For some reason, bamboo is a common topic of discussion in my house lately. I thought I would pass on a little information to my readers about the pros and cons of bamboo and whether or not it is as environmentally friendly as everyone thinks! There are quite a few uses for this amazingly fast growing grass (did you know it is actually a grass?) and I will discuss each one below…(take into consideration, please, that I am NOT a bamboo expert, just passing along information I have found through my own research) If you want to add more bamboo into your life, you can start with small changes like bamboo utensils or something as complicated as bamboo landscaping. Just make sure you are ready to keep it under control if you plant it!
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Pros and Cons of Bamboo
Bamboo flooring advantages:
When it comes to the pro’s and con’s of bamboo flooring, there is a bit of a controversy around this topic. While there are definite advantages of bamboo floors, you should weigh both sides of the argument before making your decision. Here are a few advantages to bamboo flooring:
- If harvested and processes correctly, it is extremely hard and durable, even to the occasional water spill.
- It is extremely fast growing compared to hardwood trees and therefor more product can be grown in a smaller area. It also requires fewer pesticides and is drought tolerant.
- Bamboo flooring is easier on the legs…even though extremely hard there is a fair amount of flexibility to it and makes it more comfortable to stand on for long periods of time (like when you are cooking in the kitchen!).
- Flooring made from bamboo is extremely easy to clean.
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Bamboo flooring disadvantages:
You are probably comparing bamboo flooring vs hardwood for your home renovation project. While bamboo floors certainly have their benefits, there are a few bamboo flooring problems that should not be ignored.
- Bamboo is a hot product now, with everyone wanting to cash in on this great money maker. Research your sources carefully because quality varies greatly! Bamboo that is harvested too young and/or not processed properly will NOT have the same durability as a nice aged and properly treated product.
- Another big disadvantage (also related to poor treatment processes) is the release of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which can cause headaches and allergies in susceptible individuals.
- Cost is high for bamboo floor due to high demand.
Bamboo Clothing, Towels, etc.
Advantages of bamboo fabric
- Fabric made from bamboo is softer than cotton with a texture similar to silk.
- It is a naturally antibacterial (although see note under disadvantages!) and hypoallergenic product grown without the use of chemicals or pesticides.
- It is also quick to absorb moisture, therefore keeping you dry and odor free. This is great for workout clothes!
- Pure bamboo clothes can dry twice as fast as cotton clothes.
- Bamboo clothes can be worn all year round as they keep you cool in summer and warm in winter.
- Bamboo fabric is created from bamboo pulp. The fabric is bleached without the use of chlorine. Bamboo fabric is easy to dye and is done so without the use of harsh chemicals and using methods which use less water than conventional dyeing methods.
Disadvantages of bamboo fabric:
Of course, for every advantage, there is a disadvantage, right? While there are many advantages of bamboo fabric, you need to give careful consideration to how you are wearing it and how you plan on caring for it.
- Although it is suggested that bamboo has natural antibacterial properties, because it is so absorbent the fibers absorb a lot of sweat and can actually encourage microbial growth.
- Bamboo fibers can also allow UV light to penetrate the cloth and it does not offer great protection from the sun.
- Cost is a big concern…bamboo is a hot product now and will carry a higher price tag compared to cotton.
Bamboo Kitchen Items:
Advantages to bamboo in the kitchen:
If you have a foodie in your life, bamboo kitchen items are a great sustainable gift idea for them.
- Safer than plastic, does not contain harsh chemicals or dyes
- Won’t break, even if dropped..unlike ceramic or glass
- Has natural antibiotic properties
Bamboo as an ornamental grass
- Provides a great visual barrier between one house and another or makes a great screen if you live along a busy road.
- Is perennial and will come back every year
- Is drought tolerant and requires almost no care to thrive. Important here in the south!
- Actually provides more oxygen to the environment per square inch than trees or other types of grasses.
- Extensive root system provides for great erosion control
Disadvantages of Bamboo Landscaping:
Bamboo as FOOD!
Low in fat, calories, and cholesterol, bamboo shoots are high in dietary fiber and a great source of potassium! They’re also a good source of Protein, Riboflavin, Niacin, Iron, Vitamin E, Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Vitamin B6, Calcium, Thiamin, Phosphorus, Zinc, Copper, and Manganese. They also contain certain phytochemicals (plant-derived chemical compounds) such as lignans, which are purported to have anticancer, antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties, and also phenolic acids, which have mild anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties.
BIGGEST ENVIRONMENTAL CONCERN!
Diane has a Bachelor’s degree in Microbiology with a Minor in Health Management and Policy. She spent many years working in cancer research, academics, and biotechnology. Concern over the growing incidence of human disease and the birth of her children led her to begin living a more natural life. She quickly realized that the information she was learning along the way could be beneficial to many others and started blogging as a way to share this knowledge with others. While passionate about health and the environment she can’t quite give up her favorite Cheetos and Diet Coke! Learn more about her HERE.