Bamboo based products are becoming widely available in our shops and stores, regarded as an alternative to plastic and many other non-renewable materials. What is so good about bamboo? Find out here.
Bamboo is quickly being acknowledged as a very significant material in the drive for increased global sustainability. It is the fastest growing form of grass on the planet and is considered a readily available natural substitute to endangered tropical hardwood.
Bamboo is an incredibly sustainable resource, quick growing without the use of chemical fertilizer and completely biodegradable. In the right conditions bamboo can grow up to a foot per day.
Like all grasses it is endlessly renewable, growing new shoots from its root system immediately after being harvested, a whole harvest will regenerate in 3-5 years. Because no fertilizers are used in its cultivation, bamboo affords better protection for the growing environment, the farmer and the end-user. The environmental impact of bamboo is significantly reduced compared to tree cultivation – it grows many times faster than trees, absorbs and fixes greenhouse gasses, uses much less water, produces up to 35% more oxygen and, because it is naturally antibacterial, doesn’t need pesticides or herbicides to prosper.
This incredibly versatile material has a wide range of uses and can be harvested throughout its seasonal growth according to the intended application. Sprouting shoots can be eaten after 30 days growth, after six months the wood is suitable for handcraft and basketry and after three years growth the plant is strong and dense enough to be used on construction projects. Throughout its growing cycle the bamboo can be harvested and its cellulose fibre extracted to produce textile yarn for use in clothing, blankets and other woven items.
Disposing of nappies and other sanitary items is an increasing problem that can be offset by the use of bamboo as constituent material. Bamboo nappies are sustainable, organic and compostable.
In parts of Asia kitchen and household utensils have traditionally been crafted from bamboo and are now a viable alternative to mass produced plastic. Plastic toothbrushes and cutlery are causing untold damage to our oceans and wildlife, something that can be easily rrested by switching to compostable, biodegradeable bamboo alternatives.
Consuming organic produce needn’t stop with foodstuffs, we can effectively furnish our homes with organic bamboo furniture, carpets and curtains. We can dress our families entirely in bamboo clothing and equip our kitchens with bamboo homeware while our children play with organic bamboo toys.
Bamboo is also a way for impoverished communities to become economically self-sufficient. It is cheap and easy to farm without the need for chemicals or heavy machinery, producing a valuable source of subsistence, shelter and every-day commodities.
Bamboo is consistently used to combat adverse environmental conditions, providing storm cover and stabilising river banks in flood zones, protecting vulnerable landscapes and preventing soil erosion.
Although we associate bamboo with its more its traditional uses for handicrafts and household items, modern engineered applications are being developed which include structural timber, sheeting and fibre particle boards, plywood and other laminates, all vital materials used in construction and interior architecture. With continued research and development using emergent technologies bamboo will soon be use to produce high strength bio-composites that may well change the way we design and build modern structures.
The future does look good for bamboo as it continues to thrive in popularity worldwide. With a little care it can replace many of the components and materials that are currently damaging our fragile eco-system while managing to protect the environment that nurtures it.