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Photo: sizumaru

The needle in Alexander Graham Bell’s first phonograph was made of it and Thomas Edison used it as a filament for his glass bulb. We’re talking about bamboo.

HERE’S A LOOK AT 15 interesting uses of the bamboo plant:

1. Bamboo is used for building roads.

Bamboo is being used in road reinforcements in Orissa, India. Bamboo bridges have also been built in China, capable of supporting trucks that weigh as much as 16 tons.

2. Bamboo is used for medicinal purposes.

In China, ingredients from the black bamboo shoot help treat kidney diseases. Roots and leaves have also been used to treat venereal diseases and cancer. According to reports in a small village in Indonesia, water from the culm (the side branches) is used to treat diseases of the bone effectively.

3. Bamboo is used to promote fertility in cows.

I must admit, I was pretty shocked to read about this one. Perhaps it has human applications, too?

4. Bamboo is used to build houses and schools.

Just check out the Green School in Bali.

According to UNESCO, 70 hectares of bamboo produce enough of the material to build 1000 bamboo houses. If timber was used instead, it would require the felling of trees from an already diminishing forest. Today, over one billion people in the world live in bamboo houses.

5. Bamboo is used to make clothes.

Bamboo– it’s the new hemp. T-shirts, socks, robes, boxers… your wardrobe can become entirely organic and sustainable.

6. Bamboo is used to make accessories.

Why stop with the clothes? Bamboo is also used to make necklaces, bracelets, earrings, and other types of jewelry.

7. Bamboo is used to feed people and animals.

Bamboo shoots are used mainly in Asian food preparations. In Japan, the antioxidant properties of the bamboo skin prevent bacterial growth, and are used as natural food preservatives. Bamboo leaves and shoots are also the staple diet of pandas and elephants.

8. Bamboo is used for scaffolding.

Photo: liangjinjian

Bamboo is often used for scaffolding because it proves to be an eco-friendly and cost-effective resource. In Hong Kong, bamboo scaffolding is preferred over metal scaffolding because of its easy availability and because it is cheaper.

9. Bamboo is used to make furniture.

Beautiful and intricately crafted beds, chairs and tables are made from bamboo.

10. Bamboo is used to make rugs.

Exotic woods like the mango are often used in Oriental rugs. Buying a bamboo rug will ensure that you save a tree.

11. Bamboo is used to make diapers.

For those of you who think that going green should start from infancy, wearing diapers made from bamboo cloth is an option. According to Japanese scientists, bamboo cloth can retain its antibacterial quality even after 50 washings.

12. Bamboo is used to make toys.

Growing up, I only had bamboo toys. My parents did not encourage me to play with plastic dolls- and gifts made from plastic were all put away. It was a clear signal from my environmentally conscious parents.

13. Bamboo is used to make durable utensils.

Cups and saucers, spoons and ladles can all be made from bamboo.

14. Bamboo is used to make beer!

If you haven’t tried it yet, I can vouch for the fact that bamboo beer tastes absolutely fabulous. Do go try it.

15. Bamboo is used to make musical instruments.

Flutes, drums, digeridoos, even saxophones– bamboo is versatile when it comes to making instruments.

Community Connection:

Bamboo’s also a way for impoverished communities to become economically self-sufficient. Read about Bamboo House India in this article.

 

 

About The Author

Reeti Roy

Reeti Roy has finished her Bachelors degree from Jadavpur University in Calcutta with first class honors in English Literature. She spent her summer in Edinburgh on a scholarship to pursue Creative Writing and is now at London School of Economics and Political Science pursuing an MSc in Social Anthropology. She blogs here.

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  • http://www.blog.joelrunyon.com Joel

    When I was in Jamaica, we’d slice bamboo in half and place them convexly over the front half of the outhouse hole as well as the very back. It made a strong & solid base that kept the concrete from falling in the hole, which eventually became the floor. Bamboo is awesome.

  • http://matadortrips.com/ Hal Amen

    Bamboo beer! Wow!! Where can one get such a thing?

  • http://www.bearshapedsphere.blogspot.com eileen

    sustainable harvest floors and bicycles, too!

    Nice article. and yes, on the bamboo beer!

  • http://abtastic518.blogspot.com Abbie

    i had no idea bamboo was so useful!

  • Reeti

    @joel: Bamboo Floors! That’s really great :) Not only is it environmentally friendly (you’re nopt cutting down any more trees), but I think it looks really pretty as well.
    Some floors are even intricately designed and decorated.

