Bamboo is one of the most useful plants on our planet and a member of the grass family. It grows in abundance, achieving maturity in only 4 to 7 years and reaching heights of 40 metres. No Fertilizers or pesticides are required to support and maintain growth. There is hardly a country in the world that has not embraced the use of Bamboo in some form. For a member of the grass family it has amazing structural properties due to interlocking fibres, it can withstand considerable loads. The uses of this valuable plant include.
- The staple diet for the loveable Panda Bear
- Form work
- Fashion items such as watches, sunglasses and phone cases
The cutest of all Bears, the Panda; 99% of its staple diet is Bamboo.
In South Western Australia Bamboo plantations are being harvested and used to fuel small highly efficient power generators. Smouldering Bamboo generates enormous heat and at the same time carbon emission is classified at acceptable levels by local and international regulatory and environment authorities. Even the waste product ash is used effectively as natural Fertilizer. Similar to a cash crop, after harvest it sends out new shoots and ready for another harvest in a few years. Production, maintenance and harvesting costs are very low in comparison to other forms of carbon fuel such as coal and there are virtually no adverse effects on the environment.
In Thailand and Hong Kong the ancient form of Bamboo scaffolding is still used to this day. In one case reaching heights equivalent to 88 floors. It is hard to imagine how the entire structure supports itself let alone carry the weight of hundreds of workers. But it works, lightweight, easy to cut to size and lash together; it’s more flexible and far quicker to erect than its modern steel counterpart. “It leaves us to wonder”
A couple of bright structural engineers assisted on a voluntary basis to develop methods of budget housing construction project in Brazil. They tested the structural properties of Bamboo and realised it was suitable to act as concrete form work. This reduced the amount of structural steel.
Over the past five years Bamboo or so socks of appeared on the retail shelves in vast numbers, colours and styles. However, contrary to what is noted on the product information, the fabric is actually Rayon, which is a semi-synthetic fibre made by chemically reshaping cellulose. Cellulose extracted from Bamboo is suitable for processing into Viscose rayon, which is typically used for lining suit jackets and women’s clothing, but sometimes the product information, is misleading. Never the less it is still far more eco- friendly than synthetic fibres such as polyester.
Bamboo furniture is something we are all familiar with and flooring has grown in popularity over recent years. But the coolest emergence to the market is Bamboo watches and sunglasses. The interlocking structure of this natural material gives it great tensile strength and flexibility even when cut thinly. Its light weight and looks and feels really great. And they are low-cost items so if you accidentally sit on your glasses or lose the watch replacement costs won’t break the bank.
One of the most awesome experiences I’ve ever had, was walking through a bamboo forest, being dwarfed by this majestic grass, peaceful cool and quiet is etched into my memory for ever.