Bamboo: Building Houses and More

bamboo stems

Are you looking for space-age renewable materials to battle climate change? You’re better off using bamboo. While it isn’t space-age, bamboo is structurally sound enough to build massive bridges, with sustainability that is right there at the top. It is organic, with thousands of functions that you might not be aware of.

Building with Bamboo

While it might not be widespread in the West, bamboo is a traditional building material in Asia. Bamboo houses provide shelter and security to more than 1 billion people. It might not seem like your typical building material. However, pound-for-pound, it is superior to steel when it comes to tensile strength. Bamboo bridges capable of supporting 16-ton trucks have been built in China — a testament to the structural integrity of bamboo. For a seemingly small piece of wood, it is extremely fire resistant. It can withstand up to 4,000 °F. Some use torches to bend and shape bamboo without damaging the material. A bamboo plant is flexible and elastic — characteristics that give it a resilience that has been immortalized in Asian proverbs. These traits are passed on to bamboo structures, allowing them to withstand earthquakes and typhoons that are quite common in Asia.

Bamboo in Your Home

bamboo blinds

Aside from the usual furniture, you can find many uses for bamboo in your home. The bamboo textile can be used to make clothing, towels, blankets, and bedsheets. Bamboo sheets are often compared to Egyptian cotton, with most people unable to distinguish between the two or preferring bamboo sheets over cotton. If you’re a techie, you can find bamboo devices like computer mouses, keyboards, laptops, headphones, speakers, and even iPhone casings. Music lovers can encounter various bamboo instruments from the simple flutes to massive pipe organs. Caring for a baby in the house? You can use bamboo napkins and baby wipes. Bamboo has natural anti-bacterial properties and is hypoallergenic. Reusable bamboo baby diapers can reduce the 20 billion diapers going into landfills each year. Bamboo diapers are comfortable, breathable, hypoallergenic, and they retain their anti-bacterial properties for up to 50 washes.

Sustainability at Its Peak

Bamboo isn’t a tree; it’s a type of grass. Like grass, bamboo grows extremely fast. It only takes 3-5 years for bamboo to grow enough in size and length to be harvested. Because it is a grass, it requires very little water or fertilizer, and it is incredibly hardy. Unlike trees, bamboo needs very little space. While trees require 20 feet of space between each tree, bamboo requires only five. An acre of land which can grow 200 trees can grow multiple plantings of 800 bamboo trees. This denser allocation enables bamboo to produce 30 percent more oxygen than trees in relation to space. You don’t even need to plant bamboo continuously. Even if you cut bamboo close to the ground, as long as the roots remain undamaged, a new shoot will eventually emerge in a couple of days.

Bamboo is a wondrous material in terms of strength and stability, versatility, and sustainability. It is literally and figuratively the greenest building material you can use.

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