As we work towards a greener and more sustainable future, we’re going to need natural materials that want to work with us. One of the most overlooked smart materials in the world is bamboo. Many people are familiar with it’s versatility, but few know the true extent of the life enhancing benefits that it provides.
Bamboo is the fastest growing plant in the world, with reports of some species growing 1-4 feet per day (though most grow 1-4 inches, but still)! A common misconception of bamboo is that it’s a wood; it’s actually a grass. It’s nearly pest resistant and able to grow in a wide variety of climates, both hot and cold. Bamboo is easy to maintain as it requires little water. Bamboo can shelter us, feed us, and purify our air: it’s designed to help us in more ways than we know.
Since it is a grass, the productive stalks of the plant can be harvested every three years, and more will grow immediately in their place. In fact, there are horror stories of bamboo growing too fast and being impossible to get rid of once it’s roots have spread! That was all before bamboo’s true potential was realized.
Bamboo’s claim to fame is it’s ridiculous strength; in fact, a one inch thick piece can hold over 7 tons of weight! Bamboo has become a popular option not only for floors, but for homes as well. Homes built with bamboo have been shown to withstand the most extreme of natural disasters, including 175 mph hurricane winds and 7.5+ scale earthquakes. Bamboo likes to take a bend, don’t break approach. To build a home, you’d use 90% less materials than from traditional trees, which take ten times longer to grow. Kind of seems like a no brainer.
When you’re not living under the protection of bamboo, why not eat it? Bamboo shoots are considered a delicacy in India, it’s sweet and rich in nutrients. While you’re at it, why not wash them down with an ice cold beer derived from bamboo? A match made in Heaven. Finely ground bamboo naturally kills odors in a similar fashion to baking soda, and is used in this manner in Asia. Bamboo has medicinal properties; it can been used to cure fevers, as well as respiratory diseases. Women can enjoy this grass on their bodies and skin in the form of beauty products and clothing struck from bamboo. For the outgoing and athletic, helmets and bicycles from bamboo are lightweight and durable. Finally, why not use some bamboo to protect your vital technology in the form of a bamboo phone case, or a laptop built with a bamboo shell.
The final and most beneficial use for this overlooked supergrass is it’s innate ability to absorb carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere! Like similar trees and plants, bamboo feeds off of CO2 through photosynthesis, producing essential sugars that become bamboo fibers. It is said that just one acre of bamboo growth can eat 40 tons of carbon dioxide per year. Many argue that global warming is a hoax, but what is not a hoax is that CO2 retains heat. The more CO2 there is, the more heat that is retained. Bamboo could be one of our greatest allies in holding these heat retaining molecules at bay.
While bamboo has been essential to the lives of many for thousands of years, we’re still uncovering amazing ways to utilize our friendly grass. If you have yet to experience the wonder of bamboo, you may soon have no choice.
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