It is going to be difficult for many people this Christmas to get into the spirit of the occasion. Prices are rising, a double dip recession seems more and more likely, unemployment is at record highs in many areas, people are losing money on their house values daily and people are losing their homes daily. As many people, including President Obama, have pointed out now is the time to think outside of the narrow economic box of bottom lines and profit margins and time to broaden our notions of benefits to include environmental factors.

This has been more than reinforced by the recent Deep Horizon oil spill. Pollution costs. Now is the chance to invest in the future by becoming more environmentally friendly in all aspects of our lives. And a good place to start is with the home. We spend 90% of our lives indoors and for the average person the most expensive item they will buy in their life will be a house.

One of the greatest challenges that we face is to fit the square peg of our consumer culture into the round hole of caring for the environment. One of the ways we can achieve this seemingly impossible feat is by buying products made from renewable resources. Hardwood, plastics (made from non-renewable oil supplies) and metals are precious resources that are limited in supply. Our dependence on these materials is not sustainable.

Renewable resources are called such because they can be grown quickly enough to meet demand. It is a sustainable process. One material that fits into that category is bamboo.

Bamboo is the fastest growing plant on the planet. It reaches maturity in just 5 to 7 years. Compare that with the millennia needed to make oil. Bamboo requires less water than trees and produces more oxygen than trees. Furthermore, bamboo can be grown in a wide variety of climates and can be made to flourish without the need for fertilizers and pesticides.

Bamboo is strong, hard, flexible, anti-microbial and can be used in the same way as timber. It is ideal to make a number of household products such as bamboo blinds, mats, kitchenware, furniture, garden furniture and office supplies.

So think about buying a few bamboo Christmas gifts this year and invest in a brighter future. It is one way of doing something about the mess we are currently in.