Bamboo is a widely known plant that is thought to originate in Asia. In the past, bamboo has been commonly used for fishing poles, tiki torches, and other tools that were necessary for survival. Today, bamboo is known to be a versatile plant that can be used infinitely.
Bamboo is a great natural resource that has applications in everyday living. Bamboo can and has been used for roads, medicinal purposes, animal health, construction, clothes, accessories, food, furniture, rugs, kitchenware, toys, beer, instruments, and the list goes on. With all this potential, one wonders why Bamboo has not been put to greater use earlier.
Since bamboo is not a tree, and is a grass, it grows very quickly. Similar to weeds, bamboo is difficult to remove if it invades an unwanted piece of ground. Instead of removing weeds and trying to grow the perfect lawn, the western culture should consider using “weeds” to an advantage. If bamboo has been able to find so many eco-friendly opportunities, there should be other plants in addition to bamboo that may have similar qualities.
Consider bananas and the banana plant. Once bananas are ripe, the stalk on which they grow approaches the end of its life cycle and dies. As Asian people have learned to use bamboo in many ways, the people of South America have learned to use this stalk for a variety of uses. Slightly similar to bamboo, the banana plant grows and reproduces through its root system so once the stalks are harvested, the banana plant shoots up a new stalk and is able to replace itself. Similar to the popularization of bamboo as an eco-friendly alternative material for just about everything in the Western Culture, banana stalks should begin to populate as a building material also.
Though it is not very structurally supportive (yet?), banana fiber has been used for rope, tablemats and accessories. Other parts of the banana plant have been used for rain protection, fishing lines, etc. Taking the water protective aspect of the banana plant, maybe it can start to appear on buildings as a water repellent or anything else in construction that additional research could teach us.