The stars were aligning. Plans were being made and big things were going to happen in 2020. Just three months ago, sometime in January, the Bamboovement was planning a trip with the Trans-Mongolian Express, from Moscow to Beijing by train. The idea was to meet up personally with our manufacturers and discuss the possibilities regarding product development. However, we figured we had to cancel these plans due to the developing coronavirus in China, already at the very beginning of 2020. Instead, we booked tickets for exhibitions and conferences closer to our home and would be going to London and Hamburg instead. What we didn’t know by then was that the whole world would soon be shaken up by a virus. One that would constantly be ahead of us. One that soon was to be called an undetectable enemy, according to different presidents around the globe. Disturbing, the very core of our lives. Let’s start at the beginning and go back to the times before the coronavirus was everyone’s #1 priority.
As we were going to London very soon, our way of getting there had to be arranged. It was only the weekend before the exhibition would take place when we started organizing it. As the Bamboovement is always on the move, flexible, creative and eying opportunities for creating a better world, little details like these tend to be taken care of last minute. Bus, plane, train or car? Due to a heavy load of products and goodie bags we took the car. We figured the drive from Amsterdam to London would take us around six hours. Pretty decent we thought. Until we found out that the Eurotunnel ticket that would allow us to hop on the train in Calais and hop off in Folkestone is not that cheap. At least, not when you’re planning like the Bamboovement and buy it a few days before your trip. The price was that surprising, almost €250 for two-way, that we started looking at other travelling methods. A two-way train ticket however turned out to be even more expensive. This was the moment when we discovered we could buy two-way plane tickets for less than €40,- each. Considering these ridiculous prices, even we at the Bamboovement were tempted.
But of course this was an absolute no-go. To buy plane tickets just because they are so cheap isn’t going to make the world a better place, even when you are promoting the use of sustainable products. So we decided to just buy that expensive Eurotunnel ticket and to plan our next trip to the UK a few weeks in advance.
Time to shine
The day we left wasn’t most holiday-like. Grey and rainy it was. Wet roads and chaotic traffic jams made the drive to Calais even more exhausting. However, all of this changed once we got off the train in England. An azure sky accompanied by a brightly shining sun awaited us. All too happy we interpreted this welcoming as an indisputably positive omen with regard to the two events we would be attending.
A conference by A Greener Festival (AGF) was the first. Festivals that had distinguished themselves, with respect to environmental-friendly, innovative, and creative approaches to a sustainable event, were going to be rewarded by AGF. This one-day event also provided a stage to many different speakers, with varying responsibilities and initiatives. It was so inspiring to hear all those ideas and intentions to transform festivals, into something more like sustainable and circular communities.
The second event was called HRC and enabled suppliers of hotels, restaurants, and caterings to display their assortment. During three days, a massive exhibition centre was turned into a confusing maze that blew your mind every time you’d turned a corner. Talking cleaning-robots taller than kids, pizza-ovens looking like UFOs that seemed manufactured by Ferrari, and stunning flowers growing in steeping teas are just a selection of the astonishing things the exhibition floor offered. For some reason, we were the only ones offering sustainable bamboo amenity kits. Lucky us. Many, many people showed genuine excitement once they discerned our stand. Our goodie bags with sustainable products did the rest. Over the days leads were followed up and everything looked very promising.
As time flew by it was time to head homewards again. We stepped into our car, still filled with faith in a bright future.
A surreal and disturbing transformation of life
When we reached the French mainland the sun was still shining, but unreal clouds seemed to be gathering. We received this disappointing email, notifying that our next event in Hamburg was postponed until further notice due to the coronavirus.
Soon after we got home, things escalated quickly. Countries went in lockdown, borders got closed, and normal life as we knew it stopped. Now, only several weeks later, things are getting ever more serious as the coronavirus ravages its way through the world and its toll becomes more and more visible. A large number of people have died so far and, sadly, it seems unavoidable that many more are yet to follow. Survivors need weeks or months to recover from the damage they sustained while being under ventilation. Others, those who lose their job or are otherwise forced to stay at home, will suffer financial hardship and mental health risks. Everything we had taken for granted, anywhere around the globe, seems to be affected by the current situation.
It is a historically tense situation in which we hope for all of you to stay healthy, both physically as well as mentally. Take care of yourself and those around you, and act responsibly. Please also listen to our policymakers and all hospital workers, who we are so proud of.
Despite everything, the Bamboovement wouldn’t be bambooving if we didn’t try to send you a positive message. There are things we have always taken for granted that weren’t positive at all. As a result of exploded tourism, Venice’s canals had gotten so contaminated over time that when they cleared up in recent weeks even locals were surprised to see fish living in them. Very poor air quality around the world seemed to be the norm, but air quality has improved impressively as a result of the quarantine measures, in China, Italy, and Spain. And wild life takes to the streets in big cities, making the beauty of our natural world visible to estranged city dwellers. These are little lights in an uncertain world, that can guide us to a better future and which the Bamboovement is more the willing to follow.
It’s heart-breaking to see that, only the hard way, we seem to understand the impact we have on our environment. So, once again, please take care of yourself, your loved ones, and also our environment. Because only together we can make our world a better place.