Bamboo for the Eco-Newbie

WP_20160215_003 4We’re really just starting out on our eco-friendly journey, trying to take a step up from just faithfully putting our recycling in the right bin. Our house is now coming down with bamboo products – toothbrushes, pottys, socks, soap bags, clothes, underwear and I’ll be honest I’m not sure why! So, I thought I’d take a look at why some of the common “eco” materials are used. Be warned, this is very much an idiot’s guide for fellow eco newbies-)

So why is this grass (not a tree, who new!) so special?

  • It grows very fast, reportedly up to 90cm per day and in just 4 years it’s ready to be turned into, well, stuff! It’s the only plant that can grow fast enough to keep up with the amount “stuff” we want to make. It definitely lives it’s life at full throttle!

 

  • If it’s not harvested it naturally decays in less than 8 years.  It is the ultimate zero waster!

 

  • Bamboo has big “lungs” breathing in much more carbon dioxide and breathing out much more oxygen than other trees/grasses!

 

  • Bamboo takes care of it’s self without the need for fertilisers and chemicals.Shoots regrow from it’s spaghetti root network and it’s own fallen leaves acts as fertiliser.

 

  • It’s incredibly strong hence why it can be used for all sorts of things from bike frames to furniture to building houses! It’s got a greater tensile strength (how much you can pull it apart) than steel!

 

  • It helps reduce soil erosion in it’s Asian home by supporting the top soil BUT Asia is a long long way from the UK and Bamboo definitely loses eco-friendly points during the flight!

 

  • It can be made into textiles which are breathable and absorbent BUT a word of caution….some (a lot of?)  bamboo is made into textiles using loads of chemicals and isn’t a green option at all! Some might even say that bamboo textiles aren’t really the best use of this otherwise pretty awesome plant.  Take home message…Not all bamboo textiles are created equally! In terms of textiles it might be better looking elsewhere for that truly eco friendly T-shirt?

So all in all Bamboo’s pretty cool but it’s not perfect. For  a UK consumer there’s obvious questions about air miles and it’s use in textiles.

Sources:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bamboo
https://www.edenproject.com/learn/for-everyone/plant-profiles/bamboo
http://www.bamboobotanicals.ca/html/about-bamboo/bamboo-facts.html
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/property/green/8645517/Are-bamboo-products-really-the-eco-friendly-option.html
http://www.rin-hamburgh.co.uk/2014/01/why-bamboo-is-sprouting-up-all-over-go-green/

 

 

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