It’s the most versatile natural material in existence. Bamboo can grow up to a foot a day, is incredibly resilient to drought and disease and the end product is a material that we can build with, use to make clothes - and even eat.
So let’s celebrate this amazing plant by taking a look at some of its many and varied uses - from fishing rods to bike frames - let’s hear it for World Bamboo day!
Photo courtesy of Zimpenfish
Modern materials may offer technological wizardry, but simply put, there is nothing is as good to cast as a hand-built split cane fly rod. The smoothness of action of a bamboo rod in the hands of an expert is unequalled. And then too, there’s the delight in owning something beautiful. It takes a skilled craftsman over 100 hours to make a split cane fly rod. Bamboo, silk thread, nickel silver and cork, go into creating what many think of as a work of art. Bamboo fishing rods can last for decades if well cared for - a truly splendid bamboo creation.
Photo courtesy of Steve Cadman
What’s so amazing about that, you might say, but bamboo really is an incredible scaffolding material. Lightweight, yet incredibly strong, scaffolders in Hong Kong are known as, ‘spiders’. They use nothing but bamboo and nylon ties to scale 50 story buildings - the techniques - passed down the generations. It takes several years of training to become a bamboo scaffolder - and unsurprisingly, it takes a certain amount of nerve to do the job. Those with a fear of heights need not apply.
Photo courtesy of Uncleweed
For an ecologically sound alternative to cotton - look no further. Bamboo yields are many times higher than those of cotton and use no nasty chemicals. Consider too that a single kilo of cotton can guzzle 20,000 litres of water during production, compared to nothing but the rain for the same amount of bamboo. Because it’s a grass, bamboo doesn’t need replanting when cut - it simply regenerates and its roots help prevent soil erosion. That’s one strong case for buying bamboo undies.
Photo courtesy of Noah Scalin
The concept of a bamboo bike frame is nothing new - in fact the 1894 London Stanley bike exhibition featured no less than 12 grass frames. But people put their faith in industrial processes before grown materials. Over a hundred years later and Bamboo is back. It’s not as light as the best carbon fibre, but not far off, and it’s very stiff too. But what marks bamboo out as a bike builder’s dream is the material's ability to absorb vibration. For a comfortable ride, you simply can’t get better than a bamboo frame.
Photo courtesy of Greencolander
What could be better than a beer that’s good for you? Many claims are made about the health benefits of the regular consumption of bamboo beer. Full of antioxidants, the brew is marketed as a sure way to drink yourself to better health. Whether you believe the health claims or not, perhaps depends upon whether you feel the need to justify the desire for a cold one after a hard day’s work.
Here’s to World Bamboo Day!