In a world where the environment is always put at risk, it is becoming increasingly critical to many to be as eco-friendly as possible. This strategy means investing in sustainable furniture items. Bamboo furniture has emerged as one of the top choices in a world bent on saving the planet. Is it a sustainable option that is better for the world?
For the most part, bamboo is a sustainable option. However, like everything on this planet, some things make this material less sustainable. But when compared to other items, furniture made of this product is more sustainable than most of its competitors.
Read on to learn about what makes bamboo furniture so sustainable. This article will also discuss what takes away from its sustainability. It is crucial to have a complete understanding of a product before making a conclusion solely based on its rising popularity.
Is Bamboo Furniture Sustainable?
Right away, it is worth defining what makes bamboo, and by extension, bamboo furniture sustainable. It may be hard to understand why this unique plant serves as a furniture material that benefits the environment. However, if you examine it a little closer, there are many reasons that it is one of the most sustainable materials for furniture out there.
Keep on reading to learn about what, exactly, makes the material sustainable. There are a lot of great reasons to invest in this plant base for your furniture. It is one of the best out there if you are on the hunt for something more eco-friendly than the traditional wooden pieces.
Bamboo Grows Incredibly Fast
Bamboo is a plant that can grow incredibly fast. Rather than laying in wait for years at a time, this plant pushes itself throughout the solid ground and thrives. This speed means that it can be replaced and regrown almost as fast as it goes away. Trees cannot come back this fast or be harvested at this speed. It takes them much, much longer to grow.
This short growth time means:
- More furniture is produced without destroying the plant life before it can grow back
- The planting and gathering of resources process can happen much faster than with other natural materials
- Bamboo can be plentiful while still being used at a frequent rate
The planet needs trees for resources, but they do not grow very fast. This dilemma means that production slows down, or other trees are chopped down faster than they are regrown. This give and take is not the case with bamboo, making the plant better for sustainable furniture than its traditional wooden counterpart.
The fast growth time may also prevent trees from being cut down. If more people switch to bamboo, trees may have a shot at growing back and recovering. This regrowth would mean a new world for the people that will inhabit the land after us. Diverse plant life will one day have the opportunity to make a reappearance.
Bamboo is Water Efficient
Bamboo is a highly water efficient plant. When it absorbs water, it takes it in as far as possible within its core. Not a single drop goes to waste. It also has a hard outer shell, making it durable and strong no matter what comes its way. For farmers, this means:
- Less irrigation is needed for the crops, so less land falls apart thanks to the roots
- Fewer pesticides are required since the bamboo is strong
- Moderate soil monitoring must happen since bamboo has intricate roots
Less care for the bamboo means less use of natural resources, and less destruction in the process of growing. Bamboo furniture, after all is said and done, uses a lot less energy and materials in its creation than a standard wooden piece does. It produces less waste in both growing and processing.
Having a plant that takes care of itself is better on the land and better on the people. Bamboo is a material that is like no other used to make furniture and other home decor pieces. It will help the planet and the people inhabiting it to support itself for a long time coming.
Bamboo Makes More Durable Furniture
Bamboo is one of the toughest materials that is used in construction. In some cases, it can even be stronger than steel. For those investing in furniture, this is great. The fact that bamboo is powerful means that:
- The furniture created will last much longer due to its hard outer shell and intricate insides
- It can handle a heavy load, so it is more versatile than other materials
- It can sustain more damage in harsher conditions
This strength also makes bamboo furniture sustainable. It is not thrown away or tossed to the side as fast, so it stays out of landfills. Less of it is needed to be purchased, so less energy goes into its production. Bamboo furniture is truly a win for the environment and sustainability.
Durability also ensures that a piece can stay in a family for a long time. You might even be able to pass down bamboo furniture to future generations, which makes it even more sustainable. If it has not been tampered with too much, it can eventually return to the ground that it came from.
Harvesting and Processing Bamboo Uses Less Energy
With bamboo furniture, the bamboo is often minimally processed. That means that it just needs to be cut down, cleaned, and shaved into proper shapes and sizes for the furniture pieces. On the other hand, wood often needs to be cut, smoothed, polished and pressed before being sold and turned into furniture.
The less processing a material requires, the less natural resources and toxic gases materialize. Our world can hang on to extra water and fossil fuels while the air avoids unnecessary pollutants that it does not need to add to the toxins already filling the skies.
Bamboo Efficiently Uses Space
When bamboo is grown, it makes efficient use of the space that it is planted in. This spacing is a big difference compared to trees, which need a wide area of emptiness around them to grow effectively.
Bamboo makes efficient use of the space it is planted in because:
- It can regrow another shoot from the stalk that gets cut down
- Each plant can be positioned close to another
- Many more plants can be grown in a small area and regrown just as fast
Trees take up more space, and when they go away, they cannot regrow from the same stump. Bamboo can and can also compress to fit inside a small area. This spacing means less energy is required for bamboo furniture to come into existence, making it sustainable compared to other materials used for furniture.
By efficiently using the space, other crops can also be grown near bamboo. A farmer can maximize the space and grow many abundant plants that will sustain the future.
What Makes Bamboo Furniture Unsustainable?
Now that you know what makes bamboo furniture sustainable, you might wonder if any traits make it unsustainable. The answer is yes—there are some things about bamboo and the furniture it makes that make it unsustainable.
We will go over these items here to give you a fuller picture of bamboo as a sustainable material. Again, knowing what you are going into is a great way to conclude for yourself. Keep reading to learn some of the items that make bamboo unsustainable.
