Bamboo: A Viable Alternative
“Bamboo? It’s a tropical tree that grows in the jungles of Southeast Asia, right?”
That’s typically most people’s understanding of this amazingly versatile and useful plant (which, by the way, is not a tree). There’s been a “bamboo boom” in recent years as worldwide markets have discovered the many uses and benefits of bamboo. Fortunately, this boom is a win-win situation no matter how you look at: economic opportunity in developing nations, rapidly renewable resource, increased wildlife habitat, erosion control, and absorb greenhouse gases.
Did we mention that bamboo is also the fastest growing plant in the world? And it’s edible, too!
Bamboo is not wood and is technically a grass. Obviously a very large and hearty grass if you’ve ever seen it growing – and we mean that almost literally, as certain species of bamboo have been recorded as growing more than 47 inches within 24 hours. Typically, though, most varieties of cultivated bamboo grow 1-4 a day. That’s still impressive! Bamboo’s growth rate & biomass is unsurpassed in the plant kingdom and they reach their full height at the end of the first growing season (3-4 months). The bamboo stalks (called culms) continue to harden and are ready for final harvest within 1-7 years depending on the species and intended use. Compare that to the hardwoods we are all so familiar with, which take at least forty years to mature before they can be harvested. Fully mature bamboo has a tensile strength that exceeds steel, which explains why hundreds of millions of people use bamboo poles to build their homes.
Why are we so excited about bamboo? One reason is the recent introduction of our Tribute Bamboo Urn, the latest addition to our line of biodegradable urns. This urn, along with our Traditional Bamboo Urn, are both constructed of 100% bamboo and sealed with a water-based finish. Though considered “biodegradable” due to the all-natural materials used in making these urns, they’re actually very durable and will last for generations if kept indoors on a shelf or other display.
Bamboo’s Many Uses
- Utensils & Tools
- Human food (bamboo shoots are common in Asian cuisine)
- Food source for wildlife (pandas, lemurs, gorillas, and elephants)
- Livestock fodder (cows, horses, sheep, goats, and fowl love the top branches & leaves)
- Mulch and livestock bedding
- Shade creation and natural privacy walls
- And…biodegradable urns
Where Does It Grow?
Just about anywhere.
Beyond the steamy machete-wacking tropical jungle, bamboo can and does grow on every continent except Antarctica. Yes, even in New Jersey! Bamboo grows prolificly in Southeast Asia, South America, and the Southeast US – anywhere that’s in a tropical, sub-tropical, or temperate zone. Some species can withstand winter freezes as low as -20F. If your winters are mild and summers warm & moist, you can grow bamboo, too. It’s become a popular staple in gardens around the United States in the past two decades. Be wary, as certain species under the right conditions can quickly overtake your garden and can be difficult to permanently remove.
With it’s deep root systems, bamboo does an excellent job of soil retention and erosion prevention – even after the plant has died or been fully harvested. And what’s more, bamboo typically grows just fine in its natural state without the use of fertilizers or pesticides.
A Literal Lifesaver
If you’ve watched any one of the endless array of wilderness survival shows that are so popular now, you’ll no doubt have seen a virtual-reality situation where bamboo literally saved someone’s life. From building shelter, tapping the culms for fresh water or using them for water catchment, starting a friction fire with bamboo shavings, and even fashioning a very durable weapon – bamboo might save your day!
A Natural Choice
The green burial movement is gaining momentum and families are wanting more natural alternatives for end-of-life rituals. We can say this with confidence as our sales continue to increase year after year, and we are here to help lead funeral homes down a “greener path”. Our bamboo urns are popular sellers and are often ordered with a personal engraving. Now is the time to offer your families something new and different, and to stand apart from your competition. Contact Passages today to find out more about these eco-friendly urns and special introductory pricing.