Bamboo Is The New Cotton (in a good way)

If you know Treehugger, you know that we like bamboo almost as much as if we were pandas, so we were happy to learn that the LA Times published an article yesterday about the virtues of bamboo. The title of this post is a quote from Linda Loudermilk, an "artist-couturier" from Los Angeles. She also said: "[bamboo] has all the properties that you physically want out of cotton, plus some. Bamboo is more antibacterial than cotton or wool, which are very absorbent and hold moisture in. Because bamboo wicks moisture away, it's great for your circulation and skin." You can learn more about Linda Loudermilk and her clothes on her website.The LA Times article then goes on to talk about bamboo floors and gives a few useful tips to those who are considering that material:

Bamboo right off the boat, like other tropical woods, has a 20% moisture content. Make sure the supplier has dried the planks to 10% humidity or the floor may shrink and pull apart.

Ask the supplier to drop off the wood a couple of weeks before the flooring contractor arrives to let the bamboo adjust to your house's microclimate.

Since bamboo is an organic product, color variations may occur. To ensure that your floor doesn't look like a giant patchwork quilt, randomly mix up the planks from different boxes before laying them.

Don't install the planks flush to the wall. Leave a half-inch of space for the material to expand on hot, humid days. You will need to conceal the gap with quarter-round or other moulding.

But before you go crazy, you should read this post that contains some caveats about bamboo. The source is important - as with all renewable resources - and despite it's fast growing nature, bamboo still has to be harvested in a sustainable way to get maximum eco-benefits out of it.

More about bamboo from the article:

There are about 1,200 species of bamboo, which is among the most widely used plant on earth. Some species of bamboo resist stretching better than steel, so in warm or tropical countries where they grow abundantly, this bamboo often substitutes for steel in the construction of houses, rafts, bridges and scaffolding.

Bamboo isn't actually a wood at all, but a generally hollow grass that renews itself in seven years or less—and doesn't require pesticides. This is one of the reasons bamboo is so attractive to environmentalists: Certain subtropical species can grow from a foot to more than three feet per day, and it's not unusual for them to reach 100 feet. It's like sustainability on steroids. Proper harvesting causes no more harm to the plant than mowing does to a lawn. And because it is a grass, bamboo is free of knots, which affect the stability of wood.

Bamboo is nature's total-use product. Split and flattened culms (the distinctive jointed bamboo stems) are made into baskets, mats, hats and fish traps. The pulp can be made into paper. Branches yield water pipes, brooms, chopsticks and musical instruments; in 2000, Yamaha introduced a laminated-bamboo guitar. Bamboo splits perfectly straight and thin, making it perfect for fishing rods. Leftover pieces make firewood. Gourmets eat the tender young shoots. The leaves make animal fodder.

Thanks to Frank Giovanni from Growing Your Own Food for the tip!

::LA Times, ::Learn About Bamboo at Wikipedia

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