In the not-too-distant past, the mention of bamboo may have conjured images of panda bears shredding through a stand of green stalks in their daily quest for food. But we get it now. As the world’s fastest growing plant, this exotic growth is both earth-friendly and extremely useful for making the quality products that we need.
Although bamboo is sometimes mistaken for a tree, it’s actually a grass. This may sound like a primitive material to use for things like bowls and cutting boards, but nothing could be further from the truth.

Bamboo equals boutique products


The first thing that bamboo has going for it is the fact that it’s beautiful to look at. It has an interesting grain that is both elegant and natural looking. While esthetics are important for any quality product, the benefits of bamboo multiply from there.

Durability

Bamboo is stronger than oak. According to Business Insider, the tensile strength of bamboo is 28,000 pounds per square inch. Compare that with the tensile strength of mild steel at 23,000 pounds per square inch.

It weathers well

Bamboo is more resistant to rot and warping due to moisture as compared to most other woods. You will still need to take care of the bamboo products you own, but you are starting with a better material. Bamboo is also naturally UV resistant. This makes it great for products all the way from flooring to clothing.

Luxurious textiles

Textiles made from bamboo are softer than cotton. According to Bamboo Village, towels, sheets and clothing made from bamboo are more absorbent than cotton products. The breathable, thermo-regulating properties of sheets made from bamboo fibers will provide a comfortable night’s rest to those who tend to sleep hot or cold. People who have tried linens made from bamboo have shortly refused to use anything but bamboo bed dressings at home.

Bamboo is better for the planet


Bamboo has finally become recognized as an extremely earth-friendly material. It shines above other materials in a number of different ways.

More oxygen for the planet

Bamboo captures more carbon dioxide and releases 35% more oxygen into the atmosphere when compared to a similarly sized stand of hardwood trees. Think about it: while your cutting board was growing in Central America, it was also scrubbing the air we breathe!

No chemicals needed

Because bamboo is such a naturally prolific plant, it does not require the use of chemicals and fertilizers in order to cultivate it. Although panda bears have taken quite a liking to bamboo, bugs are generally not interested in this giant grass. A stand of bamboo does not require pesticides to keep destructive bugs away. This ensures that chemicals will not find their way into the soil and groundwater as a result of bamboo farming.

It requires less water

Bamboo does not require much water to grow. Although bamboo is willing to grow in wetland conditions, it can also be grown in places where other plants would require supplemental watering to survive. Fresh water is a valuable resource on our planet, and bamboo is not a needy plant when it comes to water consumption.

High demand is no problem

Some species of bamboo can grow as much as three feet per day. While most bamboo plants reach maturity in three or four years, a hardwood tree can take 30 to 50 years to reach a harvestable age. I’m not going to claim that bamboo grows as fast as a vicious rumor in church, but it does grow at a record setting pace.

All joking aside, the speed of bamboo is more than just a myth. This speedy grass has even garnered a place in theGuinness Book of World Records as the fastest growing plant on earth.

Bamboo has a yield 25 times higher than a comparable stand of trees. All the while, this wonder plant produces more oxygen for the atmosphere.

Since our demand for quality products does not seem to be slowing down, why not meet that demand with a resource that can keep up? The fast growth rate of bamboo equals sustainability.

Better for the soil

When bamboo is harvested, each culm is simply cut at ground level. The root system remains in the ground and quickly sprouts more bamboo shoots. The root system that remains in the ground between harvestings helps the soil to resist erosion. In some places, bamboo is planted along riverbanks to prevent soil erosion.

Bamboo also drops leaves and stems onto the ground where it is growing. This natural litter turns to mulch and acts as a fertilizer.

In the event that a bamboo product is discarded, it is nice to know that items made from bamboo are 100% biodegradable.

How does bamboo compare


Let’s look at this from the perspective of common materials that we are used to having in our homes. When bamboo is measured against the materials that we are accustomed to using, it stands up quite well.

Bamboo vs. plastic products

Bamboo products are quickly replacing many plastic items for a number of reasons:

  • Bamboo cutting boards are more resistant to bacteria growth and are easier on a chef’s knife.
  • While bamboo stays straight and true, plastic cutting boards tend to warp when exposed to moderate heat. I discovered this after putting a plastic cutting board in the dishwasher.
  • Plastic bowls can leech chemicals into the food that you eat. This is especially true when eating foods high in acidic content, such as sauerkraut. Bamboo dinnerware will not only add an elegant, earthy look to your table, it’s also a giant leap away from ingesting latent chemicals from the plastic manufacturing process.
  • As mentioned above, bamboo is 100% biodegradable. While a plastic utensil will still be in the landfill when your children’s children have children, bamboo will completely biodegrade in under a year.

Bamboo vs. wood products

Continuing with the cutting board comparison mentioned above, let’s take a look at how bamboo compares to wood products.

  • A bamboo cutting board generally requires much less maintenance than its wood counterpart.
  • Bamboo tableware does not acquire the rough texture that wood utensils seem to exhibit within a few months of use. While some may find it odd to eat with anything other than metallic silverware, others enjoy the taste of their food more when metal is not placed in the mouth with each bite. Give it a try. You just may love it.
  • Due to the fast growth rate of bamboo, products created from bamboo do not contribute to deforestation the way that wood products do.

What kinds of products can be made from bamboo?


While reading about the merits of this plant that grows with such vigor, you might be wondering about the different products that can be made from bamboo. I’ll leave you with a list of bamboo products that may surprise you. Although this list is not exhaustive, it’s enough to wet your earth-friendly appetite.

  • Paper
  • Flooring and furniture
  • Cosmetics
  • Motorcycle helmets
  • Pillows, sheets, towels and clothing
  • Charcoal
  • Food, wine, tea, beer and vinegar
  • Bicycles, skateboards, snowboards, surfboards and fishing rods
  • Phone and laptop cases

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