Is Bamboo Sustainable?

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Written by Moss Lane Staff

Bamboo is a sustainable resource which eco-friendly consumers are increasingly looking for to replace products made from less environmentally friendly materials, like cotton, plastic, and lumber. This resource alternative is sustainable because of its carbon-efficiency, durability, and biodegradability. 

Bamboo is also a fast-growing plant which can be grown to full height in months, making it easily replenishable. While bamboo growing processes can be resource-intensive, countries and companies alike are encouraging and enforcing better practices to ensure bamboo is as eco-friendly as possible. So it really depends on what type of farm the bamboo comes from.

This guide will explain why bamboo is sustainable, which bamboo products are ideal alternatives to plastic, cotton, and timber, and which companies are leading the way with sustainable bamboo products.

What is Bamboo?

Before we get into the sustainability of bamboo as a resource and material, it’s important to understand what bamboo really is.

Bamboo is a plant from the Poaceae family with wide uses from construction projects to consumption as a food. This plant is renewable and can be quickly grown to full size in just months which has led it to be used increasingly as a wood alternative. 

As a wood alternative, bamboo can be used for furniture, as hardwood lumber, and even for bridge consumption. While bamboo is primarily used for architectural and infrastructure purposes in China, more consumers in the United Stated are looking for bamboo products in their packaging, fabric, toothbrush handles, and even household products like eco-friendly toilet paper because of its sustainable nature. 

Whether you’re trying to replace traditional wood, plastic, or even cotton products, bamboo-sourced products are worth consideration if you prioritize sustainability. 

Is Bamboo Eco-Friendly?

Bamboo is an eco-friendly source for products ranging from household items to furniture because of its carbon efficiency, oxygen generation, and quick growing nature. 

Bamboo can be grown to full size in just months and is one of the fastest growing plants on Earth. Its speed in growth makes it an attractive alternative to trees which can take years to decades to grow to full height. 

Bamboo stores carbon efficiently and absorbs two times more carbon dioxide than trees while generating oxygen. This plant also protects species in forests, serving as habitat and food source for animals like pandas. 

As a durable, strong plant, bamboo also requires less replacement than weaker wood sources or plastic when used in consumer goods. When used in industrial applications, bamboo is also less deleterious for the environment than concrete.

Bamboo can grow to full size in just a couple months, and is one of the fastest growing plants on Earth.

Why Bamboo is Sustainable: Key Properties of Bamboo

Bamboo is a sustainable plant like trees which can be used for a number of purposes and replenished when more is grown. It can be used as a replacement for plastic, cotton, wood, and even steel. 

Bamboo doesn’t require pesticides or fertilizers in its growth, which is preferable for environments where it’s grown. Bamboo also can be used to remove large amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to help keep global warming in check. Where bamboo is grown, it can serve as carbon sinks, storing carbon. 

It also can replace timber, concrete, and steel, all of which are less sustainable building resources. 

Bamboo’s roots also survive harvesting and can be quickly regrown in months. Bamboo can also be used for land restoration because its roots reach deep in the earth, binding together and preventing soil erosion. It has been planted for land restoration projects in Tanzania and Ghana to prevent soil erosion, restoring the land while serving as a resource for furniture and household item manufacturing. 

Products made from bamboo are also biodegradable in contrast to plastic and architectural projects made from bamboo are as strong as steel. 

One risk of bamboo sustainability is resource intensive growing practices, especially in China. Fortunately, more companies and countries are cracking down on these practices to ensure bamboo remains a sustainable resource which doesn’t harm local environments. 

Is Bamboo Fabric Sustainable? 

Bamboo itself is a sustainable resource, but is the fabric derived from it eco-friendly?

Bamboo fabric can be sustainable depending on how it is processed and how manufacturers dispose of chemical byproducts. Bamboo rayon processed fabric byproducts are not sustainable unless the byproducts are disposed of properly. Lyocell bamboo uses a process to recapture and reuse chemical solution but this fabric type accounts for a small amount of fabric on the market. 

Bamboo fabric generally uses less water and requires less labor than cotton. And, as mentioned, bamboo doesn’t require pesticide unlike cotton fabric. 

If you’re looking for bamboo fabric, make sure to research where the fabric is being sourced and how it’s processed before your purchase. 

Is Bamboo Recyclable?

Bamboo can be recycled as it’s 100 percent biodegradable. You can compost bamboo which should take just a few months. The only exception is if the bamboo has been chemically processed—like if the bamboo is made into fabric and has been dyed by chemical dyes.

Is Bamboo More Sustainable Than Wood? 

Bamboo is more sustainable than wood due to bamboo’s ability to quickly grow to full height in three to four months in contrast to wood which takes years. Bamboo has similar uses to wood for furniture, lumber, structures, and more. Bamboo is similarly strong and durable to wood. 

Bamboo is also easily transportable, across the world even, which isn’t always the case with traditional lumber.

