Bamboo's green footprint makes it a plant that could very well shape our future. As forests continue to be cleared for wood production and other needs, bamboo can offer us an alternative to clearcutting. Bamboo takes in more CO2 and produces more oxygen than your average hardwood tree. This makes it a valuable partner in fighting climate change.
In addition, new techniques with bamboo in packaging material can help with single us plastic problems. There are packages being developed now, from bamboo, that will naturally degrade with time. Contrast this with all the plastic we are currently throwing away. That plastic can't be used for fuel anymore. It is also finding its way into our ecosystem and causing havoc.
To summarise the main benefits below:
- Renewable resource. It grows at an astonishing rate. It can also be harvested without the death of the crop. Once you cut down a hardwood, that tree is dead. Depending on the species, bamboo can be harvested in one to five years. Hardwoods like oak take at least forty years to mature before they can be harvested. Almost 1 million acres of forests are lost each week worldwide to deforestation. Bamboo's versatility as a substitute for hardwoods offers a chance to drastically reduce that figure and protect the forests that we have left.
- Absorbs greenhouse gases. Bamboo absorbs carbon dioxide and releases 35% more oxygen into the atmosphere than an equivalent stand of hardwood trees.
- Amazing growth rate. Some species of bamboo grow more than three feet each day! No plant on the planet features a faster growth rate. When it is harvested, it will grow a new shoot from its extensive root system with no need for additional planting or cultivation.
- Very little waste. After harvesting, virtually every part of the plant is used to make a wide variety of products. From soil-enriching mulch to beautiful furniture to chopsticks, every part of the plant can be utilized.
- Versatility. Bamboo can replace the use of wood for nearly every application.
- No fertilizer, pesticides, or herbicides needed. Unlike most cash crops, bamboo requires no agricultural chemicals to thrive. Unlike cotton, which is one of the most intensely sprayed crops in the world and rapidly depletes the nutrients in the soil, bamboo sequesters nitrogen and cultivation does not add chemicals to the environment.
- Soil protection. Once hardwood forests are clear-cut and the stumps are burned to provide fertilizer and space for growing crops, erosion inevitably occurs as the topsoil and nutrients are washed away by rainfall. The eroded soil then clogs rivers and streams and affects the lives of people and animals living downstream. Bamboo roots remain in place after harvesting where they prevent erosion and help retain nutrients for the next crop. Bamboo provides us with a sustainable resource from which to produce wood for construction and product purposes. Bamboo is a plant that actually helps to prevent soil erosion. Erosion can devastate and ultimately destroy soil and render it dead. In areas where bamboo has been introduced to blighted soil, it can help to regenerate once fruitless soil.
- Economic development. In less developed countries where unemployment leads to civil unrest, bamboo production and the manufacturing of bamboo products provides job opportunities in areas that desperately need social and economic stability.
- Bamboo grows in a variety of conditions. Bamboo can grow in arid regions where droughts cause other crops to fail and since the roots are left in place after harvesting, it helps to preserve vital moisture in the soil. From low wetlands to higher elevations in the mountains, bamboo thrives in a wide range of climates.
Isn't bamboo a better way?