Considered a “woody grass,” not a tree, bamboo can be used in the production of furniture, décor, kitchenware — even clothing and food — with sustainability in mind.
To understand the process of harvesting this versatile material, think about mowing a lawn. You can cut it down fairly short, wait a week or two, and find that it has already grown back to its original height. Bamboo grows in a similar way — except, instead of blades, the vertical shoots (the parts that resemble tree trunks) are called culms. When the culms are harvested, the plant’s system of roots remains underground, ready to regenerate by sending up new shoots. These can be harvested as well, allowing the cycle to repeat — unlike hardwood trees, which die, of course, when cut down.
By properly maintaining a bamboo forest and removing stalks at full maturity (and decaying ones as needed) the overall productivity of that bamboo is increased, allowing it to generate more stalks than the plants would in the wild and thereby promoting new, healthy growth. Individual culms reach maturity in about five years — signified in part by the appearance of leaves and branches at the top. When harvested at this point, the finished bamboo lumber is maximally durable.
This production cycle contrasts with that of traditional hardwood lumber. Trees such as oak and cedar can take ten to forty years to mature, and some companies that harvest these types of wood do not replant after depleting a forest’s resources — they “clear cut” the forest new balance 996. Clearcutting has a devastating impact on the local environment because native species of birds, reptiles, and mammals are left with a large part of their habitat destroyed. The sudden removal of trees en masse can also lead to warmer river temperatures, which is harmful to fish populations.
It isn’t too difficult to find sustainable lumber that has been certified by the non-profit Forest Stewardship Council, but bamboo holds another advantage over traditional wood in its special ability to reduce carbon emissions. Because it grows at such a fast pace, bamboo consumes a substantially greater amount of carbon dioxide than an equal-sized grouping of trees — 62 tons of carbon dioxide in one hectare over one year compared to 15 tons. It also produces up to 35% more oxygen than hardwood trees.
Lastly, while it’s a known staple of the Great Panda’s diet, no panda will go hungry for want of the Moso bamboo used in our products — the Anji mountain region is not their home!