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Bamboo used to make charcoal for bbq in recent years


Bamboo has been used to make items never before associated with the plant in recent years--like shampoo, socks, charcoal for bbq, etc...

--source from BBC, Taipei


Bamboo element is ubiquitous in Chinese culture. Sturdy and tenacious, it symbolises virtue.
In fact, the plant has had a profound impact on the daily life, culture and spirituality of the Chinese.
In the past, a wide variety of products were made from bamboo - from roof tiles and rafts, to shoes, furniture and agricultural tools.
But despite the close relationship between Chinese-speaking societies and the natural material, Taiwan's bamboo industry has suffered a decline in recent decades.
It nearly collapsed because of people's preference for more modern-looking products, or just cheaper plastic goods - and the impact of less expensive bamboo charcoal imports from China and South East Asia.


Nowhere was this more apparent than in central Taiwan's Zhushan or "BambooMountain"town.


Hundreds of families used to make bamboo products there in the centre of the country's bamboo industry. Now there are only about 50.


It's a trend reflected in other parts of Taiwan - only about 240 bamboo-products businesses remain on the island.


"In the past, every part of Taiwan had people working in this industry, but over the years, bamboo has been replaced by plastic or steel to make all sorts of products, such as clothes

hanging poles, baby cribs, and furniture," says Yang Chun-hsien, director of the Forestry Bureau's reforestation and production division.


However, an earthquake and strong resolve on the part of the government and industry to continue using bamboo have led to a revival and transformation in its use.


In recent years, bamboo has been used to make items never before associated with the plant - from shampoo and insect repellent, to socks, gloves, roasted peanuts, and even charcoal for bbq.


This reinvention of how bamboo is used has made it possible for the small family businesses which make up the industry to stay alive and to start reversing the decades of decline.