Bamboo is considered by many to be the ultimate green material. Why? Because it is a fast growing plant that can be harvested in as little as six weeks, but more typically in three to five years. Bamboo reproduces through its extensive system of rhizomes, which are similar to roots. As such there is a continuous supply of bamboo, which meets the definition of a renewable resource. And, of course it is also a sustainable material, capable of sustaining itself with minimal impact to the environment.
Despite it's woody appearance bamboo is a grass and is extremely strong as a raw material. In addition to its many uses in the garden e.g fences and privacy screens, it can also be spun into fibers for fabric, carved into bowls and decorative objects, and crafted into furniture as Asian societies have been doing for hundreds of years, or bamboo flooring and kitchen cabinets.
Living with Bamboo
Serious collectors of Asian antiques are well aware of the beauty and craftsmanship of bamboo furniture, and just about anyone who collects antiques is probably familiar with the beautiful bamboo furniture that was popular in the Victorian period or the kitschy Tiki pieces from the 1950s. Bamboo is experiencing another revival, this time in the guise of green living.
Today you can buy table settings and "silver" ware made from bamboo, cloth napkins made from bamboo fibers, Place your flowers in a vase made from carved bamboo-or you might want to simply cluster a few of your lucky bamboo plants in the center of the table. Under the table you're likely to find one of the most popular flooring materials available today for eco-conscious consumers. You guessed it, bamboo.
Building with Bamboo
Some even speculate that the use of bamboo as a structural load-bearing element will soon make its way into the green building industry. Indeed, with a tensile strength equal to steel and a compression greater than concrete, it seems likely that it is only a matter of time. A professor of civil engineering and one of his students at Santa Clara University created a
bamboo I-Beam as part of a senior project. What they discovered was an economical, "green" building material that was very strong, light weight, easy to construct, and had good resistance to fire and decay.