From being the main crop of a farm to be harvested for other uses, or as the channel linings for irrigation systems, bamboo fits naturally into agriculture. Of course, bamboo is also grown as a food source, and as a garden plant as well, the woody grass being an excellent addition to any garden. Bamboo has been used for eons for many applications, from a food source to a building material. But with the age of modern materials, many people don’t understand the scope of uses for bamboo. The shoots can be picked early for eating, and the wood of older canes can be treated and used as anything from decoration to instruments. Thankfully, many manufacturers have seen all the products that can be made from this highly renewable resource and have begun to utilize bamboo in some fascinating ways. It seems like hundreds of products can be made from bamboo. From household items to the entire house, bamboo products are nothing new to society. Ancient civilizations were using bamboo for building, long before they were using other materials and this trend has faded slightly over the centuries. But now, it is making a comeback in parts of the world, becoming a popular resource.
Bamboo produces more oxygen and absorbs more carbon dioxide than trees, which means that each and every bamboo shoot is doing its part to combat climate change. With bamboo being used more often as a building material this helps save hardwood trees from logging and, in the long run, our dying forests.
The unfortunate and negative effects we have made on the environment throughout history have been astonishing. Today, there still are many unsustainable harvesting practices in the world. Many of these unsustainable harvesting plantations are making changes to correct the unfortunate footprint they are undeniably leaving on this earth. But one plant in particular is already being harvested in an extremely eco-friendly way: BAMBOO. Bamboo is used to make extremely soft material, and sleeping in bamboo bedding is like being tossed into a pit made of the world’s softest pillows. But the real question is: How is bamboo forging a path towards a world where harvesting does not leave this planet with mass amounts of environmental damage?
The bamboos are evergreen perennial flowering plants. Bamboos include some of the fastest-growing plants in the world, due to a unique rhizome-dependent system. Giant bamboos are the largest members of the grass family. Bamboos are of notable economic and cultural significance in South Asia, Southeast Asia and East Asia, being used for building materials, as a food source, and as a versatile raw product.
There are over 1000 species of bamboo. This amazing plant grows in tropical and temperate environments and is very hardy, not needing pesticides or herbicides to grow well. It is a type of grass and grows from its roots, when it is cut, it quickly grows back with most species maturing in 3-5 years.
Some facts about the sustainability of bamboo are:
- It is grown without pesticides or chemical fertilizers
- It requires no irrigation
- It rarely needs replanting
- It grows rapidly and can be harvested in 3-5 years
- It produces 35% more oxygen that an equivalent stand of trees
- It sequesters carbon dioxide and is carbon neutral
- It is a critical element in the balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere
- It is an excellent soil erosion inhibitor
- It grows in a wide range of environments
- Its production into fibres has lower environmental impact than other forms of fibre, especially synthetic ones.
Bamboo has long been used in Asia for everything from buildings to chopsticks but there is now an increasing interest in Europe to exploit it as a replacement for traditional structural materials. Because it is stiff, strong and grows very rapidly, the engineers say it can be ‘a key’ sustainable resource as it can substitute for more limited resources like hardwood, metal ores and petroleum products.