|"Beautiful" by Lisa Schultheis/Earth Love Arts Gallery|
In a continued attempt to find earth friendly products that I still wanted to use, a few years back I started studying up on bamboo. At the time I was considering it as a new flooring project. That project never actually happened and the house has since been sold but I have a renewed interest in bamboo because I see it now used in so many different applications.
First, lets take a look at the things that you may or may not have known about bamboo.
Bamboo is plentiful. There are approximately 1500 different species of bamboo.It grows naturally in it's native China and therefore needs no pesticides, herbicides or additional irrigation outside of the natural rainfall to sustain it.
Bamboo is a grass. That makes it faster growing and more easily sustained than wood. Bamboo does not need to be replanted after harvest. It simply gets cut a few inches from the ground and will regrow from there kind of like your lawn. It is the fastest growing plant on the planet with some species growing as much as 47 inches in 24 hours. Aren't you glad that's NOT like your lawn?! What this means to you and me is that it is replaced in 3-5 years as apposed to 10-20 years for trees.
It is edible. We humans can and do eat the shoots when they are small and tender. It is also ideal as animal feed because it is easily produced and has 22% protein. This eliminates the makers of feed to add protein sources like they do with traditional grains. Those Pandas are pretty smart I think!
It is amazing for the planet and for those of us who live here! A grove of bamboo releases 35% more oxygen into the air than a similarly sized grove of trees. It tolerates many environmental and climate changes. In fact, it was planted in mass to regreen China after the Hiroshima attacks in the 1930's
Bamboo is really good for our bodies. It is naturally antimicrobial and antifungal. It is hypo-allergenic as well. There are several studies being released now that are addressing whether wearing bamboo socks reduces or eliminates athlete's foot. I am doing a small personal study of my own. I have an autoimmune disease. As a result, I have developed what is believed to be a systemic fungal infection on my right heel. It has been there for years and I have tried everything short of cutting off my foot to get rid of it. When I read this report I decided to give it a try. Stay tuned for updates!
It is amazingly strong and sturdy. In structural engineering tests, bamboo has a higher tensile strength than many alloys of steel, and a higher compressive strength than many mixtures of concrete. It even has a higher strength to weight ratio than graphite. Mild steel has a tensile strength of 23,000 psi while the humble little bamboo has a tensile strength of 28,000. A little David and Goliath-like!
That being said, it makes lovely soft fabrics. It is softer than cotton, silk and cashmere while being more durable and washable so it lasts longer. The fabrics that are now being produced from bamboo now are luxurious and soft. Anyone who knows me, knows that I WILL NOT sleep on anything but Egyptian Cotton sheets. Recently I came across bamboo fiber sheets and I have to say I am a convert. They get softer and softer with each wash just like the cotton but they are sturdier and last longer. On a broader level, bamboo requires 1/3 less water than cotton and does not require pesticides like cotton because of it's natural antimicrobial qualities.
So what are they doing with this wonder grass? Some amazing products being put out from bamboo these days, things that usually require the leveling of trees or the manufacturing of toxic man made materials. Like I stated before, it makes stunning, strong, durable flooring. It also is being made into commercial and residential cutting boards. The bamboo is naturally antimicrobial so it is safer to prepare food on than just about any surface without needing harsh toxic cleaners to clean them. I am a chef by trade and trust me this is BIG!
Bamboo has been and continues to be used as a building material all over the world. It is much lighter while being much stronger than its wood and metal counterparts. It is vastly renewable in almost all regions of the world. This also should keep the cost dowm making it a much more economical choice. Understandably, right now the price of products made from bamboo are a bit higher. As the trend swells and demand becomes greater, the price will come down. I believe that as companies here in the states and all over the world outside of bamboo's native China realize the benefits of this natural resource, they will not only start to use it more frequently in the production of their products but also start to grow it here for that purpose. This will bring the price down as well.
There are so many beautiful products on the market now. VoilaAndreanna on etsy.com has made this beautiful dress.
This skirt from sandmaiden on etsy.com looks lovely and soft and flatters any figure.
Lokimonkey on etsy.com has this AMAZING cabinet for sale. This would be so beautiful in a kitchen or as a bar.
And check out this totally cool hammock made by slingshotsws on etsy.com.
I hope that this has given you something to think about the next time you are deciding on a certain product, be it flooring or furniture, clothing or bedding. I hope you will take a second to see what is available out there made from bamboo. You will not be disappointed in the quality.
To see my products made from other upcycled materials and high quality fine art like the painting done at the top of the page, please visit:
To check out the products mentioned above, please visit: