We’ve been scouring the earth for more sources of oil, alternative energy options, and cleaner water. While it’s a little arrogant to assume bamboo can solve these issues, it can do some pretty amazing things for this little planet we call home. Here are 6 ways this friendly, fast-growing grass can help save the planet.
1. Absorbs Greenhouse Gases
Just like all plants, bamboo absorbs carbon dioxide and releases oxygen into the environment. However, it does so at a much more efficient rate. Bamboo absorbs more carbon dioxide, and releases 35% more oxygen into the atmosphere than an equivalent grove of hardwood trees. With carbon emissions at an all-time high, offsetting them is certainly a top priority to protect the planet.
2. Economic Development
Due to the versatility, durability, and low-maintenance characteristics of bamboo, it is being planted, harvested, and manufactured in undeveloped countries in order to create jobs, encourage social growth, and spike the economy. Programs such as the Bamboo Bike Project invade areas that desperately need social and economic stability, and teach the local craftsmen how to build and sell bamboo bikes of their own.
3. Chemical-Free Growing
Most cash crops require extensive fertilizers, pesticides, and other harmful chemicals to thrive and remain profitable. Bamboo does not. It’s main competition in the clothing market, cotton, has been bred so much that it now requires more treatments than just about any crop on the planet. Bamboo is vulnerable to very few pests, grows in almost any climate, and is naturally resistant to fungus and mold. This cash crop can grow entirely without treatments.
4. Renewable Resource
Due to the astonishing growth rate of bamboo, it is one of the world’s most renewable resources. Since it can be harvested at a young age, it is a safe and plausible alternative to hardwood. It takes many trees, such as oak, 40 or more years to reach maturity, while bamboo gets there in one to five years, depending on the species. Millions of forests are destroyed each year to meet growing hardwood needs, but with the use of bamboo, these regal trees can be left alone.
Bamboo has to be the single most versatile natural material on the planet. Since ancient times it has been used as a food source, but you can now find almost every product in a bamboo alternative. From bamboo beer, homes, and bikes, to clothes, furniture, and even bamboo radio alarm clocks for iPod’s and iPhone’s, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more versatile material. When woven into cloth, the fibers provide breathable warmth, as well as moisture-wicking coolness. The flexible panels do not shrink and expand with the temperatures, and as a result, bamboo furniture, flooring, and buildings hold their shape without warping in the summer. With the increased use of bamboo, we can greatly reduce the destruction caused by over-harvesting hardwoods, and growing and manufacturing cotton.
6. Soil Protection
When a hardwood forest is cleared, stumps are burned to create fertilizer. With this flat landscape, erosion becomes inevitable, and the nourishing topsoil and other nutrients are washed away with the rain. This excess soil often clogs rivers, streams, and other waterways, permanently affecting the wildlife and surrounding humans that require them for sustenance. The roots of bamboo plants remain in place after harvesting, and have the ability to prevent erosion and preserve the nutrients for future crops.
There are plenty of additional reasons why bamboo is good for the environment, and with continued use, research, and development, more benefits are sure crop up over time. It’s easy to see how bamboo is one of the most amazing natural resources, and difficult to ignore the benefits provided by choosing bamboo over other materials. So go out and do a green deed today by selecting bamboo products for your everyday life!