In the fight against plastic pollution, we are desperately searching for strong, durable and sustainable materials that can take the place of plastic in our everyday lives.
Paper and wood have always been quick to take the place of plastic, but this has led to rapid deforestation that only contributes to the threats to our planet’s future.
But rising as a star resource comes a material that used to be only associated with panda food and decorative fencing. Bamboo is the new hot trend in sustainable materials, and here’s why it’s not only our favorite, but why it’s here to stay.
A single pine tree takes 25-30 years to reach harvesting maturity. This means that for every tree cut down to make everything from coffee tables to new homes, we won’t see another one of its same size and oxygen-producing power for decades.
Bamboo, on the other hand, only takes 3-5 years to reach maturity. Not only that, it requires less water, no fertilizer, and produces 35% more oxygen than an equivalent group of trees.
This rapid growth and ability to grow using less resources makes bamboo much more able to keep up with the demands of our modern lives while minimizing the negative impact on our environment.
Less is More
“According to UNESCO, 70 hectares of bamboo produces enough material to build 1000 homes.”
Because of bamboo’s unique structure that includes a hollow inside and longitudinal fibers, less material mass is required compared to timber. This means a lighter weight for the same size and strength.
Not only that, but bamboo grows in tightly packed clusters, meaning more material can be produced using less land.
And as we mentioned before, it uses less water to grow, an increasingly precious resource.
Strong and Flexible (Like Your Favorite Yoga Teacher)
Where bamboo really shines is in its strength and flexibility. Certain species of bamboo are as strong as steel and can withstand twice the compression weight as concrete. But being tough isn’t all that bamboo has to offer.
It is also an incredibly flexible material when it’s fresh. While it’s growing, it can be easily manipulated to grow into pre-determined shapes, and after it’s harvested it can also be manipulated and bent into whatever shapes the builder desires.
Due to its hollow structure, it is also shock absorbing, making it perfect for building structures in earthquake-prone areas.
Bamboo can bend over backwards in ways wood never has for us, with none of the destruction baggage that plastic brings.
Cheap (But In a Good Way)
Bamboo is a cheap and easily accessible material for people all over the world for the following reasons:
- It takes up less space to grow
- It grows faster
- It’s easier to harvest
- It’s lighter and easier to transport
This is one example where being cheap is a very, very good thing.
From coffee cups to houses, companies all over the world are producing sustainable products made with bamboo and reducing their dependency on plastic and lumber in an effort to slow down the devastating impact these materials are having on our planet.
Some companies, like RIO, take it one step further and use the proceeds to fund cleanup efforts and activism all over the world. Click here to find out more about how RIO is using your sustainable bamboo product purchases to fight ocean pollution worldwide.