Bamboo grows on every continent of the world except for Antarctica. There are over 1,400 different species of bamboo that have managed to eminently adapt to environmental conditions. For many people bamboo seems like such a mundane plant that it is hard to imagine how important it is for the future health of the planet. Bamboo can be used for many purposes and as such matters a lot. This post will try to explain a little about the importance of bamboo.
Bamboo is the fastest growing plant. It has been recorded as capable of growing 24 inches in a single day. Bamboo has a remarkable ability to ward off disease and insect attack and so can be grown without fertilizers or pesticides. Bamboo needs less water than trees and produces more oxygen than trees. All this makes bamboo an ideal renewable resource.
For many communities the growing of bamboo is a vital economic activity. Bamboo can also be used for constructing homes. In many parts of the world bamboo is still used as scaffolding in building construction. Bamboo also is an important source of nourishment as its young roots can be eaten.
It is possible to compress strands of bamboo to make strand woven bamboo. This is as hard as many hardwoods. Strand woven bamboo flooring is an ideal substitute for hardwood flooring that can help to reduce deforestation.
Strand woven bamboo can be worked like normal wood and carved into any shape. Thus it is possible to make a great many household items from bamboo. Such popular bamboo house items include chopping boards, place mats, bowls, serving utensils and even furniture.
Bamboo can also be cut into very fine strips and strung together to make bamboo blinds. These improve the insulation in a room and are also hypo-allergenic. Outdoor bamboo blinds filter out the sun’s UV rays and also provide privacy as you can see out but people cannot see in.
Another use of bamboo is for organic farming. Bamboo charcoal can be mixed with soil to work as an organic pesticide and fertilizer. The Japanese use bamboo charcoal in this way to grow green tea. Bamboo is also ideal for land reclamation. After the nuclear attacks on Nagasaki and Hiroshima bamboo was planted to clean the soil of radioactivity. It is hoped they do the same in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster.
When bamboo charcoal is made a gas comes off that it is possible to cool down and filter. This is called bamboo vinegar. It is slightly acidic and antimicrobial. Bamboo vinegar has been used for centuries by the Chinese for medicine. Nowadays people use bamboo vinegar to detox by putting bamboo vinegar foot patches on the feet. Another use of bamboo vinegar is to clean flooring, kitchen surfaces, toilets and windows. It can also be used to kill mold and as a natural bug spray.
The more ways that we learn to use bamboo the better it will be for the health of the environment. Bamboo is food, it is money, it is a building material, it is a floor material, it is a cleaning agent and it is a medicine. Can you think of anything else with so many useful properties? Bamboo clearly matters in San Diego as much as anywhere else in the world.