The Bamboo Delima

Bamboo is starting to get more publicity as a green alternative to many things, cotton, flooring, and so on. Its been showing up in clothing, sheets, towels, and even some strange things like laptops and a microsope. The main reason its being touted as ‘green’ is its rapid regrowth. A soft would tree takes anywhere between 10-20 years before it can be harvested, bamboo on the other hand takes only 3-5 years. However there is still the issue of importing it from China, the manufacturing process and for some items sustainability.

Importing~There is some debate about this area. Apartment Therapy says “The shipping alone can negate any carbon savings you were hoping to get. When looking at flooring sometimes a locally and sustainably harvested hard wood has a less negative impact on the environment than bamboo.” But PlanetGreen.com disagrees saying “Not necessarily so. Transport by ship is very fuel efficient; trucking wood any distance could burn a lot more fuel.”  (See this artical for both quotes.)

So as always that one ends in-unsure.

Manufacturing~From what I’ve read most business that manufacture bamboo products do not use green methods. A lot of water is wasted and a lot of chemicals used throughout the process. There are some companies who use greener methods of manufacturing. For flooring specifically here are the top 5 as ranked by Planetgreen.com.

I guess this one ends with -depends

Sustainability~The sustainability of bamboo as flooring is still debatable. However that being said it is growing in popularity so there should be some more definitive tests soon. From personal experience I’ve been quite happy with my bamboo sheets and towels. They have held up just fine if not better than some of their cotton counterparts. In fact the towels seem to be holding up better, they are still so soft, almost 18 months later.

So the same as the last one- depends

So I guess this all just comes down to a judgment call. I like the bamboo products I have but I’m not sure how much greener they are. What do you have to say about the subject?

9 comments on “The Bamboo Delima

  1. I don’t go out of my way to buy bamboo products because they are ‘greener’. I think there are greener products available to us – made in the US out of sustainable products; woods, fabrics etc, finished with non-toxic materials, or not finished at all etc. Heck, buying used, even if part of it is plastic is probably ‘greener’!

    I do go out of my way though to avoid bamboo in things like diapers as I am not so sure about it being near his most sensitive parts, there is some conflicting information on whether the fabric and its manufacturing process is related to certain illnesses and diseases.

  2. I did a post a while ago about bamboo flooring. The plus is that it is fast growing and a quick renewable resource.
    I also have a giveaway going on if you would like to enter
    Visiting from Justsewsassy

  3. okay. didn’t know about this bamboo debate. i don’t think anything in my household is made with it. i agree with Zaira though, if you can buy “used” then shipping and manufacturing issues are moot. we do alot of thrifting in our house.

  4. When my son was in diapers I used diapers lined with OBV (organic bamboo velour) and it was just about the only fabric that didn’t cause a build up of detergents or cause a rash. and it really does say pretty soft for the longest time.

    So it definitely has its uses, and I do think the fact that it grows so quickly is a positive.

  5. Huh, I guess I must be living in the dark…. I never knew that bamboo can be made into so many products let alone is a “green” material! I do agree that the cost of shipping would probably negate the whole green effect if it’s going to cost that much to send. Plus, all the scandals with the way that Chinese factories manufacture things these days (assuming you are getting them from China), I have a feeling that they aren’t as “green” as you think they are. I think it’s better to stick to what’s local and reusable since it would cost less and you’d also be supporting local communities, right?

  6. Interesting. I think bamboo is one topic that will be up for discussion for awhile, especially with it growing in popularity.

    I have a set of bamboo dish towels and love them, most absorbent towels I’ve ever had. I do believe that the tag that came with mine said they were biodegradable. If that’s the case..another argument towards the green side of things. When they are too old and nasty to be used as towels or rags, it appears they will at at least bio-degrade so they don’t live in landfills forever. (Of course..I haven’t not looked into this..just going by what the tag said)

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