Bamboo is often referred to as one of the most sustainably friendly materials currently available on the market, but what does that really mean? The bamboo toothbrush is deemed as the best eco alternative to the traditional plastic toothbrush since it has many benefits which help the planet as well as our health. Check out our recent post about the 10 benefits of the bamboo toothbrush. In this post, we are going to have a loot at the raw material behind the booboo toothbrush; bamboo and delve into the 7 ways bamboo is good for the environment.
1. Bamboo is a super plant
Bamboo is labelled the “world’s most renewable material” and “the world’s fastest-growing plant” since it shoots up at incomparable rates. Some studies have shown that it can grow up to 1.2m in a single day, this creaks down to 4cm per hour! Some people claim they can see it growing. Interestingly, the growth the bamboo experiences is elongation of the entire plant. The bamboos root system guides water into the small “cone” at the base of the clump of bamboo, which inflates and the walls experience expansion. If there is a large amount of water entering from the bottom, the whole bamboo plant can shoot up like a slinky. Originally compressed, but with additional water in the system, stretching out in height.
2. Bamboo Requires Minimal Water
While bamboo sucks up water in order to grow at its astonishing rate, it still requires far less water than many other plant alternatives. If you compare bamboo to plastic or even a natural material such as cotton, it requires significantly less water to produce anywhere near a similar mass of material. While baby bamboo plants require regular watering, once they become established, they need minimal attention and will not die if un watered. Their growth rate will simply decrease.
3. Bamboo requires no pesticides
Pesticides have been closely linked with the dangerous decline of bee populations which we have been seeing across the world since the 1970s. In the United States, some bee keeps are losing up to 50% of their bees, while wild populations are experiencing 30% decreases, as well as migrations to stay away from the rising temperatures near the equator. Along with bees, pesticides also impact the surrounding environment by unbalancing the nutrient percentages in the soil, leaching into waterways, killing other native species of insects, and ending up in the food at our supermarkets. Pesticides have been found to be linked to various health side effects, including skin or eye irritation for people who come into direct contact with them, or more seriously, severe infections to the nervous system or hormones. Studies have shown that there is an urgent need for restructuring the current agricultural model to move away from pesticides, as the health and environmental impacts are significant.
4. Bamboo spreads like wildlife
Since it is technically a fast-growing grass rather than a tree, it does not only require any pesticides or fertiliser, but it can self-regenerate from its own roots after being harvested. The fact it does not need to be replanted means it minimises the amount of water, and labour to continue its growth. New shoots appear from the roots every year and reach a size where they are ready to harvest within four to five years.
If you have ever had bamboo in your garden, you would have noticed how easily the clumps spread and slowly, yet fast in the world of plants, they can take over your entire garden. Removing bamboo from the property is a more challenging job than planting it, but this does mean that once a bamboo plantation is established, it can provide materials for bamboo toothbrushes for many years to come with minimal effort from farmers.
5. Bamboo absorbs Greenhouse Gases
Just like any other plant, during its growth, it absorbs greenhouse gases which are contributing to man-made climate change. During photosynthesis, bamboo will absorb carbon dioxide and releases 35% more oxygen into the atmosphere when compared to hardwood trees. It has been demonstrated that bamboo can absorb as much as 12 tonnes of carbon dioxide per hectare every year. This was found in studies both in Mexico and China.
6. Minimal Waste
Another benefit of the bamboo plant is after harvesting very little of the plant is wasted. This is because every part can be used for a variety of products including furniture, chopsticks, and even bamboo toothbrushes. What is leftover, can then be converted in soil-enriching mulch and put back onto the earth to cycle vital nutrients back into the soil.
7. Bamboo Minimises Topsoil Loss
You might have possibly read that we have lost 50% of the fertile topsoil in the last 150 years due to poor agricultural practises, deforestation, and the excessive use of chemical pesticides and herbicides. Luckily, bamboo can help in this vital worldwide issue as well. As forests and trees are cut down to make room for growing crops, the soil beneath loses its structure that was held together by the deep and complex network of roots. Without these roots holding the earth together, erosion occurs at alarming rates causing soil and vital nutrients to be washed away by rainfall. In more serious circumstances, landslides, and floods can occur. This eroded soil then flows into rivers, clogging up river beds, covering natural habitats, and endangering the lives of people and animals which live downstream. Bamboo and its fast-growing root systems can help by creating green fence-like barriers after harvesting on land to minimise erosion and aid in retaining nutrients.
8. Bamboo is extremely versatile
Bamboo is not only used for the bamboo toothbrush, and it’s versatility as a material means it can replace many items in our day to day lives. Everything from paper, flooring, furniture, charcoal, building materials, clothing, and more can be created out of bamboo. Bamboo fibres have the additional benefit of being stronger than wood fibres along with being flexible, meaning it can withstand changes in atmospheric conditions and last many years.
9. Bamboo Creates Jobs
One of the facts we often do not think about when considering the environmental impacts of farming, is the impacts on the local communities. Bamboo plantations and products create a demand for jobs in a sustainable field, meaning people can work in safe conditions without damaging the environment. In less developed countries where bamboo plants are primarily grown, the demand for bamboo creates jobs that provide social and economic stability.
10. Bamboo can grow anywhere
Bamboo is an extremely hardy plant that can grow in both arid regions which suffer from frequent droughts which would cause other plants to die. Since the bamboo’s roots remain in the soil after harvesting, it helps retain moisture in arid conditions and eliminates the need of regrowing from nothing every four to five years. Bamboo can also thrive heavily forested, wet areas of the planet along with high elevation regions in the mountains.
11. Bamboo is biodegradable
The number one reason people say to switch to the bamboo toothbrush is because the plastic alternative remains in the landfill or ocean for around 400 years before it begins to break down. Bamboo, since it is a fully natural resource, can biodegrade and revert into simple particles in the soil when thrown into the compost. Replacing your plastic toothbrush with bamboo can, therefore, minimise the waste you create, along with being a welcome addition to your gardens compost.
These are just the top 11 reasons why choosing bamboo products is better for the environment than plastic alternatives. There of course is a question of ethical and sustainable bamboo farming, however we will get into that in another blog post.