July 12, 2019: The Beauty of Bamboo

This week Cintia and I have been putting the finishing touches on the house we’re building on Russell Island. It’s great fun seeing it all come together after so much planning and hard work. We’re particularly happy with our choice of colours and materials… I say colours but basically everything is white with wood accents.

On the outside we used ‘Surfmist’ coloured steel and FSC certified Merbau wood. On the inside we used low-VOC paints by Taubmans with no tint at all, just the ‘Brilliant White’ that comes straight out of the can, along with bamboo floors, counters and shelving. One of the advantages of using this ‘colour’ is that it should be easy to match in the future if we need to do touch-ups or repaint anything.

This week we’ve been installing laminated bamboo panels for all the shelves in the closets and we’re really happy with how it looks. These are the same bamboo panels we used for the kitchen countertops.

Our kitchen completed

Our kitchen complete with laminated bamboo countertops.

On our first trip up here to start the building, almost exactly a year ago, we found these panels on special at Bunnings for $79 for a 600mm x 2200mm panel. So we bought as many as the PHEV could carry. Bamboo is a wonderful material. It grows very quickly and can be harvested without killing the plant so it is more sustainable than a lot of timber. The downside of this is that most of the bamboo available for sale in Australia is grown in either China or Vietnam and has to be transported a long way. As with every decision on a building project, there are compromises to be made, but this material is strong and durable, cost-effective, renewable and we love the way it looks so we’re happy with the choice.

Laminated bamboo panels used for shelving in our hall closet

Laminated bamboo panels used for shelving in our hall closet.

The cross-laminated panels are made from small strips of bamboo glued together with the grain in the surface running perpendicular to the grain in the middle. This makes for a very strong sheet of ‘wood’ with a beautiful pattern on the edges.

We’ve used the same panels in every room in the house for shelves and built-in desk tops and it looks fantastic with the white walls and ceilings and the bamboo floor. It’s a very clean, simple and cohesive combination. Here’s how the walk-in wardrobe in the master bedroom turned out.

The same bamboo panels used for shelving the walk-in wardrobe.

The same bamboo panels used for shelving in the walk-in wardrobe.

It’s great to be living in the house and getting to know what works and what doesn’t. So far there are very few things that we think we would change if we were starting again. We have a couple more days of work on the inside then we’ll start on the fences, driveway and landscaping outside. We’ll keep you posted.

The Year of Less

One of the email newsletter I receive mentioned a book called ‘The Year of Less’ which sounded interesting so I have ordered it from the Russell Island library. I’ll write more about it after I have read it but here is the summary on Amazon in case you’re interested…

In her late twenties, Cait Flanders found herself stuck in the consumerism cycle that grips so many of us: earn more, buy more, want more, rinse, repeat. Even after she worked her way out of nearly $30,000 of consumer debt, her old habits took hold again. When she realized that nothing she was doing or buying was making her happy–only keeping her from meeting her goals–she decided to set herself a challenge: she would not shop for an entire year.

The Year of Less documents Cait’s life for twelve months during which she bought only consumables: groceries, toiletries, gas for her car. Along the way, she challenged herself to consume less of many other things besides shopping. She de-cluttered her apartment and got rid of 70 percent of her belongings; learned how to fix things rather than throw them away; researched the zero-waste movement; and completed a television ban. At every stage, she learned that the less she consumed, the more fulfilled she felt.

The challenge became a lifeline when, in the course of the year, Cait found herself in situations that turned her life upside down. In the face of hardship, she realized why she had always turned to shopping, alcohol, and food–and what it had cost her. Unable to reach for any of her usual vices, she changed habits she’d spent years perfecting and discovered what truly mattered to her.

I find it interesting that I came across this book just shortly after I had been invited to write an article for the Southern Highland News which included the following suggestions for things we can all do to help create a better future…

Less is more – the easiest thing we can all do is simply to consume less. I know this goes against the global mantra of growth, Growth, GROWTH!, but isn’t that what got us into this mess in the first place? For example we can:

  • Find ways to use less energy (there are lots of tips on the internet);
  • Make our homes more energy efficient or, better yet, downsize to a smaller one;
  • Drive less (walk or bike more and enjoy the benefits of being outside getting exercise);
  • Travel less (we live in a wonderful part of the world, do we really need to be constantly taking trips to other places?);
  • Eat less (and maybe get healthier in the process);
  • Buy less new stuff, send less old stuff to landfill.
  • Turn off our TVs and devices and have positive interactions with the people and the world around us.

It sounds like Cait Flanders has done exactly what I was suggesting and found that life was much more fulfilling and enriching in the process. So I’m keen to read her story and I’ll report back when I have.

Thanks for reading… cheers, Andy

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