By Fredrica Syren:
We recently replaced plastic in our kitchen with bamboo. So now we have kids’ spoons and baby spoons, cutting boards, slotted spoons and spatulas all made from bamboo. Why, you might wonder? Because bamboo is a green alternative to plastic and woody raw materials. With increased knowledge about sustainability, there is more demand for eco-friendly options, so bamboo products are becoming more popular.
Able to grow up to 39 inches (100 cm) or more in a single day, bamboo is one of the world’s fastest growing plants. It reaches full size within 3 to 4 months, and within 3 to 7 years, the stalk hardens enough for use in construction. Growing bamboo does not require a huge amount of land because, with only one, you can grow and harvest up to 60 tons of bamboo. Compare this to trees that take decades to reach their full size and yield only 20 tons per hectare.
Bamboo is sustainable because it requires no pesticides, irrigation or fertilizers, so growing organic bamboo is cheap and easy. Furthermore, bamboo also absorbs large quantities of carbon dioxide emissions (more than trees do) and generates up to 35 percent more oxygen, making bamboo important in light of global deforestation.
There is a catch, however. Lots of commercially raised bamboo is grown in Asia, where there are few regulations to preserve their forests, so an increased demand could cause growers to use more land to grow more bamboo. This then may threaten an already endangered habitat and species, such as the panda bear. The panda bear’s main diet is bamboo and their natural habitat is in the mountains of China, the same area where bamboo is being harvested for commercial use, so harvesting too much bamboo would cut down on their food source.
Now, the good news is that there is bamboo being grown in the U.S. So when you buy bamboo, make sure it’s organic and U.S. grown. Keep it sustainable and make sure to support the panda bears.