“Going green,” that is, reducing the negative environmental impacts of the products we buy and the manner in which we use them has become a major driving force in the modern marketplace. In recent years, a “bamboo boom” has sprouted up among environmentally conscious consumers who are searching for the greenest ways to do everything, opting for eco products even when they cost a bit more, and taking green tips as seriously as they take job-search tips or health and wellness tips.
What Makes Bamboo So Green?
Bamboo is an extraordinary plant with a unique set of characteristics that set it apart as particularly eco friendly. Some of the most important reasons why bamboo stands out as special among eco products are as follows:
Its growth rate is phenomenal, sometimes as high as four feet a day. It matures in only seven years’ time, far faster than the 30 to 50 years required to regrow a harvested stand of trees.
The “wood” yield of a bamboo grove can be up to 20 times higher than that of a tree grove covering the same geometric area.
Bamboo does not require fertilizer, pesticide, or even a large quantity of water to survive, thrive, grow rapidly, and spread quickly over a plot of ground.
Unlike most tree species (bamboo is a grass), bamboo is self-regenerating. That is, it sends out fresh shoots every year, which replace any culms (stalks) that were previously removed.
Bamboo creates more oxygen than a timber stand of the same size, estimated at around 35 percent more.
Soils planted in bamboo experience little erosion, and it is often planted on hills and slopes to stabilize the terrain.
In sum, using bamboo is considered a valid step in the process of going green because bamboo is a quickly renewable resource that improves local eco systems and requires no artificial growing aids. By buying bamboo products, customers will incentivise businesses to care for existing bamboo forests as well as plant new ones rather than to foolishly deplete and destroy the raw materials on which their profitability depends.
What Products Are Made of Bamboo Fibre These Days?
Bamboo has been a part of the economies and cultures of many Asian nations for millennia, particularly in China. Bamboo houses, furniture, floor mats, hats, sandals, livestock pens, chopsticks, fishing rafts, musical instruments, and more have long been manufactured in the East. Despite various bamboo species being native to Europe and the southeastern U.S., bamboo was long of more limited and ornamental use in the West. Now, however, all that is beginning to change.
Both the environmental and economic potential of marketing bamboo fibre products has come to the attention of businesses all over the world over the last decade or so. In the course of this “bamboo revolution,” the bamboo industry has offered the public numerous bamboo products, including the following:
Bamboo kitchenware and bamboo utensils. Now not just chopsticks but serving spoons, spatulas, platters, coasters, mixing bowls, and more are commonly built from bamboo. These items do not absorb flavors, resist staining, are anti-bacterial, and are lighter and stronger than most equivalent wood products.
Bamboo flooring. Bamboo offers elegant beauty, stylistic variety, long durability, easy maintenance, and water resistance as a hardwood flooring product. Bamboo properties, in this case, are largely similar to those of wood, while benefiting the environment and costing about the same price.
Bamboo construction panels. The advent of modern methods of forming composite bamboo panels, laminates, and plywoods has rendered bamboo a viable alternative to wood timbers in many construction situations. New methods of securing bamboo poles have also given bamboo structures greater load-bearing capabilities than they had in the past.
Bamboo textiles. Fabrics are now being made from bamboo fibres and used to make shirts, socks, towels, diapers, bedding, and a whole array of “eco-chic” cloth products that as functional as they are novel. Specifically, bamboo clothing is up to four times as absorbent than cotton, wicking moisture away form the body. It is also soft, silky, quick-drying, UV-resistant, anti-bacterial, strong, warm in cold weather, and dry in hot weather.
More traditional uses of bamboo have also continued and become more popular, including: handicrafts, furniture, and room-dividing screens. Thus, bamboo is booming in ways both old and new.
What Are the Best Ways of Processing Bamboo?
While the benefits of bamboo are many and diverse and eco-friendliness is the main driving force of bamboo’s recent market surge, some ways are processing bamboo are more environmentally desirable than others. Some of the differences and preferences to look for in the manufacturing process include:
Some bamboo is harvested from certified organic sources, while other bamboo is not. Look for products with verifiably sustainable, organic sources whenever possible.
Be sure that bamboo kitchenware and bamboo utensils have no glues, lacquer coatings, or other artificial additives that could leach into or otherwise contaminate your food.
Bamboo fabric is often made using harsh chemicals and heavy bleaching, which still has a lower environmental impact than the process by which cotton, nylon, or polyester clothing is made. However, other companies leave the bamboo fibres in their natural color, unbleached. They also use mechanical instead of chemical processing of the bamboo pulp used in creating the fabric, which is far more eco-friendly.
Again, it is important to remember that even less than perfect methods of creating bamboo products still take a lesser toll on the environment than the alternatives and that creating a demand for bamboo preserves rather than destroys bamboo forests. Furthermore, as much bamboo in the world is grown and harvested by 600 million people who largely live in poverty, buying bamboo can help better their state and thus serve kind of humanitarian purpose as well.
What Health Benefits of Bamboo Are There?
Many people opt for bamboo cookware and hygienic fabrics, in part, because of human instead of only environmental health considerations. While some of these points have been touched on above, it will be convenient to list them here together for easy reference:
Bamboo is naturally anti-microbial, which makes it perfect for use in hospitals as well as in the home kitchen. The natural agent in bamboo that curtails bacterial growth is called “bamboo kun.” Anything that reduces the risks of disease is well worth investing in.
Bamboo is, depending on the manufacturer, 100 percent chemical-free. No chemical additives are needed to fight germs, remain strong and durable, resist stains, and look beautiful. No pesticides are even used in cultivating it. Chemical-free is always safer, and bamboo achieves this without limiting its usefulness.
Bamboo naturally protects against potentially harmful UV-light exposure. Bamboo fabrics scored 94 percent UVA blockage and 93 percent UVB blockage in UPF tests.
The health benefits of eating bamboo shoots, for their potassium and dietary fibre, have long been acknowledged by health and wellness experts, but only more recently have the health benefits of using bamboo products been discovered as well.
Bamboo has risen dramatically in popularity and diversified greatly in usage in recent years. This change has been driven by concern for the environment among consumers but also by practical usefulness and health concerns. Buying bamboo has much to offer and few drawbacks. The bamboo boom is only likely to grow as the public becomes more aware of the many benefits that bamboo offers.
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