Bamboo is one of the most versatile resources available, offering a high-quality alternative to many materials that have traditionally been more familiar to consumers. It is also a resource that is poised to do tremendous good for the world in an era of severe ecological degradation and escalating threats from global warming, wherein more and more consumers are developing a deeply-rooted environmental conscience and bringing it to bear on their buying decisions. Bamboo represents the best that a green lifestyle has to offer: its products bringing beauty and luxury into a person’s life along with confidence that he or she is supporting the resources and industry that will help to build a more sustainable, greener world that will persist long into the future.
Bamboo has a rich history in Asia, where it has been used for centuries as a major building material, as well as being used in the construction of furniture and other items. In China, the very first papers were made out of bamboo pulp, and similar processes still make a thick grade of paper today, for traditional uses or for arts and crafts. Bamboo has a long history of culinary and medicinal applications. Its shoots are a low-calorie food that is rich in sugars and various essential minerals, and they can be cooked or eaten raw. Other elements of the plant are utilized in the ancient Indian medicinal practice, Aryuveda. Modern techniques have allowed manufacturers to derive viscose from bamboo in order to create clothing with softness comparable to cashmere. The resource as a whole is gaining increasing popularity in the West, though its versatility and quality remains underappreciated, and there is still room for much greater demand to promote its growth and harvest in new markets.
With over 1,400 different species, bamboo grows naturally throughout the world, both in tropical and temperate climates. There are three identified species that are indigenous to North America, and though the plant as a whole is far more common in Asia, there are identified regions in the United States and elsewhere that could accommodate large-scale bamboo forestry. Many species are hardy enough to grow in cold weather, so there are very few limitations on where the crop can be established. Bamboo propagates quickly because of its rhizome root system, but it is an ideal agroforestry crop, capable of occupying the same land that is devoted to other crops that do not grow in such dense arrangement.
Comparing to a stand of trees the same size as one of bamboo, the bamboo releases 35% more oxygen into the atmosphere. A necessary aspect of any effort at curtailing global warming is to encourage the preservation of every aspect of the natural environment that constitutes a natural defense against escalating quantities of carbon dioxide, and bamboo is the best example of this.
With bamboo, the consumer secures the dual benefit of buying an excellent product and supporting a stable ecosystem.
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