One of the things we have noticed is that many of our projects seem to feature bamboo and there is a good reason for that. Bamboo grows all over Myanmar and is used for everything from kitchen utensils to furniture and even fishing rods around here.
Face of Indawgyi is finding sustainable solutions to local problems and this began over a year ago when we worked with Lon Sant Village who had been producing sustainable trash cans made of bamboo and fishing nets. With them, we supplied enough trash cans to cover the needs of four villages and the two largest tourist sites at the lake, Shwe Myintzu Pagoda and the Bamboo Buddha.
From here, we have been lucky enough to discover additional creative ways bamboo is used around Myanmar. In the Kachin State capital of Myitkyina, we came into contact with Burma Bike Partnership. This handful of young, Kachin biking enthusiasts has been working together to create bamboo bikes.
Essentially, they make a strong, lightweight bike frame out of bamboo and source the other components from the gears to the brakes from old, broken bikes. The result is a new, completely sustainable high-quality bike that looks and rides great. We picked up four for tourists to enjoy around Indawgyi Lake and there really is no better way of getting around here. We’re also working with the group to boost their visibility so they can make this into a full-time business.
Reducing Plastic Waste with Bamboo Straws
Our most recent collaboration has been with Palu. Palu- a word in the Chin language from the hills of Western Myanmar, describes a bamboo straw used to drink traditional Khuang Yay (Chin Rice Wine). Using bamboo straws to drink Khuang Yay at special occasions such as weddings or cultural celebrations has been a Chin traditional for hundreds of years. At Indawgyi lake, now is the time to introduce bamboo straws because single-use plastic straws have become a significant source of waste.
In particular, we have focused on the village of Loi Mon which is famous for its coconuts stands that overlook the water. Travellers stop here to sit and enjoy a refreshing coconut while viewing the lake. We have provided these bamboo straws to the stall owners as well as to the restaurants in our village of Lon Ton. Our goal is to expand across the lake over the next few months. Straws are a small step, but a good way to have an immediate impact on the plastic waste problem here.
So it all seems to come back to bamboo. From trash cans to bicycles to straws, there are many innovative ways to use this amazing plant and we hope to discover more as we continue our work here.