Anyone know why bamboo is becoming so popular? As we've seen in Bamboo, Part I, it's a total bitch to process, so why not stick with wood?
The short answer is it's green, sustainable, strong, plentiful, and profitable. As it has been for a while--people have been using it for millenia to make furniture, weapons, tools, water-bearing systems, clothing from the fibers, and you can even eat the stuff (good source of low-calorie potassium, who knew).
The long answer of why bamboo is good is as follows:
Green: It's the fastest-growing plant you can use to reforest an area, and it produces 35% more oxygen than an equally-sized batch of trees.
Sustainable: Unlike trees which need to be cut down, bamboo can be harvested without damaging the original plant, and it then regenerates in three to five years. None of this waiting-around-for-30-years for your reforestation project to kick in.
Strong: Harder than maple but lighter than oak, the tensile strength of bamboo is comparable to steel.
Plentiful: A stand of bamboo can generate around 200 poles in five years--the same length of time it takes one tree to grow big enough to cut down.
Profitable: Bamboo is essentially grass, and it grows way faster than trees--some varieites of bamboo can grow four feet in a day. For a lumber harvester, the yield can be 25 times what you'd get from regular ol' trees.
The chief threat to this wondrous and bountiful plant is the fearsome Panda bear, but environmentalists will be happy to know we've done a pretty good job of stamping those little buggers out.