Bamboo Furnishings – Smart Green Design

For those who find the incessant green barrage tiresome and overwhelming, but still want to take environmental considerations into their decorating and building options, there is an answer: look into sustainable design. That concept consists essentially of choosing materials that balance use of renewable materials with minimization of pollutants.

Why use Bamboo?

Bamboo is a grass, not a tree. This means that when the top is cut off, the bottom grows up to replace it (much like the grass in a freshly-mowed lawn) – the whole plant does not have to be destroyed in the harvesting process. Also consider that bamboo typically reaches a harvestable age in under ten years (compared to decades for most trees). As an added bonus for the crowd intent on lowering carbon-dioxide levels in our atmosphere, per square mile, bamboo process CO2 more aggressively than trees.

Aesthetics

Many may be inclined to shy away from bamboo out of belief that bamboo furnishings can only look like the came straight from the set of a movie based on a deserted island. Bamboo is, however, far more versatile than that. While beautifully crafted pieces can be made by connecting individual poles, bamboo can also be treated in such a way that it can be worked exactly like ordinary wood. That means all sorts of bamboo furnishings are available, including chairs, tables, sofas, dressers, bookcases, flooring pieces, and even sinks. These can be made from solid bamboo, or be created from something like MDF and covered in a bamboo veneer.

There is even variety to be had in the more raw-looking furniture. With the longevity of bamboo furnishings as a whole, there is a huge variety in what is available – particularly considering that bamboo has been used in furniture construction by native cultures around the world. A bamboo chair made by an Ethiopian will undoubtedly look different from one made in Thailand, which will certainly not match one made in the United States. Not to mention that bamboo can be baked to change its color. When exposed to heat, the sugars in the bamboo caramelize, changing the color from the customary yellow to a rich shade of brown.

Availability

Bamboo furnishings, particularly those not constructed from bamboo poles, are no longer just a specialized niche items, and are now available at a wide range of stores. They can be purchased locally in many areas, or found online.

Care

Furniture made from bamboo can be cared for much like any other hardwood. Dust it, keep it clean, and apply a coat of wax for longest life. Raw bamboo should not be exposed to the elements on a regular basis (any more than you’d want to leave untreated wood furniture exposed).

Criticism

That’s not to say bamboo is perfect. It seems unlikely that most consumers would want deforestation for the sake of growing more bamboo. However, this does need to be monitored, as some corporations will respond to the immediate demand without considering long-term consequences. Also, hardwood-style bamboo products may contain large amounts of formaldehyde. It may be reasonable to assume that an increased demand for the product will result in greater research into cleaner processing options.