18th September is World Bamboo Day. Discover abundance and support better ways of living.

Bamboo Jersey Dress

The World Bamboo Day was started as a movement in 2009 by World Bamboo Organisation to spread awareness about the benefits of this wonderful environmentally friendly renewable resource and support its sustainable farming.

The organisation aims to show how sustainable use and cultivation of bamboo for traditional and new industries or new applications can protect natural environment and support development of local communities. 

The “Green Gold”

Bamboo is a natural wonder, resilient, adaptable, with immense biodiversity and some of its species named the fastest growing plant in the Guinness World Records.

Bamboo species can restore land, absorb heavy metals, create shade, harbour wildlife, supply materials, nutritional food and alternative fibre, recycle carbon dioxide, and clean the air.

What you need to know

The more it gets harvested, the faster it grows.

Rather than directing energy towards regaining its lost height, a cut bamboo stalk will unfurl new leaves. These leaves, in turn, create and send energy down to the root system to encourage the growth of new shoots. 

According to One Tree Planted, cutting bamboo stimulates growth.

That makes it an incredible renewable resource that can be harvested and will regenerate naturally without the need for manual reforestation.

Bamboo plant can be harvested sustainably in 3–5 years cycle unlike a tree forest that takes over 60 years to recover from deforestation.
 
 

What is the catch?

With its increasing popularity, large areas of land are now being cleared to be planted with bamboo. When it is planted as a crop it’s also often done so all other varieties are removed creating monocultures. This can lead to the displacement of wildlife and a decrease in the biodiversity of existing ecosystems.  

On the other hand, planting and managing sustainable bamboo forests helps with rural development, housing, variety of products and mitigation of the climate change.

With their unique characteristics, quick growth and extensive root systems bamboo species can reduce erosion, stabilise slopes, absorb heavy metals, create shade, harbour wildlife, recycle carbon dioxide, and clean the air.

Looking for FSC-certified materials will ensure that they are responsibly sourced from forests managed to strict environmental, social and economic standards.

 

Bamboo can restore land and conserve water

Because bamboo is a grass, it has a very shallow root system. But with its roots so densely clumped, they do a great job at holding the top layer of the soil together, thus preventing soil erosion. 

With its long root systems, ability to grow on degraded soils and steep slopes, and extremely fast growth, bamboo can revegetate even the most degraded soils within a short period.

Studies show cases where bamboo was used to restore degraded land in eight countries.

For example, in the case study of Allahabad, India, severely degraded soil – the result of an intensive brickmaking industry – staged a remarkable recovery after planting with bamboo: within 20 years, the groundwater table had increased by 10 metres, and agricultural crops and tree species had been incorporated into a bamboo landscape. 

In Chishui, China, bamboo plantations had 25 per cent less water runoff than adjacent sweet potato farms. In Nepal, a similar plantation helped reduce soil erosion and flood damage, and in Ghana bamboo is being used to restore degraded mining areas.

 

Bamboo is fire-proof

Because the plant contains large amounts of silicate acid, it is abnormally flame resistant. This is good news in fire-prone regions of the world, where other tree and grass species are regularly devastated by wildfires

 

 

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10x

faster CO2 absorption than trees

30%

more oxygen production than trees

3.8cm/hr

Guinness record speed of growth

21%

Stronger than steel under tension

Material of the future

The use of bamboo in construction, automobile, textiles, packaging and other potential fields can eliminate the need for materials like steel, plastic, carbon fibre, etc. This further reduces the emission of greenhouse gasses in huge quantities and helps reduce pollution from micro-plastics.

 

It’s nutritious and full of vital elements for human health

Bamboo shoots have been used as a nutritious food for years. Studies have also found that the culm, shoot and leaf of bamboo possess anti-oxidation, anti-ageing, antibacterial and antiviral properties. Some materials extracted from it are used in fresh flavour and preservation of food.

Its leaf contains 2–5% flavine and phenolic compound that fights active oxy-free radicals, stopping nitrification and abating blood fat. Research has also shown that bamboo charcoal as one of the base materials for human health, from water treatment to its uses as a shield from electromagnetic radiation.

Bamboo in textiles

It is important to understand that almost all bamboo fibre used in industrial textile production is no longer natural but is a product for which the bamboo cellulose has been regenerated through a viscose/rayon process and can, therefore, not be considered as natural or even organic fibre, even if the plant was originally certified as organic, in the field. 

Bamboo-based viscose fibres, nonetheless, have plenty of benefits that can overweigh the cons which I will talk about in a separate post. 

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