The Many Marvels of Bamboo

(Image provided by Pixabay)

Written by Christel Schultz

Bamboo may be one of the most versatile and sustainable materials available…

A number of attributes make it a viable option for buildings, clothing, food, and more. However, the benefits are not limited to its multitude of uses.  Some bamboo sustainability facts include:

  • Requires no irrigation
  • Grows rapidly, can be harvested in 3-5 years and rarely needs replanting
  • Grown without chemical fertilizers or pesticides
  • Grows in a variety of climates and environments
  • Provides exceptional erosion control
  • Produces more oxygen than an equivalent stand of trees

Pine and oak trees, for instance, take decades to mature. Types of bamboo can grow nearly three feet in one day. When forests are cut down, the stumps may remain or be burned to prepare for planting crops. Trees do not grow as quickly as forests are cut down. Soil erosion is likely to occur under these conditions. Bamboo roots remain in the ground after harvest. They prevent erosion and help to maintain nutrients in the soil. New growth shoots emerge from the root system without replanting. Minimal waste is generated from bamboo harvesting because nearly every part of the plant is used. It can replace wood in the production of paper, flooring, or furniture. The fibers are strong and less likely to warp. In fact, the tensile strength of bamboo is 28,000 pounds per square inch (psi) – stronger than steel! Using bamboo just makes practical sense in several applications.

There are other benefits to consider, too. Bamboo thrives in a variety of environmental conditions including arid regions and low-lying wetlands. It can survive in a number of places where many other plants do not. Because it thrives in a wide array of climates, bamboo is a possible crop for less developed countries where resources and economic opportunities are scarce.

Organizations and companies around the world are working to promote bamboo cultivation and use. Establishing sustainable agricultural lands will help to combat deforestation, provide jobs for indigenous populations, and create products useful to people throughout different cultures. Rising to meet the increasing demand for this impressive material can benefit communities around the globe. The World Bamboo Organization consists of individual people, commercial businesses, non-profit associations, institutions, and allied trade corporations dedicated to promoting the use of bamboo and bamboo products for the sake of the environment and economy. A United States based group that promotes the beauty and utility of bamboo is the American Bamboo Society. I encourage you to visit their websites to learn more!

You can also dig a little deeper into the uses of bamboo by visiting the links below to explore some unique projects and items:

  • Ghana Bamboo Bikes Initiative is a social enterprise that addresses climate change, poverty, rural-urban migration and youth unemployment by creating jobs for young people, especially women, through the building of high quality bamboo bicycles. (Image courtesy of Ghana Bamboo Bikes Initiative)
  • bogobrush bamboo toothbrush with nylon bristles is 100% biodegradable, and for every brush purchased, another brush is provided to someone in need. (Image courtesy of bogobrush)

  • Earthly Goods offers a number of attractive and useful bamboo items for marketing or gift purposes. Personalize for friends or clients, even add your company logo – options to satisfy all tastes and price ranges! 
  • NOVICA works in association with National Geographic to create a collection of jewelry pieces from around the globe. Because shopping at NOVICA directly impacts the lives of international artisans, your bamboo jewelry purchase forges a meaningful connection between you and the artist who crafted your unique piece. Every purchase supports NOVICA’s mission to spread happiness by celebrating exploration, empowering artists, and preserving global culture.
  • Bamboo Skateboards was created in 2008 when the founders learned that the demand for maple skateboards was having a destructive effect on old-growth forests. They created an eco-friendly alternative to maple decks that provides superior durability and performance at a competitive cost. They believe that skating bamboo connects with a broader community of positive, peaceful, health conscious people. Check out their upcoming “Destruction Series” designed to raise awareness concerning the devastation of our valleys, rivers, oceans, and forests. (Image courtesy of Bamboo Skateboards)




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