Bamboo as a building material, for fences and flooring especially, has been growing more and more popular in recent years. Marketed as a "green" alternative to hardwood, bamboo is a sustainable and eco-friendly source of raw material. But what exactly makes it so? Here are three main reasons why bamboo is a green alternative to traditional building materials.
The main reason behind bamboo's eco-friendliness is its rapid growth cycle. Bamboo is actually not a wood, but a type of grass. As such, it grows very quickly and matures at a much faster rate than hardwood trees. During the main part of its growth season, which lasts about four months, a bamboo plant can grow an average of 60 centimeters in a single day. There are certain species of bamboo that can even grow up to 121 centimeter in one day. Bamboo forests can be harvested between their 3rd and 7th year of maturity. When a bamboo plant is cut down, its root system remains intact and actually sprouts more shoots that reach maturity again within a few years. Thus, bamboo harvesting, if done at the appropriate times, can have no negative effects on the bamboo forest's ecosystem. By contrast, a hardwood forest can take over a hundred years to recover after being logged.
A bamboo forest can produce 25 times more building material in just one harvest that an entire hardwood forest. In fact, over the course of five years, one bamboo plant can yield about 200 bamboo poles. Five years is roughly the same amount of time it would take for a hardwood tree to grow big enough to be worth using for material.
Good for the Planet
Bamboo is not just one of the most resilient plants in the world, it is also highly beneficial to the environment. A single bamboo plant produces 35% more oxygen than an equally sized cluster of hardwood trees. Bamboo is also a great plant to use for reforesting areas of land. According to the World Wildlife Fund, one acre of bamboo can store approximately 6.88 metric tons of carbon every year, which is 70% more than what an acre of hardwoods can store. When bamboo is turned into flooring or a thatch umbrella and treated so that it won't rot, the carbon can be kept fixed for decades.