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Bamboo furniture is one of the most beautiful and sometimes even elaborate. The fact that bamboo is strong and can last for a long time makes this one of the most popular building materials for home furniture and even for home construction. But what is bamboo really? Is it a tree, a wood or a plant? Find out what bamboo is and why it’s so popular from this simple guide.
Bamboo is grass and it is not wood. We are used to calling bamboo plants as “trees” but actually it is a member of the grass family. But it’s not like the grass you are used to seeing in your yard.
Bamboo grass can be harder than oak and this depends on the species or type of bamboo. The standard bamboo is actually 50% harder than the North American Red Oak tree! Bamboo can grow very fast too, just like an average grass. You can already harvest bamboo in just five years to make furniture and other wooden items while it could take an oak tree 60 years to fully mature and be ready for harvest.
Using bamboo for flooring
Using bamboo for flooring may be the most common application of bamboo wood. It was even introduced as better and greener alternative to hardwood floors in the early 1990s and since then, bamboo sales have doubled. The U.S. Green Building Council labels bamboo hardwood flooring as an ideal product to be used as flooring because it is attractive and can grow almost anywhere.
Bamboo hardwoods are made from a factory in Vietnam rather than China. Vietnamese farmers own their own land, therefore, they have an incentive not to prematurely harvest their crop. And before you order bamboo from any supplier, make sure that what you are getting is green bamboo. Do your homework and research on your supplier to get the best quality, green deal.
Bamboo for clothing and linens
Bamboo fabric is known to be softer than cotton and has the classiness of silk. The fabric also has antibacterial properties, therefore, its perfect to wear for daytime use. Bamboo fabric is usually found in high-end shops but you can also find bamboo fabric and linens from local retailers. Bamboo fabric can be made into shirts, pants, hats, socks, baby clothes and bedding.
Bamboo fabric isn’t entirely green. Manufacturing bamboo involves bleaching and soaking the bamboo fibers in a caustic lye solvent. The solution is reconstructed into a cellulose fiber and this is woven into yarn for fabric. Waste from these manufacturing plants usually pollute rivers or waters nearby but according to the National Geographic’s Green Guide blog, the manufacture of bamboo still has a much lighter environmental impact compared to the manufacture of conventional cotton, nylon and polyester synthetics.
Furniture, home décor and kitchenware from bamboo
Bamboo is now a part of the modern kitchen and Asian-inspired living rooms. You will find plates and cutlery, seats, tables, cabinets and shelves made from bamboo wood. It is even the best choice among eco-savvy shoppers.
For people who are worried about lead paint and Bisphenol-A, bamboo plates and silverware make a good alternative to plastic dishes. There are even more bamboo kitchen products available in the market including trays, bowls, cutting boards, and baskets.
To make bamboo kitchenware and home décor, the wood is steamed to make it softer and more workable. Steaming also reduces the use of dangerous chemicals like those used in making bamboo flooring and fabric.
Bamboo is green wood
Bamboo wood is one the world’s greenest natural resources. But as its popularity increases, there are worries about the impact of its use as consumable goods. One particular area is the manufacturing of flooring and fabric which can cause environmental pollution.
Additional concerns are all about the growing economic incentives for bamboo farmers to accelerate their crop by premature harvesting and using chemical fertilizers. But despite these, the lowly bamboo remains as one of the greenest alternatives traditional wood. It is also a worthwhile alternative to the use of plastic and other building materials. If you plan to use bamboo, make sure to buy only from trusted and reputable suppliers.