For all of us trying to make eco-friendly choices, we have definitely heard about bamboo. We try to make green decisions in our eating and purchases because we believe that together, we can change the world. Well that is exactly what is happening. The world is going green. Whether it is just a current fad or the world is actually starting to care; only time will tell. One of the biggest developments is the amazing growth of bamboo – ha ha. No, not just this plants rapid renewability, but its growth in popularity, and subsequently, across global markets.
Mexico is reporting tremendous growth in bamboo plantations, reaching almost 3,000 acres (1,200 hectares). The good that this plant is doing stretches far beyond the environment. Yes, bamboo produces 33% more oxygen than trees, and yes it can grow 20 times quicker than trees so that the CO2 absorption can begin within one year. But have you ever stopped to think about some of the economic benefits of the bamboo, earth-friendly craze? While Mexico City could use some pollution reduction, there are a ton of people in Mexico that could use jobs. Bamboo is hot on the market, and reports are saying that those 3,000 acres are producing approximately 4,000 direct jobs and over 26,000 indirect jobs.
Haiti is struggling to rebuild from the 7.0 earthquake that decimated the country back in 2010. Plans are underway, thanks to John Naylor, to rebuild the country using bamboo homes, and to engender bamboo growth across the nation. With over one million homeless because of the earthquake, it would seem a daunting task for the poor classes of Port au Prince, Haiti to be able to rebuild in a short time span. But with plans to plant bamboo across the country, Haiti could have enough bamboo for its own construction demands and have a lot leftover to export in just three years! The rapid growth and increasing demand for this plant from the consumers is giving some of the poorer countries an opportunity to grow economically.
Chicago based EcoPlanet Bamboo has just reached its 10,000 acre mark in securing bamboo plantations. They recently acquired a 3,000 acre farm in Nicaragua, catapulting them past 10,000 acres of total bamboo farmland. Their mission is similar to the above stories. To use this earth-friendly crop to bolster economies in poor countries, while helping to reverse the harmful effects of pollution and greenhouse gases in the world. This farm alone will provide for hundreds of full time jobs, countless seasonal jobs, and indirectly creates a lot more.
For these countries in the Caribbean and Latin America, benefits to international trade in bamboo start with location. As American companies are demanding more and more bamboo products, China is shouldering the entire load. Most product deliveries take a full month to get from China to the western shore of the United States. Any country in Central/South America or the Caribbean makes service a lot more practical. Additional benefits come from the U.S. sanctions from NAFTA and the CBI (Caribbean Basin Initiative). These tariff breaks tip the scales heavily in favor of bamboo products being produced in the western hemisphere. And if it can be made for cheaper over here, we can all benefit from the price tag coming down a little bit. Not only can bamboo be traded internationally as a raw material, but each of these countries can achieve higher specialization by using this raw material to make goods that are in demand. Bamboo is one of the most versatile resources. It can be used for organic bamboo sheets, bamboo organic blankets, dishware, panels, siding, flooring, construction materials, shirts, socks, etc. Each of these factories could employ hundreds of people, and the exports could bring in much needed revenue to some of the poorest countries on our side of the globe.
As the world continues to become more aware of the necessity of earth-friendly living choices, we the consumers can have a little more pride in our green efforts knowing that our demands are truly changing the world. Bamboo forests are being planted all over because we have spoken up about the kinds of products we want. Here is to us, and here is to the planet we will all save, together.