Bamboo is one of the Answers
As the world’s forests are chopped down and the world’s seas are being polluted and over-fished; and as the world’s 6 billion inhabitants are placing an impossible strain on the soil to grow food and on fresh water supplies, people are beginning to wonder what on earth we can do to prevent environmental catastrophe? Climate change, population explosion, resource depletion, deforestation and pollution are all undeniably real and seem every year more and more like the riders of the apocalypse, signaling the end.
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What is Special About Bamboo?
In such an atmosphere of doom and gloom there are always a few rays of
hope. And one of those rays is coming from bamboo. The more research
that is done into the woody plant, the more beneficial things that are
discovered about this amazing plant.
Bamboo is strong, flexible and hard. It feels like a timber when it is towering above our heads but it is in fact a grass. It is the fastest growing grass on the planet. One species of Japanese bamboo is reported to have grown a meter in a day. There are over 1,600 species of bamboo in the world. It is a wonderfully adaptive plant that can grow in nearly all latitudes and climates.
At present there are about 40 million hectares of bamboo forest in the world, mostly in Asia. In China alone there is about 4 million hectares of moso bamboo.
What is special about bamboo? So many things
1) Bamboo absorbs 35% more CO2 than an equivalent stand of trees.
2) Bamboo grows densely and so it maximizes its environmental impact. 60 tonnes of bamboo can be harvested from one hectare compared to 20 tonnes for trees and only 1-2 tonnes for cotton.
3) Bamboo contains a bacterostatis bio-agent called ‘kun’ that is anti-fungal and anti-bacterial. This Kun substance means that bamboo can be grown organically without the use of pesticides or fertilizer. It also means that bamboo products such as bamboo linen and strand woven bamboo flooring are antimicrobial.
4) Bamboo does not need to be planted. It propagates through a root system. Because bamboo reaches maturity in only 4 or 5 years it quickly goes from new shoot to available resource. When the bamboo stalks are cut they grow back like grass.
5) Harvesting bamboo is actually good for the plant. It grows back thicker after each harvest, producing more bio-mass.
6) Bamboo is twice as water efficient as trees.
7) Bamboo with its extensive root structure holds soil together and prevents soil erosion especially during the heavy rains during the monsoon in Asia.
8) Bamboo has many uses. It can be used as fiber, food and a building material for locals. Not to mention a valuable source of income.
9) Bamboo is a traditional medicine for a variety of ailments in many cultures.
10) Bamboo can be used to make a number of consumer products such as clothes, strand woven bamboo flooring, baskets, food items, furniture, air-fresheners, charcoal, kitchen ware, mats and blinds
Consumerism and Environmentalism
Many of the consumer products that can be made from bamboo are great
alternatives to products made from wood. Turning to bamboo to make
consumer products is one way to help stop deforestation. Planting more
bamboo is also a good way to rectify the carbon imbalance in the
atmosphere. The fact that bamboo doesn’t need petroleum intensive
fertilizers and pesticides further saves resources.
Finally growing bamboo brings many benefits to those harvesting the crop as well as to the end user. From beginning to end the cultivation of bamboo makes financial and ecological sense. Not only that but bamboo products make beautiful and long lasting alternatives to hardwood products. Not chopping down trees and using bamboo instead makes sound financial and environmental sense.
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