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Truth or Trend: 12 Bamboo Sustainability Facts you may not know

There are a lot of positive bamboo sustainability facts that can help with global issues such as deforestation and plastic pollution, but there are also some negatives that need addressing with bamboo as well. Some of these negatives may change how you look at bamboo moving forward.

History reveals that bamboo has always been used – that is, since the 4th century A.D. – as fuel, construction material, food, shelter, musical instruments, drugs, cosmetics material, textile, clothing, containers, paper, and many other goods.

Bamboo production has become extremely lucrative in more recent times due to the rising demand for bamboo alternatives, and as the pressure to find replacements for tree-based products continues to rise, so does its value. This means that bamboo farmers need to produce even more bamboo and to do this, they need more land.

How eco-friendly is bamboo?

Bamboo growth rate is extremely high and is the fastest-growing plant on earth. Bamboo is a highly sustainable plant. Bamboo is strong and durable It’s no surprise that bamboo is often named as the new ‘green steel’ for its versatility and strength in construction, with entire homes now being built entirely from this robust plant.

Bamboo is safe and hygienic Bamboo fibres are naturally anti-bacterial without needing any toxic chemical treatments, all thanks to its substance called ‘bamboo kun’.

12 BAMBOO SUSTAINABILITY FACTS

BAMBOO SUSTAINABILITY FACTS

When you talk about sustainability, you have to have a conversation about bamboo, the plant that many people believe is an environmental pioneer. Learn 12 facts about this plant and whether the plant has the resources to survive in various settings.

BAMBOO SUSTAINABILITY FACTS
  1. Bamboo the fastest growing plant: Bamboo is known to be the fastest growing wood in the world, is 3 times stronger than oak, can be harvested in just 10 years, 4 times more efficient than steelmaking plants and is non-toxic. How fast does bamboo grow in a day? Some bamboo plants can grow at a rate of 0.00003 km/h. The Chinese moso bamboo can grow almost a metre in a single day. As soon as it’s cut down, it starts growing again. This makes Bamboo renewable and sustainable.
  2. Bamboo has natural antibacterial properties: Bamboo kun is found in bamboo fibre and is an antimicrobial bio-agent which gives bamboo its natural antibacterial properties. This prevents bacteria and microbes growing on bamboo products making it the perfect plant for naturally hygienic products such as bamboo straws and cutlery, keeping them sterile and fresh.
  3. Bamboo absorbs carbon dioxide and produces oxygen: Bamboo is Great for the Environment, Bamboo forests have enormous positive benefits for the environment as this incredibly productive plant efficiently stores carbon. Bamboo absorbs the carbon dioxide and releases 35% more oxygen into the atmosphere than an equivalent stand of hardwood trees.
  4. Bamboo can help reduce deforestation: Almost 1 million acres of forests worldwide are lost each week to deforestation. Bamboo is the only wood in the world that doesn’t require planting in order to flourish. Bamboo’s versatility as a substitute for hardwoods offers a chance to drastically reduce that figure and protect the forests that we have left.
  5. Bamboo fabrics much more sustainable: Bamboo fabrics are certainly a step up from polyester and conventional cotton, 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. So, as long as the brand is transparent about its origins, it can be a safe bet as a more sustainable option. But bamboo fabric has potential—it is much less costly to produce than cotton, avoids the extensive use of pesticides in non-organic cotton production, and production is not as chemically intensive as polyester.
  6. Bamboo helps prevent erosion: Bamboo roots remain in place after harvesting where they prevent erosion and help retain nutrients for the next crop. One of the big issues with soil erosion is flooding, bamboo can directly help reduce flooding, which is a major problem raised when discussing climate change and global warming.
  7. Bamboo can help developing countries economy: 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. Bamboo can grow in arid regions: Bamboo can grow 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. 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.
  9. Bamboo a great plastic alternative: When we compare bamboo to plastic, without a doubt, we can say bamboo is better for the environment. Unlike plastic products that never decay, bamboo products decompose into organic matter and enrich the soil. Toothbrushes, plates, straws, and even bamboo sunglasses are examples of bamboo products replacing plastic that we throw away after a short period of use. Also bamboo products like straws can be used more than once.
  10. Bamboo’s far more sustainable than hardwood: It takes bamboo grass 3-5 years to be hard enough to be an alternative to wood. Compare this to hardwood that takes anything between 30 and 50 years before it can be used for similar purposes. Also you wouldn’t use hardwood for cutlery, soap dishes and toothbrushes etc. Which bamboo is used for regularly as an alternative.
  11. Bamboo is used for medicinal purpose: Bamboo can be used for flu-like symptoms and ingestion issues. It can also be used on clothes and other household items to cover up bad smells as it’s a natural deodoriser. This is another great way to help you towards an eco-friendly home.
  12. Bamboo can be used in construction: There are a lot of products that can be switched to alternative bamboo products, including building materials such as scaffolding, floorboards and kitchen surfaces. Other products like chopping boards, paper, chopsticks, bio-fuel, clothes and more, can all be replaced with bamboo alternatives. And these options are great if you are trying to reduce the amount of plastic in your life.

