The benefits of bamboo are almost endless. Just some of the uses of this highly versatile plant include as a building material, in alternative medicine, as food for livestock, in meals for humans, in flooring and furniture, for organic charcoal and as a natural fibre fabric.
Here’s 7 reasons why bamboo is a more sustainable option than cotton and hardwood:
One of the best benefits of bamboo is that it’s an extremely fast-growing plant; it quite literally has the Guinness World Record. Bamboo can grow up to 91cm (3ft) in a single day!
Many other natural materials (here’s looking at you, cotton) require synthetic pesticides and fertilisers to grow commercially. The chemical runoff from these plantations is horrendous for the environment. These toxic chemicals are also harmful to local insect populations as well as farm workers. Bamboo is naturally anti-microbial and requires no agricultural chemicals for a successful harvest.
Bamboo has a renewable status because of its fast-growing nature. It is a natural composite material with a high strength-to-weight ratio, similar to hardwood. However, it takes a fraction of the time to grow. With deforestation of ancient forests running rampant across the planet, bamboo is a much more sustainable choice.
In a warming world, bamboo requires significantly less water to grow than many other crops. It often grows in wet, tropical climates. This means bamboo doesn’t require irrigation or the use of groundwater unlike cotton, one of the most water-intensive crops.
All plants take in CO2 and produce oxygen, but bamboo contains more biomass per acre than many other plants. In other words, bamboo performs this process more efficiently. It converts up to 35% more CO2 into oxygen per acre than hardwood forests.
Bamboo doesn’t require replanting after harvesting. That’s because bamboo grows a new shoot and begins to tower all over again. This leads to an extensive root system that protects soil from erosion.
You can eat it
Another benefit of bamboo is the fact that it’s edible for humans and animals. Moreover, it’s also used in alternative medicine.
Research into biofuels suggests they may be a cleaner alternative to fossil fuels. Bamboo is a possible non-food biofuel crop that scientists are testing.
There are many species of bamboo and it can survive all over the world including cold areas.
Cons of bamboo wood and fabric
Unfortunately, bamboo isn’t perfect. Bamboo wood products such as flooring often require resins that can emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These are questionable for our health and the environment. Meanwhile, cheap bamboo products are often harvested too young or not processed properly. This can make them susceptible to damage and a shorter life span.
To turn the stalks into fibres, cheap bamboo fabric is often exposed to all sorts of nasty chemicals. However, most conventional fabrics are exposed to a similar toxic chemical soup during processing and dyeing. Above all, it’s important to remember that even the most seemingly sustainable fibres have an environmental impact.
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Overall, bamboo is a miracle plant because of its variety of uses and speedy growing ability.
As deforestation persists and cotton farming continues to desecrate the environment, there are many benefits of bamboo when compared with cotton and hardwood. That’s because bamboo offers a more eco-friendly and sustainable solution to hardwood and fabric.
Cheap bamboo products are often poor quality and emit toxic chemicals. A bamboo product isn’t automatically sustainable. Do your research and look into a bamboo brand’s processes to ensure you’re getting a safe and sustainable product.