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Bamboo: The Eco-Friendly Facts


Over the past few years, bamboo has become one of the most popular plants of the modern environmental movement. Is this simply the latest ecological ideology attempting to ‘greenwash’ us? Or is there substance behind this ever growing trend?

Let’s demystify and take a look at some of the key facts surrounding one of the largest and most unique members of the grass family:

FACT 1: Quick regeneration cycle
Bamboo is one of the fastest growing plants on the planet, with some species gaining up to an incredible 4 foot in just one day. To put this into perspective, it typically takes between 30 – 50 years for a tree to regenerate, a massive 60 – 100 times slower than a bamboo pole which can regenerate in just 6 months. With statistics as impressive as these, many people believe that the effects of global warming could be completely reversed in just 6 years by planting bamboo on a mass basis.

FACT 2: Renewable resource
Bamboo is considered a rapidly renewable resource due to the high speed it grows. Unlike trees, bamboo stems can be cut without killing the plant. It will then continue to grow and can be harvested again and again, without harming the environment.

FACT 3: Sustainable natural material
Bamboo is seen by some as a major player in the fight to help the planet. It has earned this reputation for a number of reasons including the following:

    Bamboo…

  • Reduces the pressure on forests through wood substitution.
  • Releases 35% more oxygen per hectare than its equivalent in trees.
  • Can be produced in rural environments, reducing industrial impacts.
  • Grows without any input from humans.
  • Acts as a good soil and water conservation tool.
  • Helps stabilise the earth with its roots, preventing erosion.


FACT 4: Durable and strong
Bamboo has been tested as one of the strongest building materials available, with a greater strength to weight ratio than Oak (considered the most durable hardwood), graphite or even steel. In comparison to steel, which can typically resist a maximum of 37kN/cm2, bamboo has a tensile strength of up to 40kN/cm2, which is why it is traditionally used to test Japanese Samurai. The strength, coupled with the hollow form that bamboo grows in, offers a very efficient structure, which is why it is considered to be a great material to use when building. In addition to the sheer strength and sturdiness of bamboo, it does not swell or shrink, unlike wood, making it an extremely durable material.

FACT 5: Versatile uses
The materials bamboo can act as a substitute for, or other uses that have been found for it are endless, here is just a sample:

Food: Bamboo shoots are edible. They are widely used in numerous Asian dishes and are now readily available in supermarkets around the world in a variety of forms.

Construction: Traditionally bamboo has only been commonly associated with East Asia and South Pacific cultures. However, the more recent rise in awareness of the impact human behaviour is having on the environment, has resulted in a massive increase in the use of bamboo as a building material around the globe.  The many uses found for bamboo within the construction industry include scaffolding, bridges, flooring, suspension bridge cables, walls, roof supports and fencing to name a few.

Textiles: Clothing that has been made from bamboo is very soft to the touch, similar to cashmere. It is marketed by manufacturers as material that is breathable, luxuriously comfortable and ideal for sensitive skin.

Musical instruments:
The hollow structure of bamboo makes it an obvious choice of material when making musical instruments. Many different types of musical instruments have been made from bamboo such as flutes, violins, guitars, didgeridoos, jaw harps, drums, panpipes and saxophones.

Transport: Ok, perhaps the heading ‘transport’ is a bit broad, more specifically bamboo is commonly used to make bicycles. The strong, yet hollow and light nature of bamboo makes it a great choice of material for bicycles.

Laptops (I kid you not!): A company called Asus International officially launched the latest eco-friendly and partially made from bamboo laptops, namely, the U33Jc and the U53Jc.

To summarise this fact finding mission, bamboo can be 100% naturally grown, without the need for assistance from humans, and it is 100% sustainable.  It also thrives naturally without having to use any pesticides or fertilizers.

So, should we expect to be living in bamboo houses, in bamboo cities, driving around in bamboo cars on bamboo roads by 2025? Perhaps a little ambitious, however, the facts outlined above do seem to speak for themselves and strongly suggest that bamboo could and should continue to be used for commercial reasons. The ability to be mass harvested whilst inflicting minimal or no harm on the environment, results in many believing bamboo to be one of the worlds most influential plants, an impressive talent to have in an age with an ever declining ozone layer. If an international energy crisis is the present, then bamboo could be the future…


Author: Claire Glover (07927 829844 / claireinnewbury@googlemail.com)

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