When you think of bamboo, is the first image that comes to your mind one of an adorable panda munching on a bamboo plant? Me, too!
While bamboo is undoubtedly a valuable source of food for pandas everywhere, it's so much more than a tasty snack for one of the world's cutest endangered animals.
Bamboo is also an incredibly useful resource for humans, too. The bamboo plant grows naturally in many countries across the globe, and people have discovered a wide range of uses for this eco-friendly and renewable plant.
The bamboo plant's many unique properties make it an excellent material for creating many of the items people use in daily life. Here's why bamboo's toughness, fast-growing nature, and qualities as a conductor make it so useful.
Bamboo is Stronger than Steel
Image courtesy of researchgate.net
Research has shown that the bamboo plant has greater tensile strength – or resistance to being pulled apart – than steel and withstands compression better than concrete. These traits – combined with a rare combination of toughness and lightness – make the bamboo plant an excellent construction material. It can be used for everything from flooring and roofing to piping.
Bamboo is highly flexible also, and it can be shaped and bent when growing or after cutting to fit building requirements. Its capacity for shock absorption has proven advantageous for building earthquake-resistant structures.
Of course, bamboo is used for more than just constructing buildings. According to the USDA, bamboo is not only harder than most types of wood but also also less porous, making it ideal for household items such as cutting boards, bowls, utensils, furniture, decor, and more.
With bamboo's versatility, however, those aren't the only bamboo items you may have around the house.
Bamboo Has a Softer Side, Too
While bamboo is often used for hard, durable products, bamboo also has a softer side. From pillows to duvet covers to clothing, bamboo is a popular and eco-friendly material also used for creating cozy comfort items.
Bamboo can also be used to create another household product that's actually quite plush – toilet paper. Unlike trees that are harvested for T.P., the bamboo plant's rapid renewability makes it an ideal material for this must-have bathroom essential.
Yet with all of the uses for the bamboo plant, you may be wondering if there's enough bamboo to go around. Luckily, there's plenty – the bamboo plant is also highly sustainable.
Bamboo is Earth's Fastest Growing Plant
The bamboo plant's fast-growing nature makes the plant well-suited for both construction (an industry that needs vast amounts of resources) and across all other types of uses. The Guinness Book of World Records names bamboo as the fastest growing plant in the world.
Bamboo has been found to grow up to 35 inches or 91 centimeters per day at a rate of 0.00002 miles per hour or 0.00003 kilometers per hour.
Since the bamboo plant grows so quickly, an entire bamboo forest can be grown in a just few years. The plant regrows so fast that farmers around the world can use the plant as food for their livestock, too.
The speed of bamboo's growth allows for the plant to quickly become available for harvesting. A crew can strip a bamboo forest for a major job, replant, and come back in a few years to use a new crop for the next project, making the bamboo plant far more sustainable that traditional lumber.
The Bamboo Plant Even Conducts Electricity
While bamboo is extremely useful due to its toughness and the speed of its growth, there are even more unique properties that make the plant uniquely useful. Namely, bamboo has a unique ability to conduct electrical currents.
Thomas Edison discovered that carbonized bamboo could conduct electrical current for more than 1,200 hours. Bamboo could withstand the electrical current more than any known material at the time.
According to the Uttaranchal (P.G.) College Of Bio-Medical Sciences & Hospital, researchers have found that bamboo can be used as a natural "nanotube" to conduct electricity.
Researchers continue to build on Edison's findings concerning the bamboo plant, and it is likely bamboo will continue to be used in even more innovative ways in the future.
The bamboo plant is so versatile, you may already have some bamboo-made products in your home.
Have someone in your life who's always looking for the next great green thing? Share this article with them on social media so the bamboo plant can reach even more deserving fans.