With the green movement, bamboo flooring is being marketed as eco-friendly and better for the environment than other flooring alternatives. Is it really true that bamboo flooring is better for the environment? Let's examine the truth behind this.
Bamboo is the fastest growing grass on the planet and has been recorded to grow 3 feet per day in some parts of the world. Bamboo has a rhizome root which means its roots spread out allowing for new growth. Once bamboo is chopped down, it continues to grow without the need to be replanted. It takes 2 to 3 years for bamboo to reach full maturity unlike other trees that take 40 to 70 years to fully mature. With all these factors, one might agree that bamboo flooring is the greener choice. Hey, it's renewable and grows rapidly.
Not so fast! After everything is said and done, bamboo leaves a considerable carbon footprint. It uses valuable fossil fuels and air polluting machinery before it is finally laid to rest on the floor. First, most bamboo is harvested in China. Once deforested, it is trucked to ports, then shipped across the ocean. When it arrives at its destination port, it is then trucked once again to manufactures to be processed. After the processing stage, the manufactures load the final product onto trucks to be transported to the vendors.
Here is another thing to consider, as bamboo continues to increase inpopularity, there is a demand for more bamboo to be produced. Natural hardwood forests are being cut and burned down and being replaced with bamboo forests to keep up with the demand. This not only impacts the surrounding wildlife, but it reduces the valuable oxygen that the natural forests produce. If that is not scary enough, when bamboo is being processed, most manufacturers use urea-formaldehyde in the adhesive for bonding the bamboo strips. As of recent, a lot of manufacturers are processing the bamboo with lower urea-formaldehyde than the EPA requires, however, they are not forced by the EPA to provide any evidence of that claim.
Even though bamboo is a renewable resource, is it worth the environmental impact? That depends on how you look at it. All floorings, synthetics or natural, still require the use of fossil fuels in order to be processed and shipped. They all have environmental impacts whether it's from deforestation or being produced with harmful chemicals. The only difference with bamboo is that consumers are led to believe that installing this material is 'green' and better than other flooring systems. When in all actuality, bamboo flooring is a bill of goods that is being marketed and sold to make the consumer feel like they are doing the right thing.