With all the ever present environmental problems and pollution occurring in the world today, it is becoming more and more important to be educated about what will help to sustain our Earth. We have so many things that we think we need these days, that sometimes we don’t stop to think that there could be greener options available to us. When it comes to textiles and fabrics, most of us don’t think of our cotton bed sheets as environmentally hazardous – but when we learn that organic bamboo sheets exist, and that bamboo is a renewable resource – it becomes clear that we can make a greener choice when purchasing bed sheets.
Bamboo as a renewable resource
Bamboo is quickly rising as a highly renewable resource, and one that can be used to manufacture a variety of products, not just bed sheets. The definition of a renewable resource, according to Investopedia, is this: “a substance of economic value that can be replaced or replenished in the same amount or less time as it takes to draw the supply down. Some renewable resources have essentially an endless supply, such as solar energy, wind energy and geothermal pressure, while other resources are considered renewable even though some time or effort must go into their renewal, such as wood, oxygen, leather and fish. Most precious metals are considered renewable as well; even though they are not naturally replaced, they can be recycled because they are not destroyed during their extraction and use.”
One of the things that makes bamboo such a renewable resource is the fact that it grows so quickly. Some bamboos have been recorded as growing more than 39 inches in one day! Bamboo is certainly one of the fastest growing plants on earth, as it reaches maturity in anywhere from one to seven years (depending upon the species). This is in stark contrast to most plants that are harvested for textiles and building products – for instance, a tree that is harvested for lumber reaches maturity in anywhere from 20 to 120 years. Clearly, the mere fact that bamboo reaches maturity so quickly immediately makes it a candidate as a renewable resource. But this is just one of the many reasons.
Bamboo isn’t thirsty
Many plants, such as cotton, can be categorized as ‘thirsty’ plants because they need so much water to grow. Bamboo is not one of these; in fact, if grown in its natural habitat, bamboo needs no irrigation. When grown in desert climates, bamboo does require some irrigation, because it is native to a more humid habitat. However, the contrast between the water needs for bamboo and cotton are quite startling. 256 cubic gigameters of water (which is equivalent to 2.64 x 1029 gallons) are used every year just to grow the cotton that goes to produce all of the world’s cotton products. A single cotton t-shirt requires 2,700 liters of water – which is equivalent to the water that a single person will drink over a three year period.
Other reasons bamboo is a renewable resource
-A forest of bamboo that is the same size as a grove of trees will produce 35% more oxygen than the trees.
-Bamboo also absorbs 70% more carbon than the comparable grove of trees, which actually technically gives bamboo a negative carbon footprint.
-Bamboo doesn’t require any pesticides or insecticides to grow. This is quite a contrast to cotton, which uses 25% of the world’s pesticides and 12% of the world’s insecticides, even though the crop is only grown on 3% of the world’s farmland.
-The harvesting of bamboo does not cause soil erosion, because the root system is left intact, which also allows for the roots to sprout new shoots after the culms have been harvested. Most crops cause a good deal of soil erosion when they are harvested, which pollutes rivers, aquifers, and other water sources, as well as ruins the soil for future plants to grow.
Bamboo is a highly renewable, sustainable resource. It has several qualities that make it a viable long-term option for harvesting for lumber and fiber. As we deplete more and more of Earth’s resources, it will become more necessary to utilize products that are made from renewable resources, and all things bamboo are good candidates for this. It’s easy to choose greener products when they are actually higher quality as well, which happens to be the case with items like bamboo sheets, bamboo blankets, bamboo flooring, bamboo plywood, and so on.