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Beautiful Bamboo Bounty

Beautiful Bamboo Bounty

What was used for the filament in Thomas Edison’s first light bulb? It is the same material used to build homes for 1 billion people across the world and is also used for everything from fishing traps to fences, papermaking to food. Here’s a hint: It is the supple darling of eco-friendly decor. If you guessed bamboo—bingo! Read on for more about this engrossing grass and see some of our favorite bamboo gifts including towels, sheets, kitchenware and even a bicycle.

The Wonders of Bamboo
Bamboo is a member of the grass family and is so extensively used across the world that future historians might just designate this era as the Bamboo Age. It is used for beds, mats, flooring, fences, fishing traps, baskets, eating utensils, food containers and food itself (shoots are eaten fresh, dried, pickled and fermented). Bamboo is used for musical instruments, papermaking, furniture making, and as a construction material. What a grass!

Because of bamboo’s incredible, stronger-than-steel tensile strength, it is even used to make simple pontoon bridges and higher tech suspension bridges—bamboo is the material of choice for scaffolding construction throughout Asia, even for scaffolding employed in the construction of skyscrapers in Hong Kong and Tokyo.

A Really Green Grass
Bamboo is a high-yield renewable natural resource. It is the fastest growing woody plant on the planet—some species grow as much as one meter per day. They say you can watch it grow (if one were so inclined). Cutting bamboo does not result in the death of the plant; its extensive root system remains intact, simply sending up new shoots to replace the old ones. And consider this, a 60-foot timber tree takes 60 years to replenish, a 60-foot bamboo takes only 60 days.

However…
Since bamboo doesn’t fall under the guidelines of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), there is no guarantee that planting or working conditions are adequate nor is there any regulation of biocide use. The good news is that there is growing interest in providing certification, and until then there are numerous vendors who make a concerted effort to source bamboo from plantations that practice healthy planting and harvest procedures—it is important to check with the supplier to see if their bamboo comes from well-managed plantations.

Bamboo Towels
Bamboo towels are nothing short of a miracle against the skin—they are like thick, slinky velvet and a delight to wrap yourself in post-bath…or anytime, really. And (although we could have told you this) according to Consumer Reports tests, cotton-bamboo blend towels are about 25 percent softer after laundering, on average, than their all-cotton counterparts. Cellulose from bamboo is converted into rayon fibers, and it’s that resulting fiber that makes for these sexy towels. Shopping tips: Bamboo towels are more expensive than their cotton cousins; thicker bamboo towels are generally more absorbent than the thinner ones.

Land’s End Cotton/Bamboo Bath Towels

Mad Mod’s Bamboo Comfort 100 percent Bamboo Bath Set

CB2 65 percent bamboo/34 percent cotton Bamboo Towels

Bamboo Sheets
Read about bamboo sheets including links to where to buy them.

Bamboo Bowls
Wound bamboo is a very old craft in which thin, compressed bamboo strips are soaked in water and then coiled outward from the center to create a spiral resulting in a plate or bowl.

Lovely lacquerware bowls are hand-coiled, shaped and finished with 18 layers of natural lacquer: Durable and waterproof, food-safe finish. Suitable for both hot and cold foods.

You can’t do better than this set of four jungle green bamboo bowls from The Rain Forest Site store, which will preserve 2290 square feet of land for each set of four Jungle Bamboo Bowls purchased.

Bamboo Bicycles
Wow. This company is trading in the high-tech carbon for bamboo with the frames of these award-winning bamboo bikes. The price tag makes them out of reach for the casual biker, but they are so greatly green and worth a little look-see!

Read more: Crafts & Design, Bed & Bath, Green Home Decor

By Melissa Breyer, Producer, Care2 Green Living

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Melissa Breyer

Melissa Breyer is a writer and editor with a background in sustainable living, specializing in food, science and design. She is the co-author of True Food (National Geographic) and has edited and written for regional and international books and periodicals, including The New York Times Magazine. Melissa lives in Brooklyn, NY.

19 comments

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5:31AM PDT on Oct 21, 2011

Bamboo is a natural fabric that is more breathable and thermal regulating than cotton, hemp, wool or synthetic fabrics. In warm, humid and sweaty weather, bamboo clothing keeps the wearer drier, cooler and more comfortable and doesn’t stick to the skin.

The processes where the plant is transformed into fabric are where the bamboo loses its environmentally friendly status. It is often called bamboo rayon because of the similar heavy chemicals, some of which are toxic, that are used. Very little bamboo clothing would qualify as sustainable or organic. Look for certification.

6:53AM PDT on Aug 22, 2011

Bamboo plants look lovely always. i think they remind you of sugarcane also.

11:02PM PDT on Aug 21, 2011

Bamboo is wonderful! Thanks for sharing!

10:52AM PDT on Aug 21, 2011

Target now sells bamboo/rayon socks - and they're wonderful! Long lasting, soft and very comfortable.

10:51AM PDT on Aug 21, 2011

Target now sells bambooo/rayon socks - and they're wonderful! Long lasting, soft and very comfortable.

8:19PM PST on Nov 23, 2010

i wanna try the bamboo towels.

5:00AM PDT on Sep 7, 2010

I love Bamboo! We need more great articles such as this TYVM:-)

1:59AM PDT on Aug 8, 2010

thanks, melissa. very informative!

5:04PM PDT on Apr 23, 2010

Bamboo, as a renewable source is great!! However to break down the "tough-as-steel" plant into a fiber you would want next to your skin, is a whole other issue. It takes seriously harsh chemicals to break it down, plus the run-off from these factories contaminates the water supply for miles around......

11:55AM PST on Mar 7, 2010

Thanks for adding links to where we can purchase some of these items!

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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