Why We Use Bamboo
There is simply so much to love about bamboo, our favorite rapidly renewable grass. There are also many kinds of non-renewable materials that it can replace, especially any product made from tree-pulp and many types of plastic used in fiber production.
Bamboo is a self-regenerating raw material with a continuous production of new shoots. It does not die when it is cut down; it replenishes itself.
Ordinary trees have to be cultivated from seedlings, and need to grow for several decades to produce timber. The trees are cut and then new trees have to be planted again as seedlings to create a new forest. Bamboo grows into a forest by reproducing itself and continuously provides timber. It is a surprising resource for the future ; one that contributes to global economic growth as a green alternative to traditional timber.
The recent trend in ‘branding’ bamboo as a green material is based on the belief that bamboo holds the promise of a sustainable, cost effective, and ecologically benign alternative to the widespread clear-cutting of old growth forests and dwindling timber resources. Because of the merits of bamboo growing fast and its subsequent re-growth after cutting, it is indeed a renewable resource. And much like a giant lung, living forests breathe. It has been estimated that bamboo’s leafy canopy possibly releases 25 percent more oxygen than a comparable cluster of hardwood trees, especially since the bamboo re-grows and reproduces a canopy many times in its lifespan. In the renewing process, the bamboo plant grabs carbon dioxide from the air and holds it within its culm (stem) and root system where, in nature, it is not released until the soil in which the plant decomposes is cultivated. It is becoming generally accepted that one major cause of climate change is the rising levels of gasses in the earth’s atmosphere, primarily serious is that of rising levels of carbon dioxide. Products made from bamboo take that carbon out of circulation. Bamboo products which are sustainably harvested and properly manufactured can last for many generations, keeping carbon locked up over the life of the products and helping to offset carbon usage that occurs in the product shipping distances to the end-market.
Industrial bamboo products derived using best-practice technology, (even when used in the United States) can be labeled “CO2 neutral or better”. The high annual yield of bamboo, in combination with its durable root structure which enables growth in difficult habitats such as marginal lands and eroded slopes, is one of the most promising solutions in the required shift towards renewable materials.
Due to its amazing mechanical properties (hardness, dimensional stability, etc. ) and appealing looks, industrial bamboo products compete with A-quality hardwoods. In terms of annual yield as well as eco-costs and carbon footprint, industrial bamboo products score well compared to FSC hardwood (van der Lugt et al. 2009).
Bamboo is better because it is a eco‐friendly, highly renewable resource. Sustainably managed bamboo plantations can stimulate social and economic development, and serve important ecological and biological functions to improve Planet Earth.
The Bottom Line For Bamboo
Buying bamboo products not only alleviates the burden of trees around the world (and in some cases, replaces plastic material in products, i.e., wet wipes, disposable utensils, packaging, etc.), but it has reduced poverty for many rural Chinese with the great potential to reduce poverty for many others worldwide as we demonstrate a demand for this rapidly renewable grass elsewhere.
What About Bamboo Agriculture in the United States?
Bamboo has also been projected as a “new cash crop” for the USA’s economically-depressed Mississippi Delta, to replace exhausted cotton, and touted as the next “microsoft of the business world” according to Canadian Senator Doug Finley. As we build a future for bamboo in North America, it is critical to appreciate the beneficial aspect of bamboo imports in regards to helping us alleviate the burden of our own forestlands for pulp and paper products.
The Future of Bamboo
Bamboo is one of the oldest and hardiest grasses on the planet for which the surface has only been scratched in terms of its utilization. As traditional woods for tree-pulp rayon textiles and tree-pulp disposable products become less available and more expensive, the demand for manufactured bamboo will increase exponentially.
We believe that by replacing our tissues and other non-wovens fibers (disposables) with bamboo will have a positive impact on some of the biggest environmental threats that are already at our doorstep or lurk just around the corner. These include the outcomes from water overuse, water pollution, rampant pesticide use, landfills overfilled with synthetic materials, and deforestation.
Do You Need More Information?
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