Is Bamboo Really Eco-Friendly?

Jim Williams
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Buying Guides

Bamboo, a raw material, is a very popular flooring choice appreciated for its versatility, uniqueness, and beauty. Compared to synthetic flooring options like laminate and carpet, bamboo offers a more natural flooring option with benefits that extend beyond its beauty - its sustainability. Bamboo flooring is more renewable than other natural materials - even stone and hardwood. Why? We’ll tell you:

Bamboo’s Low Carbon Footprint

The United States Green Building Council's LEED program credits the use of bamboo floors by virtue of it being a rapidly-renewable resource. Bamboo is a grass; however unlike most grasses, bamboo hardens to a level that is equal or greater than many hardwoods. And, like most grasses, bamboo grows very quickly. It can take a traditional tree like walnut or oak (used for hardwood flooring) up to 100 years to fully mature. If a hardwood tree forest is harvested, it can take decades to regenerate. On the other hand, bamboo can be re-harvested as frequent as every three to five years. What’s more, harvesting bamboo is actually good for the bamboo plant’s root system, which stays intact during its harvest. Bamboo can sequester up to 70 percent more carbon per year than a hardwood forest.

Additionally, a bamboo forest does not need irrigation, pesticides, or fertilizer. (Bamboo’ natural properties deter pests, so pesticides are not required.)

Opponents Say...

Bamboo flooring is not regulated the way natural stone and hardwood are. Because it is a fairly new flooring and home product, there are no fair trade regulations to ensure bamboo workers are fairly treated. Additionally, many bamboo planks are treated with chemicals that can emit low levels of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) into the air. The combination of non-regulation and clean air concerns make some consumers steer away from bamboo flooring.

Buying Tips

As a consumer, the best thing you can do to ensure you are purchasing bamboo that is high-quality product from a reputable manufacturer. Do your research, read customer reviews, and even go as far to request a sample square so you can evaluate its quality before you invest in multiple square feet. Make sure your flooring investment is one that is as durable and quality as it is eco-friendly.