Bamboo is often mistakenly considered a pest and invasive plant by many homeowners. But anyone who refers to bamboo as such is misinformed – bamboo has a number of desirable qualities, both when grown naturally as well as when grown commercially.
Bamboo in its Natural Habitat
When grown in its natural habitat, bamboo is the fastest growing plant in the world, which has even surprisingly earned it a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records. Some bamboos have been recorded as growing up to 35 inches in a 24 hour period – which is more than an inch an hour! Bamboo grows so quickly because it is actually a type of woody grass. Additionally, bamboo reaches maturity quite quickly – between one and three years. This is advantageous when bamboo is grown for commercial purposes.
One of the biggest benefits of bamboo is the oxygen that it produces – a bamboo forest equivalent in size to a grove of trees will produce 35% more oxygen than the stand of trees. Because of this, bamboo is often said to have a negative carbon footprint. One scientist even speculated that if bamboo were grown on a larger scale worldwide, it could stop global warming in a mere six years. Moreover, the root system of bamboo is structured in such a way that it actually helps to prevent soil erosion and degradation. The root system is formed like a net, and thus holds the soil together. It should be noted, however, that this is only true of running bamboos, and not clumping bamboos.
And of course, bamboo serves as a staple in the diet of various animals, including: pandas, red pandas, gorillas, bamboo lemurs, bamboo rats, and golden monkeys, among others. And humans eat bamboo as well! Bamboo shoots can be found in the cuisines of China, India, and those of other southeastern Asian countries.
Commercially Grown Bamboo
Bamboo is becoming increasingly popular in many walks of life as it is now being grown commercially for a variety of purposes. For instance, bamboo can be harvested for lumber, or its fibers can be used to produce textiles.
Bamboo is a popular fabric for the bedding industry. Most of bamboo’s popularity as a textile has come in the form of bed sheets. Many people have called bamboo the softest sheets in the world. Though it has many eco-friendly properties above and beyond cotton, less of the material needs to be used in order to make a soft set of sheets. For example, a 250 thread count of bamboo sheets is much softer than 1,000 thread count of cotton sheets.
Bamboo is an extremely eco-friendly crop, for many of the reasons listed above, as well as for other reasons. When bamboo is grown in its natural habitat, it requires no irrigation, so it saves on water costs both fiscally and environmentally. Bamboo also requires no pesticides or insecticides, which makes it even more eco-friendly. Pesticides and insecticides have caused the deaths of millions of animals, birds, fish, and even people, worldwide. This is because of the chemicals they contain, which are among some of the most dangerous in the world.
Here are some of the products made with bamboo:
- Bamboo lumber – including lumber used for flooring, cabinetry, houses, etc.
- Bamboo bicycles
- Bamboo water bottles
- Bamboo clothing
- Bamboo sheets
- Bamboo blankets
- Bamboo cutting boards
- Bamboo baby wipes
These are just some of the benefits of bamboo. It doesn’t require irrigation, pesticides, or insecticides, and it helps combat soil erosion and produces enormous amounts of oxygen. It provides food for pandas and humans alike. Remember these things the next time you hear bamboo being regarded as a pest or as an invasive species.
McClure, Floyd Alonzo. The Bamboos. Washington: Smithsonian Institution, 1993. Print.
McCombe, Jessica. “Information on the Moso Bamboo Tree.” EHow. Demand Media, 07 June 2010. Web.