Bamboo is considered a green building material, but some environmentalists have questioned how green it really is. It seems to fit the definition of a sustainable material. It doesn’t even require re-planting. Once matured enough to use as a building material, bamboo can replace itself in just three years. Still, some say it’s not nearly as green as its purported to be. So, let’s examine this opposing view.

Environmentalists say that this building material has been in such high demand that China and man East Asian countries have leveled natural forestland in order to plant bamboo. They say that this has drastic consequences on the ecosystem and destroys wildlife habitats. They say it has even affected indigenous villages. Reportedly, the enormous demand has made it so that native plants aren’t able to grow as they normally would. If bamboo were harvested from a natural forest, it would be different they say. Yet, reportedly, the demand is so high that it required leveling these mature forests for the cultivation of new bamboo forests designed for the sole purpose of harvesting the material for construction uses.

Environmentalists say that even though bamboo can grow easily without hormones and pesticides, cultivators still use these chemicals because the bamboo grows even faster and taller when they are used. Reportedly, the chemicals that are used in the cultivation of bamboo does not meet international standards for organic materials. These chemicals, as any used in such quantity do, risk causing run-off that can harm the surrounding water and land. The difference between bamboo and food cultivation is that bamboo isn’t a regulated product, so there is no standard in place to monitor the chemical usage.

In Midland, we certainly understand that just because products claim to be environmentally friendly doesn’t mean they really are when the bigger picture is taken into consideration. Environmentalists look to reclaimed wood as a better option, since it implements material reuse. Reusing is always greener than both recycling or sustainable farming.  We’re certainly not telling you to use or not use bamboo flooring. We just want to make sure that our eco-minded homeowners are aware that there is another side of the story of bamboo as a green building material.

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