Bamboo Leaves a Huge Carbon Footprint
Bamboo is sustainable once it is made into the furniture. It is sustainable when grown. What about the moving process? Since most of our bamboo crops are grown in China, they must be transported all around the world using some giant method of transportation.
Bamboo is typically transported over the ocean in one of two ways:
- By a plane
- By a boat
It does not matter which way it is. It still leaves a massive carbon footprint as the materials are shipped thousands of miles over the ocean. Whatever energy is saved during growing and gathering is destroyed in the journey across the sea.
The carbon footprint could decrease if other countries jumped in on the bamboo idea. The closer bamboo is to home, the less shipping will occur. The less distance shipping is required, the smaller the carbon footprint and the detrimental impact on ecosystems.
Bamboo Can Destroy Other Ecosystems
Thanks to the demand in popularity, bamboo is being grown in more and more locations. For farmers, this means making room. Many ecosystems that once thrived are being ripped out of the ground to make room for this new crop.
Destruction of ecosystems means:
- A reduction of places that certain animals can live
- The destruction of a crop that once thrived
- The extinction of an area’s unique ecosystem
The bamboo itself does not damage the area. However, the way that farmers often clear the way for the product does. The farming and growing of bamboo could harm the environment and make it less able to produce for future generations.
Bamboo Is Often Held Together by Glue
If bamboo furniture was held together by something like string, it would be easier to ignore the material. However, bamboo furniture is often held together by glue. The production of this is vastly different from the production of bamboo, which is grown naturally.
Not only does the production of this glue hurt the environment, but it also prevents the bamboo furniture from being recycled if the time comes to do so. You can help to stop this item from being used by:
- Investing in bamboo furniture that is tied together rather than glued
- Searching for bamboo furniture brands that strive to be eco-friendly
- Creating your own bamboo furniture
Using glue in the creation of bamboo furniture is detrimental to the sustainability that is tried to be achieved by using this material. Try not to get a variety of decor that is held together by anything other than a thick cord or more bamboo.
Is Using Bamboo Bad for the Environment?
After discussing all of these items about bamboo that takes away from its sustainability, you might wonder if bamboo is bad for the environment. While there are things about it that take away from the environment, there are good things bamboo does too.
Bamboo is a crop that is great for the environment. This material:
- Lowers the light intensity of the sun and its rays
- Reduce carbon dioxide and produce more oxygen
- Can be harvested and regrow without hurting the area it grows in
- Are chopped down and reappear rather quickly
Bamboo is not bad for the environment as a plant by itself. With the interference of people, forests are cut down and bamboo is placed in areas it should not be. This is not good for the environment.
Any plant that is grown in the field of another dying one is bad for the environment. In the case of bamboo, entire species are chopped down due to the demand for the item. Right now that is mostly just in China. However, it could eventually be the rest of the world as well.
Are There More Sustainable Materials?
After going through all that makes up bamboo furniture, you might wonder if other materials might be more sustainable. The answer is yes, but very few materials that come straight from the source are as sustainable.
We will touch on a few of the materials that are more sustainable than bamboo for furniture. You might look into these on top of bamboo if you desire to be as sustainable as possible. These are all closer to home and will generally use less energy than bamboo does.
Upcycling furniture is perhaps the best option besides bamboo. This process consists of taking furniture that already exists and performing a bit of work to make it into something new. This can be done with any type of material, from wood to metal.
Examples of upcycling include:
- Reupholstering a sofa to make it look brand-new
- Adding paint and new knobs to a dresser
- Replacing the doors on a desk
Upcycling is more sustainable than bamboo furniture will ever be because it makes old things new. There is typically zero to little waste, and no energy is needed to produce the new item. You end up with new furniture and leave virtually no footprint. Bamboo, one of the most sustainable materials on the planet, cannot compete with that.
If you are not sure where to start with your upcycling process, you can search for inspiration online or in craft stores. There are lots of good ideas out there. If you can, sustaining your furniture is always a better option for sustainability than investing in brand-new bamboo furniture.
Finding furniture that is made from recycled materials is more sustainable than the use of bamboo. Often, you can find recycled furniture that comes in any material from plastic to metal. They are composed of materials that have been turned into a recycling center and taken apart to be utilized again.
You can locate furniture made of recycled materials:
- By finding an online eco-friendly company
- By searching your local furniture store
- By looking on an online forum used by those who look for sustainable options
Using furniture made from recycled materials is more sustainable than bamboo because it makes use of old materials. It does not add more to the world, it takes what exists and makes it into something new.
Of course, in some ways, recycled material can be less sustainable. If the production or shipment of the furniture uses fossil fuels, it is about the same as bamboo.
Locally Sourced Materials
Even if a material is not sustainable if it is factory-produced, homemade furniture pieces that are created close to home are very sustainable. There are no or very few fossil fuels used in production. They do not need to travel large distances to reach the consumers. Often, artisans hand-craft a piece for a specific client.
You can look for furniture that comes from a local source by:
- Roaming through a farmer’s market
- Scouring the internet for local creators
- Asking friends where they found their furniture
By finding an artisan, you will be supporting your community and keeping the building process local. This method is more sustainable than bamboo because the products do not need to be shipped across the country, and there is less of a need for mass crop production. Keeping it small is better all around.
Bamboo furniture is one of the best pieces on the market. It also happens to be one of the most sustainable. By using sturdy materials made from this plant, a simple chair can last a lifetime.
Bamboo is incredibly sustainable. If you are trying to save the environment, buying furniture made from this item is your best bet. Do not be afraid of hurting the earth due to this choice. It is a solid option in the world of sustainability, along with several others.