THE POWER OF BAMBOO
Throughout Asia, bamboo has always been regarded as sacred, symbolizing grace, strength, flexibility, endurance and longevity. The mystique and beauty of the bamboo forest is one of the most common themes for paintings and jade carvings. Ancient Chinese literature held bamboo in profound esteem: “When the storm comes, the bamboo bends with the wind. When the storm ceases, it resumes its upright position.” Bamboo is a symbol of the harmony between nature and human beings.
- Higher tensile strength than many alloys of steel
- Higher compressive strength than many mixtures of concrete
- Higher strength-to-weight ratio than graphite
- Unlike wood, bamboo has no rays or knows, allowing it to withstand more stress throughout the length of each stalk.
- Bamboo’s sectional anatomy, both as a can and on a microscopic fiber level, enhances its structural integrity.
- The high silica content in bamboo fibers make it resistant to outside elements.
The antibacterial properties of bamboo are the most profound reason that bamboo grows so rapidly in nature. Because bamboo has an inherit natural barricade against bacteria, most varieties of bacteria and bugs that attempt to thrive on the bamboo plant are eradicated naturally on contact. Bamboo is one of the rare plants that can survive all that nature can throw at it.
Controlled testing and sampling by the China Textile Industry Testing Centre produced astonishing results. The tests concluded that after introducing bacteria to a specimen of woven bamboo fabric, a 99.8% reduction in bacteria was observed over a 24-hour period. In a different independent study by The Japan Textile Inspection Association, results proved that bamboo material could eradicate over 70% of introduced bacteria during a period of 24 hours. And that result was after an incredible 50 industrial wash cycles. Bamboo material will also combat yeast, mould and fungus cultivation.
Trees used for conventional wood take 30-50 years to regenerate to their full mass. In the meantime, there is less oxygen produced, less carbon dioxide consumed, and more soil runoff in the spot where the tree was harvested – all producing harmful environmental effects. This is compared to finite materials like plastic, which is petroleum based and biodegrade at a rate of 500-1,000 years.
- Bamboo is known as the fastest growing plant on Earth. Some species have been measured to grow over 4 feet in 24 hours.
- A pole of bamboo can regenerate to its full mass in just six months!
Bamboo can be continuously re-harvested every 3 years, without causing damage to the plant system and surrounding environment.
- During the time it takes to regenerate, the bamboo plant’s root system stays intact so erosion is prevented.
- Continuous harvesting of this woody grass every 3-7 years, actually improves the overall health of the plant.
Once hardwood forests are clear-cut and the stumps are burned to provide fertilizer and space for growing crops, erosion inevitably occurs as the topsoil and nutrients are washed away by rainfall. The eroded soil then clogs rivers and streams and affects the lives of people and animals living downstream. Bamboo roots remain in place after harvesting where they prevent erosion and help retain nutrients for the next crop. Bamboo’s incredibly thick rhizome root system helps maintain soil integrity. This prevents landslides and keeps nutrients from getting dumped into rivers and lakes where they can harm the ecosystem. The following real-life stories demonstrate just how important bamboo is in preventing dangerous erosion.
Perhaps even more important, given the carbon dioxide emissions thought to be responsible for global warming and the threat to biodiversity, bamboo produces more than 35% more oxygen than trees. Research in Japan and elsewhere has demonstrated that bamboo can absorb as much as 12 tonnes of carbon dioxide per hectare per year, giving the plant a potentially crucial role in stabilising our planet's atmosphere.