objects that use plastics unnecessarily?  If you do, please comment and send us a photo!

— mj

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