Is Bamboo Sustainable?
Ever since we launched our incredibly popular bamboo gifts here at Always Personal, so many people have asked us “is bamboo sustainable”. So we have rounded up the most asked questions about this incredible plant. Read on to find out why products made from bamboo are so eco-friendly, learn how fast it really grows and discover just why pandas find it so irresistible.
What is bamboo?
Bamboo is a flowering plant, which is part of the Poaceae family of perennial evergreen grass. Although it is technically a grass, many species of bamboo are very tree-like in their appearance. So they are often referred to as “bamboo trees”.
Bamboo plants are renowned for being the fastest growing on the planet and also very strong. They can flourish in a wide range of soils and climates and they vary massively in size. Some grow over 100 feet tall and others are barely as tall as a pencil.
Where is bamboo found?
Bamboo species are most commonly found in Asia, Australia, Sub-Saharan Africa and both North and South America. They grow naturally on every single continent in the world, except for Antarctica and Europe.
In total there are thought to be over 1,500 different species. The most common of these is the Bambusa Vulgaris, which is the most cultivated species in South East Asia.
Bamboo is rarely grown in the UK but some places such as Trebah Garden in Cornwall have managed to find the right conditions to grow a small range of bamboo species.
How fast does bamboo grow?
Bamboo is regarded as the fastest growing plant on Earth. Certain species can even grow as much as 47 inches within a one-day period. That’s one and a half inches per hour!
The speed of growth differs massively of course depending on the species but the variety that reached this height was the tropical giant bamboo, Dendrocalamus Asper. It is native to South East Asia but has also been introduced on a large scale in Latin America and Africa.
Is bamboo sustainable?
Yes, bamboo is highly sustainable. This is because the properties of bamboo make it the ideal resource to cultivate.
Not only does it grow incredibly fast, it requires zero pesticides and very little water to grow. It can also self-regenerate from its own roots, so there is often no need to replant it.
What is bamboo used for?
Bamboo is an incredibly versatile raw product, which can be used for all manner of purposes. It’s strength and relative light weight make it an ideal construction material, but it is also an ingredient in traditional Chinese food and can be a remedy for skin irritations.
Here’s a list of the most well-known bamboo uses:
- Helping to treat a range of medical conditions
- Constructing roads and buildings and forming scaffolding
- Making accessories such as musical instruments, toys and other bamboo gifts
- Making clothes, rugs and nappies
- Forming culinary dishes (shoots) and preserving food (leaves)
- Crafting utensils, cups and plates
- Making beer!
- Feeding wildlife such as elephants and pandas
Why do pandas eat bamboo?
Wild pandas get 99% of their food from the bamboo plant and even when they are in captivity, they still choose bamboo over any other food source. But the question is: what’s all the fuss about?
The answer is simple. Bamboo has been such a reliable food source in their habitat for millions of years and has helped the species to survive. It is therefore so heavily in built in their DNA that they must gorge on it as much as possible.
Top bamboo facts
These quick-fire facts about bamboo are impressive! Here’s just five reasons this plant is so incredible:
1) Lifespan and flowering - Bamboo flowering occurs just once every 60 to 130 years. The timescale of this depends on the species. Once the bamboo plant flowers, it usually dies at this point because of the energy it expends. During the flowering process, it produces seeds as well as a type of fruit, which the Chinese refer to as “bamboo rice”.
2) A born survivor - Bamboo was on Earth millions of years before humans arrived. It can survive in both extreme drought and heavy rainfall. After the bombing of Hiroshima in 1945, it survived closer to ground zero than any other living being.
3) Eco-legend – Bamboo plants are thought to release 30% more oxygen into the atmosphere and also absorb more carbon dioxide than other plants. This means that bamboo is effective in cleaning up the air around us and helping to decrease the amount of greenhouse gases.
4) Tougher than steel – Surprisingly, bamboo is considered a stronger structure than steel and that is why it is a commonly used material for construction. It’s incredible strength also make it an ideal material for things like furniture, scaffolding, plates, bicycles and chopping boards.
5) Protector of the Earth – As well as cleaning the air, bamboo plants often play a big part in the prevention of flooding. This is because they help to bind the topsoil, in areas where the soil is eroding.