Bamboo is beloved the world over for its versatility, durability, and sustainability. An old Asian saying declares: “A man is born in a bamboo cradle and goes away in a bamboo coffin. Everything in between is possible with bamboo!”
They knew what they were talking about. It can be turned into paper, flooring, clothing, and steering wheels — and that’s just the beginning.
Oh, the Places Bamboo Can Go
If you love cooking, you can use bamboo rice containers, steamer baskets, chopsticks, and cooking utensils. Check out Robinson’s range of bamboo products praised by both the World Wildlife Fund® for its protection of the Giant Panda habitat and the Forest Stewardship Council for its responsible harvesting of bamboo.
If you’re a builder, good quality bamboo is an excellent option for flooring, molding, beams, and veneer that stand up well to moisture and environmental disasters such as earthquakes. Look at Ettitude – eco living made easy for a wide range of bamboo clothing and linens.
The fashionista (or environmentally conscious home manager) can fill her closets with bamboo socks, underwear, sheets, towels, and even bullet proof vests.
The options for bamboo seem to be limited only by imagination. Clever people have turned it into glossy bathtubs and musical instruments like the didgeridoo.
Buying Bamboo for You
Although bamboo is an environmental rock star due to its rapid growth and ease in renewing itself, the discerning buyer must look for quality.
While top quality bamboo is more expensive, it consistently has the brilliant qualities that the plant is known for such as strength, resistance to humidity, and non-toxicity. Unfortunately, some manufacturers try to skate by using bamboo that is green, cheap, and soft, resulting in products that are easily damaged and susceptible to damp and wear.
Teragren uses only Moso bamboo grown in the Zhejiang province of China. Of the 1,500 species of bamboo, Moso is one of the hardest with dense fibers that is at its best after 5-6 years of growth. This makes it more expensive but also more durable.
If you fork over the money for top quality bamboo, you can rest easy knowing that your flooring or furniture will stand up to even the most intense everyday use, and your conscience can be clear knowing you’re investing in a product that not only is fast and easy to grow, but gives back to the environment by producing copious amounts of oxygen.
Bamboo is Forever (With a Little Help)
Even when you do get good quality bamboo, be aware that prolonged exposure to intense light can cause it to fade, so use area rugs or curtains to preserve the look of your bamboo flooring or furniture.
There are other ways to enhance the longevity of your bamboo products.
If you have bamboo flooring, make sure a build up of dust and grit is avoided since it works like sandpaper on the surface. For high traffic areas and entrances, use protective mats. Avoid letting animals run on them as their claws can leave deep scratches and nicks. Use soft coasters or felt pads on furniture legs to prevent scratching.
If you’re using bamboo products in your kitchen, such as bamboo spatulas or cutting boards, treat them with food grade mineral oil before using and periodically during the life of your item. If you use the items for raw meats, be sure to disinfect them with a mild vinegar or bleach solution, followed by a thorough cleaning, drying, and oiling.
If you’re purchasing bamboo clothing or household linens, treat them even more gently than you do cotton. Wash gently in cold water (bamboo fabric does shrink!) and line dry when possible.
Buy the best quality bamboo products, care for them, and they will serve you well for many years to come.
Photo credits: Casey Yee, Shaun McRae, Mattes, and author.