Bamboo’ which is also known as ‘Green Gold’ in Asian Culture is well known plant all over the world, particularly in Asian and African countries. It is one of the most important nature’s substitutes for the endangered rainforest hardwoods. It is a quick-growing, versatile, non-timber forest product whose rate of biomass generation is unsurpassed by any other plants.
From household items to the entire house, bamboo products are nothing new to society. It is utilized extensively for a wide range of purposes. The strength of the culms, their straightness, smoothness, lightness combined with hardness and greater hollowness; the facility and regularity with which they can be split; the different sizes, various lengths and thickness of their joints make them suitable for numerous end products/purposes. Ancient civilizations were using bamboo for building long before they were using other materials and this trend has faded slightly over the centuries, but is now making a comeback in parts of the world, becoming a popular resource.
The versatility of bamboo outmatches most tree species. It is known to be a natural and excellent raw material for manufacturing strong and sturdy furniture, handicrafts, and novelty items. Some species are edible while most are not; some can be used as structural timber while others only serve for ornamental use or pulp. No other plant material can rival the utility of bamboo.
Bamboo has been used for era for many applications, from a food source to a building material. But with the age of modern materials, many people don’t understand the scope of uses for bamboo. The shoots can be picked early for eating, and the wood of older canes can be treated and used as anything from decoration to instruments. Even in the early years, Thomas Edison successfully used a carbonized bamboo filament in his experiment with the first light bulb. He also used a bamboo as rebar for the reinforcement of his swimming pool. Similarly, Alexander Graham Bell made use of bamboo for his first phonograph needle. To this day, an innumerable application of bamboo can be thought of.
Fortunately, many manufacturers have seen all the products that can be made from this highly renewable resource and have begun to utilize bamboo in some fascinating ways. Bamboo has been made into numerous products. From raw products like bamboo charcoal or edible bamboo shoots, to finished pieces like furniture and instruments, there are many kinds of bamboo products. Whether they are made of raw or treated bamboo, they all seem to be used with more frequency now that we are re-discovering the versatility of the products.
Since bamboo is the fastest growing plant on earth and a sustainable building material, it could easily substitute all known wood applications without having to cut down entire bamboo groves or plantations. Bamboo started out as a natural plant in most places, but has become a large part of agriculture. From being the main crop of a farm to be harvested for other uses, or as the channel linings for irrigation systems, bamboo fits naturally into agriculture. Cooking with bamboo is nothing new in Asian culture. Bamboo shoots are a common food in that part of the world, and have also migrated into cooking utensils. Not to mention the traditional use of bamboo in the daily life of the early people especially in Asia, bamboo can also be colored so that it can fit into any furnishings. Bamboo panels, especially floors, are more and more in demand all over the world, because they have the texture of marble and the elegance of wood; in addition, they are strong, durable, smooth, clean, non-sliding and resistant to humidity. From picture frames to room dividing screens, bamboo can make some elegant and exotic decorations for the home. From blow guns to archery bows and arrows, bamboo made light but strong weapons for many centuries. Hollow tubes make excellent instruments, whether it is a flute or a drum, and bamboo is one of the best bases for instruments. The light, durable quality of the bamboo is coupled with its musical potential, and creates some of the most beautiful sounds that music has ever heard. Of course, these aren’t all the uses for bamboo. There are many other types of products that can be made of bamboo, and all are coming back into their own as bamboo continues to grow more popular in the main stream economy. A fabulous trend right now is bamboo fibers being used in fabrics and clothing. Bedding made of bamboo fibers is as soft as or softer than most cotton beddings, and drapes with the look of silk without the expense. It is becoming a mainstream trend to have bamboo fabric products or clothing, populating many major chain retail stores.
Increase knowledge and research on the production and utilization of bamboo continue to create economic impact and emergence of new industries and products. Other than its traditional use for handicrafts and novelty items, new engineered applications which include lumber, veneer, strand and particle boards, plywood and other laminates, and emergent technologies of high strength bio-composites have been developed. It is true though, from edible bamboo shoots to construction, medicine, bamboo fabric or bio-fuel it is all been done before. The challenges we face today are to further innovate and improve the uses of bamboo. The bamboo products we see on the market today are just the tip of the iceberg, more and more innovative bamboo applications will enter the consumer markets rapidly.