I have been buying bamboo products for my bathroom for years. Bamboo is better than plastic for many reasons, but the biggest driver for me is that it is a natural and sustainable resource that Europe is only starting to explore. But importing Bamboo from faraway lands to sell locally is terrible for carbon emissions. This is why in this article, I delve into why this plant is so unique, why it is a sustainable resource in Europe, and who is farming it. If you are as intrigued as I was, then read on!
I love the look of Bamboo, a light colour that works well in any bathroom. Despite being a type of grass, it has the same properties as wood, so just like Pine, you can stain it and have a darker hue. This makes it incredibly versatile, and because of its sustainability, I have always felt like I was doing my “bit” for the planet.
Why Is Bamboo a good Sustainable Resource?
Bamboo is a tall tropical grass with stiff, hollow stems. It is grown for construction, flooring, packaging and food. That's right, the root of the bamboo plant is edible! Edible Bamboo shoots are nourishing (I go into this a little further on) and an ideal additive in staying sustainable.
Bamboo is one of the world's fastest-growing plants, with some species capable of growing up to 91 cm (35 inches) in a single day. It can be harvested multiple times yearly, making it a renewable resource. Additionally, bamboo requires far less water and fertiliser than most other crops, making it a more sustainable option for agriculture.
It is, of course, also a beautiful decorative plant, which many people like to put in their gardens to provide privacy or give dimension and depth to the garden's look. And it thrives in poor soil and a warmer climate. This is why the Mediterranean is starting to experience a boom in bamboo farming.
What are the health benefits of Bamboo?
So allow me to try and convince you why you need bamboo in your diet because Bamboo is a great way to improve your overall health and wellness.
- One of the most significant benefits of eating bamboo is its high fibre content. Bamboo shoots contain an impressive 6g of dietary fibre every 100g, which helps reduce constipation and keep the digestive system running smoothly.
- Bamboo is also an excellent source of vitamins and minerals, including vitamins B1, B2, B6, and E. Bamboo contains high magnesium, zinc, copper and potassium levels. All these nutrients are essential for good health, and bamboo makes it easy to get them all in one food!
- Bamboo is also low in fat and calories, making it an excellent choice for those on a diet. Its high fibre content also helps to keep you feeling fuller for longer, so you don't have to worry about snacking on unhealthy foods in between meals 😉
How Is growing bamboo better for the environment?
Growing bamboo has numerous environmental benefits over other crops. Bamboo forests help provide ecosystems for wildlife and help to preserve biodiversity. They also play a critical role in mitigating climate change by absorbing large amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, making them more efficient than standard trees.
I must mention that it's a good idea to avoid buying imported bamboo products from China if you live in Europe.
Firstly, the long-distance transportation of these products contributes to carbon emissions, making them less environmentally friendly than products sourced closer to home. Additionally, there are concerns about the environmental impact of large-scale bamboo farming in China, with reports of deforestation, soil degradation, and water pollution associated with some bamboo operations.
By supporting local European farmers, you can be sure that you're buying a product that has been grown and produced in an environmentally responsible manner. Furthermore, bamboo is a highly efficient crop in terms of land use, as it can be grown on land that has poor soil or needs land regeneration.
Why is bamboo better than trees?
There are four main topics which explain why growing bamboo is suitable for replacing wooden products:
- Bamboo grows much faster than trees, making it a more sustainable resource for products such as packaging.
- Bamboo requires far less water and fertiliser than trees, making it a more environmentally friendly option.
- Bamboo produces far more biomass per acre of land than trees, making it a more efficient option for capturing and storing atmospheric carbon dioxide.
- Bamboo has been shown to absorb more carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere than trees. This is because bamboo grows much faster than trees, allowing it to absorb more CO2. Additionally, the large amount of biomass produced by bamboo forests helps to store carbon, further reducing the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere.
Why is bamboo great for poor soil and land regeneration?
Bamboo has impressive root systems that can burrow deeply and grab nutrients in places where other plants would have trouble growing. These roots help to hold the soil together, with one bamboo plant capable of securing six cubic metres of dirt. This can also stop the earth from being washed away, causing soil erosion.
Suppose you have land that has neutral to acidic soil. Bamboo is an excellent alternative to other more intensive crops which need fertilisation. You can naturally replenish the ground and support the bamboo industry boom.
Bamboo has the usual pests, such as mites, aphids and ants, and is also prone to fungus, which can kill it, so no matter where the plant is grown, you need to watch out for these issues.
Who is farming Bamboo in Europe?
Bamboo is farmed by a diverse range of individuals and organisations in Europe. Some small-scale farmers cultivate bamboo for personal use or sale to local markets. More giant agribusinesses develop it commercially for various products, including packaging. Bamboo is also grown by organisations specialising in sustainable agriculture and forestry, focusing on preserving the environment and promoting sustainable practices.
Some European countries with established bamboo farming industries include France, Spain, Italy, and Portugal. Bamboo farming is a rapidly growing industry in Europe, and new farms are continually being established.
Three companies stand out as innovators in their field in trying to grow and supply bamboo to the European market.
Bamboo Logic is based in the Netherlands. But they have nurseries in Belgium, PBambool and Galicia. They state that they are the first European Bamboo grower focused exclusively on the European market. I love that they list which of the United Nations initiatives they directly contribute to. Once you have read these, you can't help but feel inspired.
Only Moso is a significant bamboo grower based in Florida and has affiliations with many mid-sized bamboo farms. Their primary operations are in Italy, where they began growing bamboo in 2014, Romania in 2015, and the United States in 2016. They are currently engaged in farming activities in Spain, France, and Portugal.
Forever Bambu in Italy has been carefully developing a bamboo-based supply chain. As they state on their website Forever Bambù is the first Italian initiative that combines a structured supply chain with attention to the planet and the territories through the cultivation of Giant Bamboo.
It has become the biggest bamboo farm in Europe, covering thousands of hectares across the country. Their business model emphasizes the growth of bamboo in an eco-friendly environment that respects the existing ecosystem. Moreover, Forever Bambu has been researching Bamboo's capacity to create bioplastics and its capability as a carbon sink.
Why don't we use bamboo for everything?
Bamboo's a highly sustainable resource with numerous environmental benefits, but we still import much of it from China. According to the Only Moso website, there are over 1500 products made from bamboo.
But despite its many benefits, bamboo is yet to be used for everything because it is not always the most practical or cost-effective option for specific applications. For example, bamboo is less strong than other materials like steel, making it less suitable for particular construction or engineering projects.
Additionally, processing bamboo into products such as packaging can be time-consuming and expensive, making it less practical for specific applications. As technology and innovation continue to advance, bamboo will likely be increasingly used in a broader range of products and applications.
Bamboo has been around for ages and used for various purposes, from creating homes to crafting cooking tools. It can even be served up as a yummy treat! In recent years, it has gained increasing popularity in Europe, primarily because of its many eco-friendly advantages.
Supporting Bamboo companies and products is where the environmental benefit lies for Europe and the Earth.
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