    @ Hal: If you’re ever in India Hal, make sure you visit Tripura. It’s beautiful and in the hills and you get fantastic bamboo beer there, made locally. Let me warn you though- a friend of mine tasted it and threatened me with dire consequences because she thought it was so awful. But I think it’s worth a try ;)

    @ Eileen: Thanks. And I have the same recommendation for you about the beer :)

    @ Abbie: I know ! Neither did I until it got me thinking :)

  • Anomitra

    Very cool. Some of the uses do come as a surprise. Great article.

    *makes mental note to visit Tripura and have bamboo beer, despite general dislike of beer*

  • rich

    Nice article. I love bamboo too. The only problem is I live in Texas where bamboo is an exotic plant. My back yard is full of it. Now if only I can find a recipe for making beer with bamboo I’ll have something to do with all the bamboo I have to cut. Thanks for the ideas of what I can do with my bamboo.

  • Cami

    Right. That’s it then – my new ambition is to have everything under my roof (and all that is sheltering my house) made of bamboo.
    I still don’t get why the world hasn’t caught on to this fast-growing fibre. Money, probably.
    Brilliant article, anyway. =]
    Have you got more sources for your information? I’d like to know more about where sells bamboo produce.

  • H-Smitty

    Bamboo is also used to make skateboard decks. It is really popular today in the green movement because bamboo grows faster than the wood that is traditionally used to make boards and because it has lots of flex which allows you to carve out your turns easier.
    http://www.treehugger.com/files/2005/07/sector_9s_pinta.php

  • Reeti

    @ Rich: If I ever do come across a recipe, I’ll let you know. Good luck with using bamboo in creative ways.

    @ Cami: That’s a good ambition to have. I’ll want that too, eventually. I do have more sources, but they’re books and not available on the internet. But do mail be if you want the names at reeti.roy@gmail.com. I’d be happy to answer any questiions you might have. Also, if you’re interested you can read my article on Bamboo House India right here on Matador Change.

    @ H-Smitty: Great observation! And yea, the advantage with bamboo is that it grows a lot faster than trees.

  • http://www.adventurerob.com AdventureRob

    I surfed a bamboo raft in thailand: http://www.adventurerob.com/2009/06/thailand-jungle-trek-day3/

    It’s probably one of the greatest natural resources from this planet, this article only touches the surface on its uses.

  • http://www.cooperspick.com Baseball Pickers

    Ever thought about a bamboo baseball bat? I think that is really efficient and would save lumber as we could easily have commercial bamboo forests which take up less space.

  • http://www.bambootshirts.net/ bamboo t shirts

    i love your blog !

  • http://www.pandabeartshirt.com panda bear t shirt

    Great info! Thank for sharing !

  • http://www.eruptingmind.com/facial-skin-care-tips/ Losie

    thats amazing, i never knew bamboo had so many uses! Its a bit like hemp in that regard, hemp that loads of uses

  • http://WWW.GMAIL.COM DEEPTI GOSWAMI

    WOW BAMBOO BEER AND CLOTHES…….. I WANNA HAVE BOTH…

  • Hasan Qureshi

    it was my ptoject

  • Emmanuel Ifeanyi

    But I think, since bamboo has hollow shape that means it can be use as water pipes for conveying water.

  • John Kanyingi Thuku

    I am working on a bamboo cultivation project in ma village what assistance can I get from you? ma email is rejoh_2@yahoo.com.

    • Ken Matheka

      @ john kanyingi.. am proud of you. am intending to undertake research on bambooin construction industry by the end of the year. you seem of help. would yu be wiling to share your experiences on the plant to me? ma email kenmatheka@gmail.com.

  • Ken Matheka

    @ john kanyingi.. am proud of you. am intending to undertake research on bambooin construction industry by the end of the year. you seem of help. would yu be wiling to share your experiences on the plant to me? ma email kenmatheka@gmail.com.

  • Allyza Claire Mendoza

    is bamboo used to make papers?

  • Omenogor CoolSugar Ashionye

    Interesting and mind blowing…where in nigeria can we get bamboo…pls send answers to. Mike4live2001@yahoo.com

    • Chukwuka Enyioha

      bamboo can be found typically in the deep southwest. I used to have one bamboo tree at my backyard when I was growing up :P

    • Chukwuka Enyioha

      ;P

  • Tarique Khan

    Iam manufacturer ,wholesaler and distributors in india bamboo. We selling all types of indian bamboo. We selling in bulks quantity.
    Our motto : best quality of bamboo at cheaper price. And we can export too. Is anyone interested to make business with bamboo. So contact me on my email id : mbb36786@gmail.com. we are happy to help you.

  • Tarique Khan

    As soon we are making website too. http://www.indiabamboo.com . I hope so it will done in 10 days.

  • Tarique Khan

    Our company have 500 acres bamboo farm thats cultivated.

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