Is bamboo biodegradable?

Bamboo is 100% biodegradable: Is bamboo compostable? yes, but the time it takes for this process can vary, For example, while a bamboo toothbrush in a home composting bin takes approximately 4 to 6 months to fully decompose. The biodegradation is slowed down significantly (5 to 10 years), if the same product is just left outside.

There are a few things every consumer should know before the purchase of a bamboo product, from a company’s manufacturing methods to easy steps that speed up or slow down the biodegradation process. Biodegradability of Bamboo Out of the total of over 1500 identified species, all kinds of bamboo are biodegradable. With the intention of protecting bamboo products for longer use, the wood and bamboo industry uses various treatments with high amounts of toxic chemicals. Bamboo is not only biodegradable, it is also compostable.

Are all Bamboo Products Biodegradable?

As long as they haven’t been chemically processed, bamboo is 100%  biodegradable. The properties of Bamboo’s biodegradability is one of the most important reasons why the crop is so sustainable. Bamboo is also incredibly sturdy – some bamboo species are stronger than steel!

How to dispose of bamboo toothbrush

Bamboo toothbrushes are touted for their sustainability, but you need to make sure you are disposing of them in the correct eco-friendly manner. There are 3 steps to follow when disposing of your bamboo toothbrush:

Step 1 – Staples – Recycle
The staples are the part that hold the bristles in place. They are usually made from aluminium and are recyclable. Even though Recycling systems are always improving, we suggest wrapping these small parts of aluminium in some foil to stop them from getting separated.

Step 2 – Bristles – Recycle
The bristles are mostly made of nylon which can also be recycled with your local collection services. Bunch the bristles together in a plastic container and dispose of the bristles with the rest of your non-recyclables.

Step 3 – Bamboo handle – Compost
The bamboo toothbrush handle is 100% biodegradable and suitable for home-composting. To help the decomposing process, make sure you break the handle down into smaller pieces. Alternatively to this you can dispose of your bamboo toothbrush handle in your green waste bin (biological waste bin). And your collection service will have access to an industrial composter, where your bamboo toothbrush can be broken down in just a few weeks.

Negative impact of bamboo

What you should know about bamboo sustainability is the bamboo plant may be one of the most exploited agricultural resources in the world at the moment due to high demand and with Shipping miles contributing to the carbon footprint of a product, bamboo products that travel such a long distance from China have a higher carbon footprint.

Although planting and harvesting bamboo might not impact the environment negatively, the handling of it certainly can. The main concerns surrounding bamboo is how it’s handled, there has been little done in the last decade to make sure that it’s safe for handlers or the those who manufacture it.

Also there’s concerns about the way bamboo products are made, as there is some use of hazardous chemicals in production. There’s certainly some work to be done in this area, and ample room for improvement and debate on bamboo, but the same can be said for the production of many products.

Are there any negatives to bamboo?

The downsides of bamboo are now being scrutinized as its popularity grows and expands throughout the world of home construction. A number of those concerns include biodiversity, erosion, and chemical use. The downside to bamboo lies in its construction. Rather than being cut and used whole, like wood, bamboo is sliced into pieces and glued together.

There are serious questions regarding health and safety surrounding how the bamboo is handled, and also the chemical components used to glue and seal it. Currently, there aren’t any standardized requirements for its construction or the glue holding it together.

In fact, rates of strength and hardness vary from one end of the spectrum to the opposite depending on supplier, and therefore the glue can contain formaldehyde and be harmful to the environment.

Conclusion

As you can see there are a lot of benefits to gain from bamboo especially when it comes to climate change. Bamboo can help against deforestation and be used as an alternative for plastic as its biodegradable, this can help against the planets plastic pollution problem. When it comes to the negatives, there are serious questions regarding health and safety surrounding how the bamboo is handled and manufactured, but with some reform, these issues are fixable.

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