Bamboo – the newest, greatest and greenist product on the market?

It’s the eco-material of the moment. I was at Briscoes the other day and they have an amazing new range called Ecology which is made out of bamboo and some products from recycled stainless steel. This is my new favourite company; they seem ethically sound and their products are just lovely. So for those of us out there who want to be ecofriendly but don’t have truck loads of money this is a great product range. Isn’t it funny how it now costs so much to be green! That’s almost an oxymoron! My two newest favourite bamboo products are the whole Ecoclogy range and also these very cool bamboo cups from Stevens (I’ll be waiting till they are on sale before I buy them). But how green is bamboo really?

Bamboo is the fastest growing plant on the planet and some species can grow up to four feet a day (1.2 mitres! In a day and a half the bamboo would be taller than me!). Bamboo can be harvested in three to five years. This is definitely good news compared to waiting up to 50 years to harvest hardwood. Not to mention the deforestation and loss of animal habitat involved in a lot of hardwood felling. Bamboo uses very little water to grow, doesn’t need any chemicals or pesticides, creates lots of oxygen, is degradable and regenerates on its own. Bamboo can also be made into pretty much anything and everything. Well sounds so good so far.

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So now the down side; to turn bamboo from a grass into a floor some companies add a lot of formaldehyde adhesives which of course increases the floors environmental impact (though not all companies do so just be careful when buying a floor). There are fears that if the paper industry also gets interested in bamboo it could threaten the ecologically diverse bamboo forests across Southeast Asia and elsewhere. However, the one that I find hard to deal with is the fact that a lot of bamboo clothing is basically no longer bamboo or natural! It goes through a very heavy chemical process with lots of chemicals added which then turns it into rayon which is then used for clothing, towels, bed sheets etc. Just another tree hugger goes into great detail about the chemical process required to make rayon. Though as she states cotton goes though the same process but then lots of water and pesticides are used to grow cotton which are not needed to grow bamboo (a win for bamboo). It must be noted though that not all companies and clothes go through this process so just be aware of how the bamboo is made when you buy it.

In conclusion, I love bamboo I think it’s beautiful, soft, environmentally friendly if not chemicalised. Just watch out who you’re buying it from and how much that company cares about the environment rather than just making a “green” product.  
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