Rattan is used for creating naturally sustainable wicker furniture such as chairs, stools, laundry baskets and other home accessories. Wicker is a term used in reference to materials made of woven styles which can be made of either plant fiber or high-density polyethylene (HDPE). When choosing the best material for your balcony or terrace, a more sustainable option would be rattan as opposed to plastic. Rattan does not produce carbon emissions to the environment, is cheaper to obtain and has a wide range of applications both indoor and outdoor.
How is rattan produced?
Rattan is the name given to a type of climbing plant that resembles the palm and is native to tropical regions of southeastern Asia, China, and Malaysia. Indonesia is the biggest producer of rattan and rattan products in the world, constituting about 85% of the total world production. This helps in sustaining the local economies by providing employment to the rural communities.
Rattan has a tough solid stem which measures up to 2 inches in diameter. The rattan canes are harvested and their outer skin is peeled for use as a weaving material. The solid core of the cane is cut into sections and steamed to make them easier to bend and shape into a curve. This can then be styled into any desirable shape for making furniture or other household accessories.
Just like any other wood, rattan can be painted and worked into different styles. The flexible nature and ability to be manipulated makes rattan one of the most valued wicker materials.
Why is Rattan better than plastic from an environmental perspective?
There are numerous reasons why you should choose rattan for your balcony and terrace over plastic options. From an environmental perspective, rattan is harmless and actually advantageous to the soil since it is biodegradable. Garden furniture made of rattan are non-toxic to the environment and contain 100% recyclable fibres. On the other hand, synthetic furniture produces toxic emissions to the surrounding and does not decompose easily. Despite their added durability, plastic furniture requires more energy to produce compared to rattan furniture-up to 22 times more.
What can you do to keep your rattan longer, functional and nice?
Rattan is durable, lightweight, and strong and can serve its purpose for many years. However, care must be taken to ensure the quality remains the same over this period.
Various rattan products come with care instructions to ensure longevity. It is advisable to clean rattan by wiping the product using a damp cloth. Rattan can withstand extreme conditions of humidity and temperature. It is also resistant to insects that usually attack wooden furniture. This makes it ideal for outdoor use.
However, prolonged exposure to sunlight or soaking in the rain can compromise the beauty and appearance of your rattan furniture. It is always best to avoid exposing rattan furniture to prolonged elements of weather so that they can last for longer periods.
To keep your rattan looking nice, you can opt for a color change. There are many color options that you can paint your outdoor garden chair or balcony to depict the feeling of naturalness.
Is Rattan biodegradable?
There is a yes and a no answer – depending on which expert gives his opinion. Like many products made from natural material, rattan involves many processes that lead to the end-product. Some processes may be detrimental to the environment. First, the high demand for rattan products has continually led to the over-exploitation of rattan species in native environments. This poses a threat to the survival of various rattan species which could possibly lead to extinction if the trend continues. Unsustainable harvest practices affect the biodiversity of the surrounding environment and can lead to forest degradation. This produces an effect on the overall balance of the ecosystem.
When it comes to processing of rattan, toxic chemicals are used which end up polluting the environment. In addition, the health of the workers is compromised due to exposure to these chemicals. Nearby communities also experience these effects. Despite these setbacks, rattan is biodegradable, unlike synthetic furniture. Rattan is natural and contains 100% recyclable fibres. It does not produce harmful gas emissions to the atmosphere and helps in reducing the carbon footprint. This helps in curbing global warming in the long term.
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