Benefits of Bamboo

You’ve probably appreciated the aesthetic value of bamboo during your life, but have you appreciated it for its countless other positive qualities?  Here are just a few of them:

  • Bamboo grows quickly.  Some species of bamboo can grow more than three feet in a single 24-hour period.  Such rapid growth allows bamboo to be harvested more quickly than its competitors.  For instance, trees take anywhere from 20-60 years to reach maturity, which means that when a tree is harvested, it will take at least a few decades to replace the resource that was used.  And why exactly does bamboo grow so quickly?  Because it is a grass, and one of the fastest growing grasses on earth.  This makes bamboo a highly renewable resource, because it can be replenished so quickly.
  • Bamboo doesn’t require very much water.  When grown in its natural habitat, bamboo requires no irrigation whatsoever.  By comparison, cotton, a crop used for other textiles, requires an immense amount of water.  To grow enough cotton to make a single cotton t-shirt, the same amount of water is required that a person drinks over three years.
  • Bamboo produces lots of oxygen.  Bamboo produces 35% more oxygen than an equivalent grove of trees.  One scientist even predicted that because of the immense amount of oxygen produced by bamboo, if we were to plant a lot more bamboo, we could end global warming in just six years.bamboo renewable resource
  • Bamboo doesn’t require pesticides or insecticides.  This is also in contrast to cotton, a crop that uses 25% of pesticides worldwide while only being grown on 3% of the world’s farmland.  That is a staggering contrast.  Additionally, because pesticides and insecticides contain many chemicals dangerous to humans, several of which have been linked to the growth of cancer cells, bamboo is a crop that can be grown without worry about the effects on humans.
  • Bamboo can be made into medicine.  Indian and Chinese medicine alike makes use of various parts of bamboo for medicinal purposes.  Bamboo shavings can be used to treat flu-like symptoms, while its sap can be used to combat fevers and coughing.  Bamboo leaves are also used to resolve fevers, and surprisingly are also utilized in combating fidgeting.
  • Bamboo can provide erosion control.  There are two different types of bamboo:  running bamboo and clumping bamboo.  Clumping bamboo is noninvasive, as it does not spread.  Running bamboo does the opposite – it spreads like wildfire.  The root systems of running bamboos act almost as a net, holding the soil together in ways that it cannot by itself.  Additionally, because of the shape of its leaves, bamboo also reduces soil erosion by limiting the speed at which raindrops reach the soil.  Bamboo can even flourish in those places that soil has been damaged due to too much farming or too much grazing.
  • Bamboo has many different uses.  Bamboo can be used in construction, cooking, textiles, paper, organic blankets, medicine, infrastructure, makeup, diesel fuels, landscaping, musical instruments, charcoal, toys, fishing poles, and electric filaments, to name just a few of its uses.

    Bamboo textiles in the form of bed sheets.

    Bamboo textiles in the form of bed sheets.

  • Bamboo is part of a panda’s diet.  Pandas can eat between 20 and 30 pounds of bamboo every day.  Their round faces are adapted to consuming this woody grass, as they boast long, strong jaw muscles that enable the pandas to crush the fibers of bamboos.  They also have very large molars that are adapted for the consumption of bamboo.
  • Bamboo is edible (even for humans).  If you frequently consume Asian cuisine, it is likely that you have at some point eaten a bamboo shoot or two.  In China, southeastern Asia, and India, bamboo is frequently used in food preparation, whether it be the shoots, the leaves, or the stalk.  In some parts of Africa bamboo is even used to make a popular soft drink called ulanzi.
  • Bamboo provides jobs.  As bamboo is being increasingly heralded as a renewable resource, bamboo plantations are sprouting up in different parts of the globe.  Most recently, bamboo plantations are becoming more widespread in Mexico and Central America.  Not only are these plantations helping to reduce pollution and improve air quality in these areas, but they are providing jobs to the people there as well.  The jobs created by these bamboo plantations are both direct and indirect, as factories to produce lumber and textiles from the bamboo that is grown are located near the plantations.  The thousands of jobs being created are invaluable to these countries that unfortunately are home to many poor people.  However, with more bamboo plantations cropping up with each passing year, more people are able to lift themselves out of poverty thanks to the unique plant that is bamboo.

 

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