Saturday, August 30, 2008

Bamboo: A New Solution for An Old Problem

I just love bamboo. It is such an ethereal plant; and, nothing is more soothing than relaxing to the sound of wind through a stand of bamboo. My love affair with bamboo began many years ago when I first held a piece in my hand and could feel the life inside. Later I came to realize the versatility of bamboo and its hidden strengths. The more I learn about it, the more amazing it appears to me.

There are many bamboo species; but, they all share the same strange trait. I find it absolutely fascinating that every 20 – 125 years, depending on the species, a bamboo will flower profusely, set seed and die back. A complete die-back of a species on a regular basis is very unusual in the plant kingdom and this happens in every species of bamboo on the earth. In places where bamboo is an active participant in the local economy, there must be at least two or more species. This ensures that when one species dies back, the other can sustain the local population until the original species has a chance to grow back.

Strangely, bamboo is actually classified as a grass not a tree; even though they can grow to over 60’ tall. So, I guess us tree-huggers can be grass-huggers, too!

Bamboo has great resilience and strength. In fact, certain varieties have been compared to steel. Besides using bamboo as flooring, serving ware and furniture, some countries use bamboo in the construction of homes and even bridges. Pretty impressive!!

Not to be left out of such a good thing, the textile industry has developed many uses for bamboo also. Recent manufacturing technology has developed a method of turning bamboo pulp into fiber, which can then be transformed into a luxuriously decadent fabric. Designers both big and small are turning bamboo into blouses, T-shirts, skirts, pants, socks, baby clothes, sheets and towels.

There are additional hidden benefits to bamboo linens, clothing and other textiles. They provide 100% natural antibacterial protection. This is because of an inherent quality in the plants called “bamboo kun” that functions as an antibacterial even when spun into bamboo fibers. Throw in the added benefits of wicking away moisture, being more breathable than cotton, and thermal regulating (keeping you warm in summer and cool in winter) and; in my mind, it’s kismet.

North Americans are becoming increasingly aware of their environment and the changes that must be made in order for life on this planet to continue. As more and more people become eco-aware and increasingly eco-conscious, more research is being done into replacing our technology with greener options.

Many of the options we use now incorporate green aspects; but, is it enough? Many of these resources that we use now are renewable (naturally restock or renew themselves); but, our demand has grown greater than these resources can handle. We want more before they have managed to attain complete renewal. Its obvious things can’t on like this for much longer before everything collapses under the weight our greed.

Bamboo is thought to be the fastest-growing plant on the planet and has attracted the attention of eco-aware contractors; clothing manufacturers; textile manufacturers and furniture designers because it is considered to be one of our most sustainable resources.

It’s a farmer’s dream plant – some species can be harvested at 4 years (much sooner than a tree); requires no pesticides and is resistant to both pests and pathogens; continually repopulates itself through a complex root system that constantly sends up shoots (until die-back); and, finally totally reseeds itself during die-back so no planting need ever be done.

Bamboo looks like a good choice to me.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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