It might be hard to believe, but according to Botanics, Bamboo is actually a sort of grass, not a tree. The bamboo subfamily (Poaceae) comprises over 50 genera and 1000 species. Bamboos are typically fast-growing perennials distributed in tropical and sub-tropical regions. They are heavily concentrated in East and Southeast Asia, but you can still find Bamboos growing almost anywhere in the world, including the Himalayas. It is the fastest growing plant on Earth, holding a record of growing 120cm in 24 hours and its largest species can reach a height of 40 meters. Quite a piece of grass, ain’t it?
- Bamboo is the fastest growing plant on Earth;
- 30% more oxygen is released into the atmosphere by Bamboos compared to other plants;
- A great, sustainable resource. Stems keep growing directly from the roots, even after cutting the plant down;
- Bamboos prevent soil erosion – again due to its dense, deep root system that keeps growing even after cutting the stem;
- Bamboos don’t require any special conditions, chemicals or pesticides to grow fast – all necessary nutrients are provided by the plant’s leaves;
- Bamboo is so strong, it is used in construction. It is actually stronger than steel!
There’s basically no waste of Bamboo processing as every part of the plant has its application.
Bamboo is antibacterial thanks to its natural bio agent (Bamboo Kun) which effectively eliminates over 70% of the bacteria attacking the plant.
The fibre is widely used for its deodorising, breathable and absorbent qualities – socks, sheets, shirts and insoles to name a few are made of bamboo fibre.…
Bamboo charcoal eliminates organic impurities and smells; it purifies water removing residual chlorine and chlorides.
We should be already convinced Bamboo is truly an outstanding resource, but how eco-friendly is the bamboo textile?
The bamboo fibre is a material with undeniable qualities and theoretically an eco-friendly alternative to synthetic fibres – comes from a sustainable source, antibacterial, breathable, absorbent, deodorising. Still, processing bamboo fibre to textile is not necessarily so nature friendly.
There are two methods of extracting fabric from the bamboo plant. The mechanical method starts with crushing the plants into a mush, using natural enzymes to break it down and then combining out the fibres and spinning them into a yarn. The produced fabric resembles linen and is often called bamboo linen.
The bamboo fabric you can often find is unfortunately bamboo rayon – a fabric produced by using the chemical method which involves a cocktail of chemical solvents and bleaches. Sodium hydroxide and carbon disulphide are most commonly used and are harmful to both the nature and the workers exposed to them. So, keep that in mind.
Bamboo shoots are a delicious, healthy and nutritious food not only for the pandas but for us too. Making it a part of your diet will lower your cholesterol and blood pressure levels, support your digestive system, improve the condition of your teeth, gums, bones, nails and musculoskeletal system. It is also very low in calories (only 13kcal and 0,5 grams of fat per bowl), rich in fibre, potassium and phytochemicals which help boost the immune system and fight different bacteria, viruses, fungi and even cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.
The high silicon content is not just good for the skin and hair but helps the body better absorb calcium and magnesium which on its end improves the cardiovascular system condition and brain function.
Bamboo stem and leaf extracts are widely used in the cosmetics industry, especially in skin and hair products. It restructures, nourishes and strengthens both skin and hair; helps skin cells regenerate.
- Reduces skin irritation;
- Helps control autoimmune skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis;
- Cleans hair follicles;
- Deeply cleans the scalp;
- Moisturises skin and hair
Bamboo’s precious mechanical properties are very useful in construction. The plant cylindrical stem has a wall of strong vertical fibre surrounding the stem cavity making the material extremely light and strong. The cavities prevent the stem from bending so it is mainly used for columns. The strength-to-weight ratio of bamboo makes it stronger than steel and twice as durable as concrete. Bamboo constructions are both wind and earthquake proof. Bamboo is also used for deckings, floorings and sidings.
In a sentence – you can have a 100% bamboo construction.
Are bamboo products biodegradable?
Shortly, yes, they are. In a few more words – given the right composting conditions it takes about 1 year to biodegrade bamboo products.
Even though it takes some processing for bamboo to reach the shelves as a final product, it can still be considered eco-friendly. The biggest advantage being that bamboo products and textiles are biodegradable.
Bamboo and Ecology
Planting bamboo forests could be a viable option to fight deforestation worldwide.
We are facing the challenge of polluted air in big cities, no matter if it is due to car engines, manufacturing facilities or just people using brick and coal for heating, for the lack of other options. Planting bamboo in the cities, especially between and around street lanes will drastically improve the quality of the air we breathe.
Regarding deforestation and the increasing number of deserts it creates, it could be overcome by planting bamboo forests that grow dense in no time. Bamboo grows fast (about 4 years from planting to initial harvest) in diverse climate conditions and spreads on its own due its massive root system. Bamboo forests are usually very dense as the plant’s root system grows deep rather than wide. And if you think that the lack of a big crown means less oxygen release, you are wrong – bamboo would release about 30% more oxygen into the atmosphere compared to any other plant on Earth, even the Amazon rain forests! This is actually a much discussed option to fight the greenhouse effect.