Bamboo

 

Bamboo. It’s amazing. Often mistaken for a wood because of its appearance and texture, bamboo is actually part of the grass family. Like the mighty Aspen groves of Colorado, bamboo has an extensive, interconnected root system that allows it to grow into forests over large expanses. Having trouble visualizing a bamboo forest? Recall the perilous trek back to the house in Honey I Shrunk The Kids; big darn, gorgeous, fast-growing, environment-cleaning grass.

There are over 1500 species of bamboo, some of which can grow up to 3 feet a day and reach a max height of over 100 ft.

Everyone who’s anyone knows that bamboo is incredibly strong and that is due to thousands of tiny fibers that run the length of the culm in addition to its hollow cylinder shape. These fibers are what makes our rings look so awesome. The tiny detailed dots in our rings are actually cross cut sections of those very fibers. Try to count them, there are many.

This super fast-growing, strong plant has been used for thousands of years by cultures all around the world. It has become a staple in the lives of over a billion people on the planet who use it for everything from housing and clothing to a source of food. Bamboo is used to make scaffolding as tall as 60 stories, as medicine, and has become a popular flooring and building material all over the planet.

More impressive than bamboo’s versatility as a raw material is its impact on the environment. Its expansive root structure protects against soil erosion and landslides. Bamboo’s root network and rapid growth also allow it to produce usable material as much as 12 times faster than wood and can produce 20 times as much usable material as a patch of trees with a similar footprint.

The most important environmental benefit of bamboo, however, is how it cleans our air. When we do things like run our cars or burn...anything, we release Carbon into the atmosphere. For decades, scientists have been studying the effects of Carbon on the atmosphere and the findings are not good. Atmospheric Carbon affects how the sun reaches our planet and how heat leaves our planet which has major effects on plants and animals around the world as well as the temperature of our planet and oceans. The reason that bamboo is so eco-friendly is that it sequesters Carbon from the atmosphere at a much higher rate than most plants. Once the Carbon is absorbed by the bamboo, it is made into plant fiber and remains in the bamboo until it is discarded and decomposed.