While teaching English to Children in China, I learned a significant amount about the greater world around us. So many aspects of life were different in this foreign land, and I was bound to explore them.
The Eastern mentality and ethos of living is akin to the Buddhist ideals of 'living like water'. This is to avoid unnecessary complications and to 'go with the flow'. This mindset has caused the over 1 billion Chinese people to create solutions using what they have. This aligns with our goal of sustainability because a key concept is to reuse as much material as possible. And this is what they do.
With the booming economy in China, buildings were being erected at an unprecedented scale. I was there in 2009 while the whole world remained curious about the 'World Expo' which was to open in Shanghai in 2010. Massive cranes and bulldozers were moving the Earth around, but I noticed something in particular which stood in stark contrast to 'industrializing' and 'modernizing' which were the goals. Instead of modern methods of construction, workers fabricated scaffolding systems which were entirely reusable. These scaffolds were not made of steel and bolts, but of long, sturdy bamboo shoots tied together with a twine.
The structures were stable, and allowed construction workers to move about the building in an effective manner. When the building was complete, they would untie the twine and stack up the long bamboo until the next project.
I looked into bamboo as cultivatable crop as well as a material and was surprised to find many facts:
The last fact fascinated me and I decided to look for people within the industry. I found bed sheets, 'wood floors', small containers and other more sturdy items like chairs, sunglasses frames, and even stereos. Not only was the material dense and strong, but abundant and highly sustainable.
I met with a manufacturer of bamboo bed sheets (who claim their product remains 1-2 degrees cooler than traditional bed sheets), and learned about the process of turning the bamboo into a soft, linen-like material. They brought me through the factory and I saw, first-hand, how the material is broken down and spun. At this point, I considered that this material may be used for anything that requires softness or absorbency. Bingo.
So our quest to perfect a baby diaper began. We found a traditional diaper manufacturer and started asking questions about the wood pulp used as the center liner. Not only was it expensive, but not even very absorbent. I asked further about the possibility of interchanging materials and we began to experiment: a baby diaper which can biodegrade.
After dozens of prototypes and design tweaks, our friends and families babies had given us what we needed: real feedback. We had to make changed on the liner, the adhesives, and the Magic Tape. But ultimately, we were able to design an effective product. Mothers can feel safe by using a diaper which is non-toxic and only uses natural materials. Babies are super comfortable and remain dry (bamboo naturally wicks away moisture). And the green-friendly folk can rest assured that this product is better for the environment than any diaper currently available. Please check out our biodegradability studies in the Discover section!