Is Bamboo Toilet Paper Sustainable?

Yes! Some of our favorite eco-friendly toilet paper brands use bamboo over traditional virgin wood pulp. Bamboo toilet paper is sustainable as bamboo is biodegradable and renewable. Bamboo toilet paper breaks down quickly and the source, bamboo plants can be grown quickly and efficiently to be made into more toilet paper. 

Just like paper toilet paper, bamboo paper breaks down in water and won’t cause plumbing issues. While toilet paper made from recycled paper is probably the most sustainable option, bamboo toilet paper is a good option too (especially if you’re looking for an “organic” toilet paper option).

Is Bamboo Packaging Sustainable? 

Yes, bamboo packaging is sustainable as bamboo is a renewable resource which grows rapidly. Bamboo is biodegradable and can be compostable in just a few months. This plant is also carbon efficient. Bamboo packaging is a more sustainable option than packaging made from plastic, metal, paper, or even wood. 

Is Bamboo More Sustainable Than Silverware?

No, bamboo utensils are less sustainable than metal silverware utensils as bamboo utensils are disposable and are usually single use. Bamboo utensils are more sustainable than plastic single-use cutlery as bamboo can be recycled. If you plan to use a cutlery set regularly, investing in metal silverware is the more sustainable option. 

How Bamboo Can Be Made More Sustainable

Despite bamboo’s sustainable benefits, there are some downsides of its production. One issue with bamboo farming is that with mass growing operations, other plant life is affected when bamboo is exclusively grown in an area. This can be mitigated by mixing bamboo crops with other crops in the area to ensure other plant life isn’t negatively affected. 

Some bamboo growing practices can be resource-intensive. As the industry evolves and companies and countries enforce better practices to ensure farms aren’t being resource inefficient, bamboo sustainability will increase. 

Another issue facing bamboo sustainability is poor sourcing and manufacturing practices such as not disposing of bamboo chemical byproducts when making bamboo fabric. Here it is the responsibility of the industry to create or enforce certifications for the production processes so that consumers know which products are made sustainably from bamboo. 

Regardless of these issues, between the land restoration advantages of bamboo, its carbon sink qualities, and its biodegradability, bamboo is a sustainable resource which more consumers should consider as an alternative to traditional products.

Our Favorite Businesses Using Bamboo in Their Products

With more businesses offering bamboo products, it’s important to know the top businesses with truly sustainable sourcing and usage of this resource. These are the top three small businesses Moss Lane has reviewed which use bamboo in their products. 

Avocado Bamboo Mattresses

Avocado Bamboo Mattresses are top-ranked organic mattresses with leading organic mattress certifications including that Avocado are organic and made of raw material. Avocado’s business is also certified as Carbon Neutral. 

Avocado mattresses are hybrid mattresses which are gentle and firm, good for all sleepers, whether back or stomach sleepers. They also have over 12,000 5-star reviews. 

Coop Organic Pillows

Coop Organic Pillows are non-toxic pillows, ideal for back sleepers which come thick and firm. These pillows can be adjusted to softness with adjustable fill. The pillows have a bamboo rayon casing and are certified non-toxic. Coop pillows have over 30,000 5-star reviews on Amazon and are ideal for consumers looking for pillows partially sourced from bamboo. 

Who Gives a Crap Bamboo Toilet Paper

Who Gives a Crap is a sustainable toilet paper company offering bamboo toilet paper. This toilet paper is made of sustainably sourced bamboo, sourced from small family farms. Who Gives a Crap is a perfect choice if you’re looking for soft, bamboo toilet paper which will dissolve in your plumbing system just like normal toilet paper while maintaining its comfortable feel. 

Ettitude Bamboo Sheets

If you’re looking for organic bamboo sheets to complement your new bamboo mattress, or your traditional mattress, the Ettitude is a perfect choice. These sheets are made from 100% organic bamboo which feels like silk, which is breathable and cool. These sheets are free from harmful chemicals and are far more sustainable than traditional cotton sheets. 

Ettitude is climate neutral certified, focused on reducing the effects of climate change, and is launching a new textile recycling program to encourage recycling and reuse of sheets. 

The Future of Bamboo Sustainability

Bamboo is an excellent resource for eco-friendly consumers considering alternatives to cotton, plastic, polyester, and other material products. Bamboo can be quickly replenished, durable, great for land restoration, and ideal for carbon maintenance on earth. 

Whether you’re looking for a mattress, fabric replacement, new toilet paper, or new packaging for your products, you should consider bamboo products. With better growing practices at bamboo farms and improved recycling for bamboo chemical byproducts, the future is bright for bamboo product sustainability. 

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Moss Lane Staff

The Moss Lane Staff is comprised of seasoned content professionals who specialize in synthesizing large amounts of information and making it accessible to every day readers. This article was written and edited by multiple members of our staff to ensure comprehensive coverage of the topic.