In Asian cultures, bamboo has been used as a building material for thousands of years. As the world becomes more environmentally conscious, however, many are in a sense going retro, abandoning modern construction materials for traditional bamboo. There are numerous reasons why so many people are going green with eco-friendly bamboo products. Some are practical, while some are cost effective, while still others simply do so for the health of the earth and bamboo’s many ecological benefits.
1. Bamboo grows incredibly fast
Although it’s heartier than many trees, bamboo is actually a grass. In fact, it’s the fastest growing plant in the world. Bamboo’s fast growth enables frequent harvesting without causing damage to the ecosystem of bamboo forests. On average, bamboo can grow up to about 24 inches in a single day, while some species can grow nearly 48 inches. Bamboo has the potential to achieve its full height and thickness in a 3-to-4-month growing season.
Bamboo is best harvested sustainably between the 3rd and 7th years of a growing cycle. After the second year, bamboo forests continue to harden and grow into more mature bamboo plants, although they will start to die and decay after 7 to 8 years. The plant roots, however, remain healthy, so after the older bamboo die, new shoots take their place, growing even bigger and thicker than the previous generation. Compare that to hardwood forests, which can take hundreds of years to recover after logging.
2. Bamboo plants produce a high yield
In a single harvest, you can get 20 times more building material from bamboo than you can with hardwood trees. A harvest of a single bamboo stand can yield over 200 poles in 5 years, so there’s no scarcity. Bamboo’s abundance keeps prices low, making it much more affordable.
3. Bamboo is stronger than hardwood
Bamboo is stronger than steel and heartier than most hardwoods, so you know you are buying a high-quality material with high durability. Not only is it more affordable, but bamboo produces a higher quality of wood than hardwood trees do — making it a valuable building material.
4. Bamboo production creates livelihoods in impoverished countries
Bamboo grows best in tropical conditions and has the ability to provide economic sustenance to developing countries, improving stability for impoverished populations. As bamboo’s popularity increases, it offers a sustainable way of making a living — all from a grass that grows like a weed.
5. Bamboo is better for the air
Bamboo produces more oxygen and absorbs more carbon dioxide than trees, combating global warming with each bamboo shoot that is planted. Because the use of bamboo as a building material saves more hardwood trees from logging, the push for bamboo can help combat climate change.
6. Bamboo helps control soil erosion
Bamboo has a widespread root system as well as an enveloping canopy, which makes it a great water barrier to control soil erosion. Bamboo is widely used in a number of developing countries to protect crops and villages from washing away. Bamboo’s high nitrogen consumption helps mitigate water pollution, and its roots are good for the soil.
7. Bamboo is highly versatile
Bamboo can be used in a wide range of products, from paper to construction materials and flooring. There’s bamboo furniture, bamboo sheets, bamboo yoga blocks and more. Some of the first paper products were made from bamboo, and today it is widely used to make a soft but durable bamboo clothing as well as to build fences, walls, bridges, bicycles, skateboards, helmets and computer keyboards. As bamboo’s popularity increases, it’s being used in more and more products, creating many beautiful ways for you to green your home and your lifestyle.