What is all this fuss about being green? If your social conscience is pricking and you want to feel virtuously green, have you thought of utilizing bamboo? You can build a shed with it, eat it, sleep in it, walk on it, wear it, or grow it as a tree or bush to make more oxygen for the planet! Now that is being green!
Bamboo is so fast growing it could be the most ‘sustainable’ and natural commodity on the planet! On the question of it being replaceable, well some bamboos can grow as much as one meter in one day which is 1.5-2.0 inches per hour (under special accelerated conditions).
Even under natural growth conditions, a large full-sized bamboo tree could grow in six years, as opposed to sixty years for an average North American tree. This is a very high yield; in fact bamboo has been labeled the fastest growing renewable resource on the planet.
With all this growth, bamboo can be exploited without guilt, but in the West we have not, so far, found many uses for bamboo. All this is changing with the onset of the green outlook; in Asia, bamboo has been used for almost everything.
For centuries, Asians have used bamboo to make houses, to form single span bridges and to build scaffolding for high rise buildings; they have been making hard wood-effect floors with it, making towels and sheets with it, eating from it and even eating it (bamboo shoots). How versatile is that?
Strangely, to date, we do not seem to revere it so much over in the West. It has traditionally been used in North America for outdoor furniture, outdoor fencing, musical instruments and baskets. Recently we have seen fabric made from bamboo and with the call for sustainable living getting louder, bamboo is proving to be a ‘must-have’ commodity in North America.
If you are having a new home built and want to subscribe to the sustainable living ideals, there are many bamboo products that you can order from your builder. For instance, bamboo flooring, furniture, drapes, mats and food containers are all available in USA.
Bamboo flooring appears just as if it is a hardwood floor. Like wood, it can be used in the bathroom as it is suitable for radiant heat floors. According to the National Hardwood Flooring Association bamboo flooring is 10% harder than red oak hardwood flooring. It usually has a tongued and grooved finish which produces a smooth sheen to the floor.
Another use of bamboo that is gaining more popularity is as its use for fabrics for drapes and clothes. It is a breathable fabric and is very soft. For clothes, bamboo can take up to four times more moisture absorption than cotton, although this is not useful for drapes. Sheers in bamboo can be bought, they are available in several shades and have a soft look and feel that is unique to bamboo.
Bamboo can be bought and raised successfully in North America, even in most climates of the west coast, including the damp ones, (hello Seattle!)
You can mail order or email order from photos illustrated on the web site of a bamboo nursery in Chilliwack B.C. This company offers delivery and they quote actual temperatures that their plants can withstand. Some of the temperatures that Japanese bamboo can live through are well down in the sub-zeros .If you want to buy some fast growing trees for your yard, bamboo would be a good choice.
Bamboos start from tiny house plants to bushes in one gallon tubs and on up to seven gallon tubs. Bamboos would be a great tree to choose for a new home, or for a newly landscaped garden, as they can grow to full size within 6 years, unlike most of the trees of the North West which take ten times longer.
Some trees can be bought which sport the massive bamboo stems that we associate with the look of bamboo, and some just bush out voluminously almost hiding all their branches. You can choose from brown, green or golden stems and leaves come in green or variegated colors including yellow, orange, green and white or thinly striped.
Okay, so you’ve heard about global warming, the importance of recycling and a lot of talk about organic food. You get the idea that going green is the wave of the future but are not sure how you fit in. By making simple changes you will not only help the environment but you’ll save your family and pets from toxic chemicals that are present in regular household cleaning products.
Whether you know it or not there are many products on the market that are extremely harmful to your health and that of your family and pets. These can cause many irritations to the skin, eyes and nose. Not to mention, these chemicals linger for days and weeks after you are finished using them. You wind up creating a little chemical mixture in your own home that you’re breathing in all the time. This is in part due to cleaning products but also the paints we use on our walls, varnishes on our furniture and the formaldehydes and glues in our carpet.
There is hope! New products are revolutionizing the way you clean and live in your home. These days you can buy an eco-friendly home and install anything from flooring to window treatments that are better for both you and the environment. Yes, these options are a bit more expensive but well worth it in the long run. You can’t put a price on your own health and that of your family. There are also wide ranges of fun cleaning products that smell great, are non-toxic, biodegradable and won’t hurt our precious earth. These ingredients do not include the harsh chemicals, that regular products have such as bleach nor do they contain sulfates or petroleum-based contents, rather they have plant-based ingredients. Why is this important? Well, let’s not forget that petrol is a non-renewable resource that is quickly being depleted. Sulfates cause an overgrowth of algae in our waters and kill off fish everyday. We can do something about this!
All of these next generation products are also usually made from recyclable plastics and are recyclable themselves. They can also be reused for your other homemade cleaning concoctions such as vinegar, or water while using baking soda.
There are many new companies providing products at the moment, you might have seen some recently on Oprah. Such companies are Method Products, Seventh Generation, Shaklee, and Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day. Of all of these products I can personally attest to using Method brand products. A girlfriend got me to try their liquid dishwashing soap and I was hooked! I soon explored their mint window wash for glass and windows as well as their all purpose cleaner in such great scents as cucumber, lavender and pink grapefruit. Who wouldn’t want to clean with these fun-smelling products?! What I started to realize was that while I was making a difference to our planet, I actually looked forward to cleaning with these great solutions because they smelled so wonderful AND they cleaned phenomenally well to boot! For those of you who prefer fragrance-free they also offer a line called “naked” that does not have any scent at all.
They sell their products conveniently online and in your local Target stores and some drug stores carry a range of their products also. Easy to find, Easy to use and Easy on your skin, eyes and nose. So safe you don’t even need to use gloves to protect your hands! Their wide range of offerings include soy-based candles, oil diffusers, dish washing liquid, dishwasher cubes, laundry detergent and fabric softener to all purpose cleaners, tub and tile sprays and they now even include body wash and hand soaps! They have a product to match every regular product on the grocery store shelves including micro fiber cloths, which eliminate the need for paper towel waste and provide a streak-free shine! Do you have a specialty surface like granite or stainless steel? They ave you covered there too!