Bamboo is a renewable crop with multiple uses in today’s products; from homewares, everyday essentials, in textiles, and even construction. So how is bamboo sustainable for the environment?
Bamboo is one of the most sustainable crops and it has a very rich history, particularly in China where it is believed to have originated around 5,000 years ago. And that’s no wonder, since there are over 1,200 different species of bamboo in existence and most are highly adaptable, especially in high humidity regions.
Bamboo is able to grow in Southeast Asia, Africa, Latin America, and in the southern regions of the USA. Certain varieties can also grow in colder climates like the UK and Northern America.
What makes bamboo sustainable?
Bamboo grows incredibly fast, sometimes at a rate of 3 feet (90cm) per day, depending on variety, and it can be harvested in 3 to 5 years. Furthermore, bamboo requires no fertilizer, no irrigation and self-regenerates from its own roots (which can thrive in even the most shallow, rocky soil). This means bamboo rarely needs replanting.
Bamboo is also great for its direct impact on the environment. Plantations are commonly used as carbon dioxide sequesters, because of its ability to absorb carbon dioxide and produce oxygen – making it a carbon neutral plant.
Compared to an equivalent tree mass, bamboo produces 35% more oxygen and research has shown that bamboo can absorb as much as 12 tonnes of carbon dioxide per hectare per year. In this sense bamboo plays an important role in the balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
Bamboo is a sustainable crop that has many benefits; often used for environmental conservation, as bamboo is excellent for inhibiting soil erosion.
So let’s explore in more detail some of the amazing benefits of bamboo as a sustainable alternative material to use.
1. Bamboo is an eco-friendly crop
Bamboo is one of the most eco-friendly plants on the face of earth. It plays a very important role in improving the environmental condition and health of the plant. A bamboo plant can absorb approximately 12 tonnes of carbon dioxide per hectare per year. Due to this property, bamboo plants are called carbon sinks.
In addition to reducing the amount of carbon in the environment, the bamboo plant is excellent for replenishing the soil. This is because bamboo roots are strong and retain water and other nutrients.
Additionally, it uses relatively less water in its production. This addresses a major cause of water scarcity issues. Last but not least, bamboo helps protect biodiversity and endangered species by creating homes for various animals.
2. Bamboo offers natural UV Protection
Bamboo plants have natural protection against UV or ultraviolet rays emitted from the sun. Some companies have even sent pure bamboo clothing to research labs to evaluate its defense against UV rays.
The Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) label is at 15, whereas bamboo scored a whopping 18.3 %. This implies that bamboo has an excellent UV protection factor. Additionally, it has 93.17% UV block and 94.15% UVA lump.
3. Bamboo and its antibacterial properties
A lesser-known fact about bamboo plants is that they are grown without pesticide or chemical treatment due to ‘bamboo-kun’. It is an antimicrobial bio-agent that is found in bamboo naturally. It protects the bamboo plant from bacteria and viruses and acts as odor-resistant.
Bamboo viscose and other viscose demonstrated antibacterial qualities compared to cotton. This property makes it a perfect raw material for making naturally hygienic products such as bamboo straws, bamboo cutlery, memory foam pillows, and activewear, for instance.
It appears, from scientific studies, that fabrics made from viscose do inhibit the growth of bacteria and hence could be less smelly in situations where you sweat. Conversely, polyester and wool promote bacteria growth and could make you smell more quickly. Viscose is an ideal fabric for wearing next to your skin. Not only does it feel amazingly soft, lightweight and breathable, but it also stays fresher for longer.
Bamboo’s antibacterial properties is another reason why it is widely used for making toilet papers, tissues, and even home essentials such as curtains, sheets, among others. The softness combined with antibacterial and anti-fungal properties makes it an ideal raw material that is eco-friendly and sustainable.
NOTE: It’s important to keep in mind that when considering bamboo textiles, that we check with the brand if the fabric is made in a closed loop system. As sustainable as bamboo can be, in the production process to make bamboo viscose, there are a huge amount of chemicals involved to break down the fibers into fabric. In this sense, companies need to ensure the production is kept in a closed loop operation to avoid residual chemicals being dumped to the environment.
4. Bamboo is a durable material
Bamboo has excellent scores for durability, versatility, and strength. Earlier utilized majorly in the textile industry, it is now also used as a building material in construction businesses.
It is proven to be stronger than beech, oak, teak, cherry, and ash. It is even stronger than mild steel so far as the tensile strength is concerned. These qualities make bamboo an excellent eco-friendly alternative that has a long lifespan, is lightweight, has a low cost of maintenance, and does not deteriorate.
5. Bamboo nutritious healthy benefits
The shoots of the bamboo plants are proved to offer a therapeutic experience. When you eat bamboo, this nutritious plant helps the body regulate cholesterol and give an edge to the immunity system by providing it with several vitamins, proteins, and minerals.
As an edible plant, bamboo is used to make fermented drinks and garnishing. As it is rich in fat and fiber, eatables made from bamboo help to improve the dietary function of the body.
In addition to the above-mentioned qualities, a major reason you should use bamboo is that it is the fastest-growing and most sustainable plant on the earth. As a result, it can be used extensively without concern about replenishment.