Bamboo: Modern Eco Warrior

It’s no secret - there’s a lot of garbage out there. From plastic bags and bottles to forest-guzzling paper mills, everyday products are wreaking havoc on our environment in a plethora of ways. Fortunately, people are becoming increasingly aware of this. The necessity for sustainable, earth-friendly and recyclable materials in the manufacture of everyday items has become apparent, and consumer demands are increasing as a result.

Enter bamboo. Having existed as an alternative material for millenniums, this amazingly strong and versatile plant is a naturally eco-friendly resource. Whilst there are some concerns that certain methods of processing and manufacturing bamboo are less-than-eco-friendly, as they require the use of chemicals and dyes. It should be noted, however, that the positives largely outweigh the negatives here. Many companies already use - or are seeking to use - methods that minimise harm to the environment at every stage of production.

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Want to know more about this amazing resource? Read on...

1] Fast-growing – 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.

2] Renewable – 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.

3] Soil protector – 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.

4] Low 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.

5] No chemicals required – 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.

6] Absorbs greenhouse gases – Bamboo absorbs carbon dioxide and releases 35% more oxygen into the atmosphere than an equivalent stand of hardwood trees.

7] Economic lifeline – 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.

8] Diverse growing 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.

9] Across borders – In a fractious world where wars are fought over resources, the increasing popularity of bamboo products provides an opportunity for diverse cultures to settle their difference through trade and cooperation that benefits everyone.

10] Uber versatile – Bamboo can replace the use of wood for nearly every application. Paper, flooring, furniture, charcoal, building materials, and much more can be made from bamboo. What's more, bamboo fibres are far stronger than wood fibres and much less likely to warp from changing atmospheric conditions.

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Can bamboo save the planet? The answer to that question remains to be seen. But this amazing plant and its surging popularity in a huge variety of products offer mankind a chance to enjoy many of the comforts of modern life (see below list) without causing irreparable damage to our environment.

Top eco-friendly bamboo products to seek out and use:

1. Bamboo toilet paper

2. Bamboo on-the-go utensils

3. Bamboo speakers

4. Bamboo towels

5. Bamboo bottles

6. Bamboo floors

7. Bamboo computer accessories

8. Bamboo straws

9. Bamboo skateboards

10. Bamboo sunglasses

11. Bamboo toothbrushes

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