Bamboo Isn't Just a Fad

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As a licensed and practicing architect, I regularly take continuing education courses to stay up to date and maintain my certification. My most recent course detailed the perks and benefits of using bamboo in remodeling, renovation and building, and it's pretty incredible what using bamboo can do for your holistic space and for the environment. Let's take a look at why bamboo is hopefully here to stay. 

Bamboo is Environmentally Friendly and Sustainable

Using bamboo to build dates back at least 2,000 years in Chinese culture, and there are 1,400 different species of bamboo, all of which can be used differently. It's such an amazing untapped resource that fully engaging in a bamboo-based industry could provide jobs for up to one billion people worldwide, all without providing any unnecessary strain on our environment or ecosystems. 

Unlike the harvesting process of typical trees, harvesting bamboo does not fully release its carbon dioxide supply into the air. This is no small detail, since deforestation is one of the main contributors to global warming through carbon off gassing. Instead, the root structure of bamboo stays alive and holds onto almost 50% of the carbon it sequesters, which can be up to 60% more than fir trees.

Bamboo also releases 35% more oxygen than typical fir trees, helping to give back more to the environment, and since it is harvested more selectively, it doesn't wear out soil, which prevents the need for relocation, a common issue in traditional wood harvesting.  

Bamboo is a rapidly renewing resource, and due to its tight hold on carbon and the fact that it travels via sea and train for much of its journey to us from Asian countries, it's actually a carbon negative product, which means that yes, it is more sustainable in every way than traditional wood. All of this, without even mentioning that relying on bamboo for building can not only avoid the devastating effects deforestation has on some indigenous species, it can actually help us to provide more solid economies for these people while we still have everything we need in building supplies. 

Using Bamboo Adds Nature to Your Space

Recent research shows that using natural wood in indoor environments actually has positive impacts on our health, much like that of spending time out in nature. In fact, using natural wood like bamboo for our building needs can lead to decreased blood pressure, lower levels of stress and increased emotional wellness! Talk about benefits!

What's more, some other studies have shown that physical contact with wood products, as opposed to other materials like aluminum and plastic, actually produces positive physiological responses. We feel safer when we're surrounded by nature, even if it's in our homes and not outdoors. These studies also show that imitation wood doesn't have the same effects. 

It's not difficult to see why choosing bamboo for renovations and other indoor needs is a good move all around. In fact, we'll share even more benefits soon! With plenty of perks and almost no downside (as long as you get quality, properly aged product!), bamboo is potentially an amazing tool to move us forward in sustainable, eco-friendly building and green design. Would you consider using it?

by Anjie Cho

4 Tips for Buying Sustainable Wood

As you're creating your holistic space, there will almost definitely be situations in which you need to seek out wood in some way or another. Whether to add a wall, redo flooring or to replace an entertainment center, the uses for wood in our society are numerous. Unfortunately, the wood we use is often in danger of extinction and is not often harvested in an eco-friendly, sustainable or respectable way. 

Not only can using certain harvesting processes significantly reduce the number of certain types of trees on our planet, it can also displace many species of animals, as well as indigenous people who call these forests home. In addition, unsustainable, at times even illegal, practices can contribute to poor water quality and environmental issues as well. 

Since trees produce the very oxygen we breathe, opting for a sustainable route on this front is a no-brainer. But actually putting this into practice can be difficult if you don't know what you're looking for. Keep these tips in mind when hunting down wood for new projects or searching for that perfect coffee table. 

Seek out Gold Standard

The FSC, or Forest Stewardship Council, is well-known as the highest standard in ensuring that wood is sustainably harvested. This organization takes great care, from the initial cut to the final product, to ensure that wood delivered to the masses is produced with high regard for the environment, animal species that live in these forests and indigenous people who depend upon these trees for livelihood. The FSC has an easily identifiable label stamped on each piece of certified sustainable wood, which is available at most supply companies. Before anything, look for this option. If you cannot find it, ask in depth about the origin of the wood you have your eye on. 

Avoid Tropical Woods

Though it's ideal not to buy any wood that isn't certifiably sustainable, purchasing certain tropical woods can do even more damage, based on the fact that these trees do not grow as quickly or in as great of numbers as other materials. If you're in the market for any of the woods below, look for the FSC label, ensure that it's been sustainably harvested, or seriously reconsider. 

  • Big Leaf Mahogany
  • Spanish Cedar
  • Caribbean Pine
  • Ipe
  • Rosewood
  • Teak
  • Ramin
  • Merbau
  • African Mahogany
  • Okoume

Know WHERE Your Wood Originated

If you're unable to find the type of wood you want with an FSC label, it's important to ask the right questions in determining whether your particular selection is contributing to deforestation and other negative outcomes. For certain woods, including Beech, Pine, Oak, Douglas Fir and more, the geographical area of harvesting is just as important as the actual process. This post in Eluxe Magazine is a great resource for determining whether you're buying legal, ethically harvested wood. 

Keep an Open Mind

Wood may be one of the most elegant, timeless and sturdy options for building, but it isn't the only one. If furniture is your end game, be open to other options, like bamboo, wicker, plastic wood or a plastic-wood composite, all of which can significantly reduce the harm done to our forests, while still providing beautiful options for holistic living. 

Other options include seeking out reclaimed or recycled wood, both in building projects and in completed furniture, or checking out your choices of used furniture on trusted sites like eBay. In this case, be sure to clear the wood of any predecessor energy before welcoming it into your space! 

by Anjie Cho