How Eco-Friendly Are Bamboo Products?
Interesting Facts about Bamboo
Don’t you know that bamboo is actually a grass? Bamboo belongs to the subfamily Bambusoideae of the grass family Poaceae. As the largest of all grasses, bamboo is very tree-like in appearance. It can even make a forest on itself. This is such good news to know that you are not cutting down trees for harvesting bamboos! This is one of the reasons why bamboos are so eco-friendly as they preserve trees.
Bamboos are mainly found in Southeast Asia. Some parts are from Africa, South and North America, and also Australia. They grow mostly in tropical regions. China is the largest producer of bamboo in the world followed by India. However, as most bamboos are still produced in a limited number of countries, they need to be transported globally.
Benefits of Bamboo
Strong & Durable
Since ancient times, bamboos were often used as construction materials. Bamboos are not limited to building bamboo houses. Due to its high tensile strength properties, bamboos are also massively involved in building modern buildings. Bamboos are commonly used to construct walls and partitions, roofs, and even scaffolding. Despite being light-weight which leads to easy transportation, bamboo is extremely flexible. It consists of long dense fibers which run axially This characteristic allows it to bend into various shapes without breaking as easily as wood.
Bamboo is having pest-resistant qualities in nature. Its high silica content makes it difficult for pests to digest. This makes up the astounding lifespan for bamboo products. If under proper care, you can reuse your bamboo products over and over again without deterioration. Hence, this will greatly reduce the waste to our environment.
Safe & Hygienic
Bamboo is naturally anti-bacterial and anti-fungal. This property makes it perfect for the sterility of kitchen utensils and hygienic products such as bamboo toothbrush and straws. It can prevent bacteria and microbes growing on it due to an antimicrobial bio-agent found in bamboo fibre which is called ‘bamboo kun’.
Apart from that, bamboo has natural waxy surface. It does not require painting so we will be safe from toxic substances in paints. Just apply with food-safe varnish upon finishing, bamboo products can be durable and safe to use for years. Without the need of any toxic chemical treatments, bamboo can make the reusable and yet fresh utensils. Thus the use of bamboo products can greatly lower the level of harm we bring to the nature, and bring benefits to our health too.
Naturally Biodegradable & Recyclable
Bamboos are 100% biodegradable, if they are not chemically processed. Bamboo products can be reused for years in a good condition compared to plastics. Furthermore, we can decompose them for use in gardens and anywhere you need them. Bamboo is able to fully decompose within months or years and it varies for different bamboo products. It is a good replacement for plastics which remains in our land for hundreds of years. Another thing is, bamboo products can be recycled. This will also further reduce the disposal problems.
Highly Renewable & Sustainable
Bamboo is among the fastest-growing plant on Earth. It can grow to its adult plant size in just 3 to 4 months. It only takes 3 to 5 years to be mature for harvesting. This makes it super sustainable and cost-effective compared to standard tress which can take over 10 or even 30 years to reach its full size. Some even proof that bamboo can grow 3 feet tall in 24 hours. Besides its rapid growth rate, the flowering cycles of bamboos can last for 60 to 120 years. You can almost harvest it forever with proper harvesting methods.
Another good thing is bamboo requires only little watering. Bamboo is able to retain plenty of enough water from rains. We would free from the worries of building good water supply for it especially during the monsoon seasons. Other than that, bamboo is naturally pest-resistant. It does not require the use of chemicals like pesticides and herbicides. The cultivation is purely natural and never harms the environment.
Great for our Environment
Bamboo brings huge advantages just by growing on our planet. The most benefit will be generating a vast amount of oxygen. It is able to produce 35% more oxygen than most plants and trees. It can also greatly reduce the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere as it can absorb 5 times more carbon dioxide than similar plants.
Furthermore, bamboo can help to improve soil stability. By growing more bamboos, their strong roots can control soil erosion, especially in hilly areas and riverbanks to prevent landslides. Bamboo also helps to reduce water pollution. It consumes a large amount of nitrogen and converts them into nutrients for its own growth. It will be best to grow bamboos alongside industrial areas to act as a filter for wastewater whilst maintaining the soil’s pH.
Do not forget that bamboo forests are providing both homes and food for a number of species as well. It plays a vital role in protecting our biodiversity. As consumers, we can encourage the growth of bamboos by switching our daily-use items to those made of natural bamboos.
Are Bamboo Fabrics Also Eco-Friendly?
Same as those hard bamboo products, bamboo fabrics bring us lots of benefits. Besides being antibacterial, bamboo fabric is UV blocking and highly moisture absorbent. Bamboo clothing is among the best during summer as you can enjoy it keeping you dry, cool and odor-free throughout the day. It almost sounds perfect in addition to the mentioned points that bamboo is so environment-friendly.
However, when it comes to bamboo fabrics, we need to consider twice before we go blindly for it. The reason behind it is most of the bamboos are actually processed chemically in order to produce soft fabrics, just like cotton.
Generally, we can classify the bamboo fabric manufacturing process into two kinds.
This is a chemical-based process. Viscose involves the use of lye and carbon disulfide which brings great harm to our environment. These chemicals are air pollutant which has been proven to be hazardous. Throughout the whole process, only about 50% of the solution used is recovered. The remaining toxic liquids are discharged as wastewater. This not only pollutes the water but also the air when those liquids evaporated.
The lyocell process is a much more ethical method. The bamboo fiber is combed and raked, then spun into thread with a methanol and water solution into wearable fabric. This process preserves the bamboo antimicrobial properties and results in a softer fabric which is suitable for sensitive skin. The use of toxic liquids is minimized and about 99% of the chemicals used are recycled. It sounds green and good but as the lyocell process is time-consuming and labor-intensive, most manufacturers are still sticking to the viscose process.
Sometimes it is hard to know how a product is processed. We need to be aware of that even though the material itself like bamboo is safe for the Earth, its manufacturing process can be harmful as well. Our advice is to think twice before purchasing bamboo fabrics.
Bamboo is so versatile that we can make wide use of it in our daily lives. Besides gaining interesting knowledge about bamboos, we should try to replace single-use and constantly-disposing plastics with bamboo products. We had listed out some useful and sustainable bamboo products below. Say no to plastics and each of us can be a savior to our Mother Earth!
Here are eco-friendly bamboo-made products as the replacement of plastics in our daily lives.