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Bamboo For the Future of Our Planet

All of a sudden, bamboo seems to be everywhere: bamboo bed sheets, bamboo flooring, bamboo furniture and kitchen products. Why now? 

We are waking up to the crisis of unsustainable consumerism that is harming our planet. 

We are responding to this environmental emergency by taking charge of our lives and the future of our planet. Increasingly we are learning about the toxicity of plastic. We are disheartened by photos of trash washed up on beautiful beaches, threatening our wildlife and marine life, contaminating our rivers, overflowing in landfills.

Creative minds are responding to this crossroads by inventing sustainable, clean, and accessible alternatives.

One encouraging solution is bamboo products.

Bamboo is a resilient and versatile plant. It is strong, adaptable, and fast-growing, so it is classified as a sustainable material. It only takes about 2 to 4 years to regrow bamboo stocks that have been fully cut down, compared to 30 to 40 years for a tree to regrow (1).

Bamboo doesn’t need pesticides to prosper, so these harmful chemicals don’t end up in the earth or in our products. Also, because the bamboo plant doesn’t require a lot of water, it helps farmers conserve this precious resource. (2)

In recent years, bamboo has been used in many creative ways: in Jamaica, it is being explored as a substitute for charcoal (3); in Idaho, a man is designing bamboo ski poles (4); in Indonesia, they are using bamboo for earthquake-resistant home construction (5); and bamboo is even being developed as a material for shin pads! (6)

These innovative projects demonstrate the versatility and possibility of the bamboo plant as one significant solution to threats to the environment.  Using bamboo as material for a variety of consumer goods helps us preserve the world’s forests, and many recyclable or biodegradable bamboo products are replacing plastic ones and are widely available to consumers. (7)

However, as with anything in life, bamboo is not a “cure all” solution to all environmental ills. Not all bamboo is grown, harvested, and processed carefully.

Consumers must be mindful while shopping for items made with bamboo because not all bamboo products are actually environmentally friendly and non-toxic. We want to look for products where bamboo is closest to its natural form, such as wood and plastic replacements like bamboo utensils or bowls.

Bamboo fabric is more complicated because in order to soften and process the plant, chemicals are required. Just as whole foods are better than refined ones, it is better to choose bamboo products that look like bamboo. 

Consumers should always be careful about new trends, and buy from sites and stores they trust to choose sustainable and non-toxic materials. The good news is that bamboo shows a great deal of promise as a replacement for plastics and an alternative to wood. 

Sources Cited:

  1. Judana Murphy, “The Future is Bamboo.” The Gleaner. Accessed January 2020. http://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/lead-stories/20191231/future-bamboo-jamaicans-encouraged-go-green-multiuse-wonder-plant
  2. “What is Bamboo?” American Bamboo Society. Accessed December 2019. https://bamboo.org/resources/what-is-bamboo
  3. Judana Murphy, “The Future is Bamboo.” The Gleaner. Accessed January 2020. http://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/lead-stories/20191231/future-bamboo-jamaicans-encouraged-go-green-multiuse-wonder-plant
  4. Mary Malone, “Booyah Bamboo Made Locally.” Bonner County Daily Bee. Accessed January 2020. https://www.bonnercountydailybee.com/business/20191227/booyah_bamboo_made_locally
  5. Lizzie Crook, “Ramboll uses Bamboo to build earthquake-resistant housing in Indonesia.” DeZeen. Accessed January 2020. https://www.dezeen.com/2019/12/31/bamboo-template-houses-ramboll-earthquake-indonesia/
  6. Luke Bradshaw, “Meet the Men Bringing Bamboo to the Beautiful Game with Sustainable Shin Pads.” YahooSportsUK. Accessed January 2020. https://sports.yahoo.com/meet-the-men-bringing-bamboo-to-the-beautiful-game-with-sustainable-shinpads-175810545.html?guccounter=1&guce_referrer=aHR0cHM6Ly93d3cuZ29vZ2xlLmNvbS8&guce_referrer_sig=AQAAAHuYu32mun8coogFd-EBROGQ5CrTPJsLZvZypfNbQ7E8vtwUYT2spBLtiQjSWmaF7e742JjoC2BQ7dS95uz-4q7ilnFdtaBvGK6gbhpJj_2LtvCO0IaEscfDjzzHI_kzttg4_uOzk98pCM_U3H3caHDLyNPpCbyWGP3fbloK-1sY
  7. “Bamboo Straws Market Report Explored in Latest Research” PharmiWeb.com. Accessed January 2020. https://www.pharmiweb.com/press-release/2020-01-02/bamboo-straws-market-report-explored-in-latest-research

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