It’s no secret that we’re big fans of bamboo. We chose it to make our wooden sunglasses because of its incredibly positive environmental impact.
In particular, bamboo is especially environmentally friendly when it comes to water. Unlike many commercial crops, bamboo requires relatively little water to grow. Once the plant has been established for about three years or so it can get all the water it needs straight from the ground. Since harvesting bamboo doesn’t mean killing the plant, there’s no need to continually plan new, water-hungry seedlings. Like the camels of the plant world, bamboo plants suck up water when it’s plentiful, then hold onto it for dry times.
In the regions where bamboo grows best, the wet times are wet. Torrential downpours can reak havoc on land that has been cleared, without plants and their roots to hold soil in place, it quickly washes away causing the loss of valuable nutrients and even catastrophic landslides. Remember how harvesting bamboo doesn’t kill the plant? Because it’s a grass, bamboo can be harvested without destroying the roots. This has a massive impact on preventing soil erosion and landslides.
Recently, experiments have begun using bamboo as a secondary type wastewater treatment system through Root Zone Management or RZM. RZM uses the natural process by which water is transported through the roots and the rhizomes of the bamboo to clean water.
And while we’re still waiting to see if bamboo can be used to clean water, at least we know it’s less likely to pollute local water systems. Unlike most plants grown commercially, bamboo actually self fertilizes. A major problem with chemical fertilizers is that only a small percentage winds up being absorbed by the plant, the rest is often swept away into local streams and rivers. By contrast, bamboo simply gets all the nutrients it needs by recycling its own leaves.
Water conservation is a huge topic these days, and rightfully so. Predictions about water usage and availability can look awfully dire. But the future isn’t set in stone, and if we’re mindful in our choices and deliberate in our consumption then there’s hope yet. We find constant inspiration in the world around us and the innovative ways people are swapping single-use plastics for kinder, eco-friendly options. Change happens drop by drop, and together, we can make sure there's plenty of water to go around.