Is it a shrub? Is it a tree? Is it the answer to sustainable building?
Friday, Nov. 7, 2008 | 05:33 PM AT
It's bamboo people! (And I have some freebies for you this week! Keep reading)
And as a matter of fact, bamboo is a member of the grass family. This means:
* It regenerates itself when cut: Picture your lawn. Same principle. Unless you rip it out by the root, you can keep chopping bamboo down and it will keep growing back up. Which, as we all know, is not possible with trees.
* It can reach a height of up to 100 feet in 5 years: Again, trees take MUCH longer and don't always give the same yield.
* No pesticides: Bamboo generally doesn't require much care. This is because the root system of bamboo is filled with a liquid sap called "kun" It's a powerful natural antibiotic and fungicide and it's what gives bamboo clothing its antibacterial properties (more on that later)
* Low water consumption: This actually tips the scales towards bamboo even against organic cotton. Water is a precious and overused resource and harvesting bamboo instead of cotton saves water.
Want free stuff? Keep reading!
But the best quality of bamboo is its versatility. It can be made into:
* Flooring Its hardness and stability make it an excellent choice in our climate (bamboo tends not to expand and contract like some hardwoods, leading to fewer cracks)
* Building materials (walls, panels, cabinetry, etc)
* Clothing: antibacterial, UV-resistant, moisture wicking (great for workout gear). It can also be spun into sheets that feel like silk but are machine washable! mmmmm!
* Food: Not just for pandas... bamboo shoots are used in Asian cuisine and the stems of some species can be ground into flour or fed to livestock
* Disposable plates and cutlery (instead of the evil styrofoam!)
* Kitchen cloths: Okay, you have to try Bamboo Warehouse's kitchen cloths. In fact, I'm going to give you one for free. First 10 people to write in get a Kipunji cloth as shown in the video). They're non-smelly, machine washable and as and when they start to tear, they are fully biodegradable!
* Lucky! Yeah, lucky bamboo. So hardy even I can keep it alive!
Of course, not all bamboo is created equal (as an end product)
So here are some tips on buying good quality bamboo when you're using it for flooring:
1. Darker is better: The more yellow the bamboo, the younger the shoot. Which also makes it less hard/durable
2. Glue: Ask your supplier about what glues have been used in the bamboo. Many suppliers use toxic glues some of which contain formeldahyde and can off gas and create a less-than-hospitable environment for you, kids and pets. If your guy doesn't know, consider shopping around.
Okay, for all its strong points, bamboo isn't perfect.
First of all, you have to ship it in from halfway across the world. Yes, bamboo CAN be grown locally, but it requires far more care in our climate than it does in Asia, so that does compromise its sustainability.
Secondly, because of high demand, virgin forests are being razed and replaced by bamboo plantations in China and India. This is a hard thing to verify, but check if your supplier has any information about responsible forestry practices. And of course, cardinal rule: IF YOU DON'T NEED IT, DON'T BUY IT!
So, about that free stuff...
Leave me a comment about your experiences with bamboo. Have you used it? Would you be willing to use it? And the first 10 folks to write in will get a free washable, anti-bacterial bamboo washcloth. See, aren't you glad you're being green?
Some places to buy bamboo:
1. Bamboo Warehouse: This is the place in the video. The address is:
7675 St Laurent (facing Parc Jarry)
2. Healthiest Home Building Store: They're based in Ottawa and have a wonderful range of healthy, safe and eco-friendly products for your home including bamboo, marmoleum (another sustainable alternative), reclaimed wood and more.
3. For excellent yoga wear that's made-in-Montreal, check out Respecterre. Sooo soft!
So write me, folks. Or call and tell me what you think: (514) 597-5626
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