Want to choose a floor that is green? Looking for an environmentally friendly alternative when replacing your floors? Then you may have found the concept of bamboo flooring appealing.
Bamboo is renewable resource; it is a grass that can grow very quickly. While it may take an oak tree 120 years to grow to maturity, bamboo can be harvested in three. Bamboo is also recognized as a green material under LEED, and will regenerate without the need for replanting, requires minimal fertilization or pesticides.
The problem lies with bamboo’s management.
Bamboo is primarily a resource that comes from China. And depending on the manufacturer, bamboo expansion has come at the expense of existing natural forested land. It’s become a common practice to cut down existing trees to make room for bamboo. And even in some cases where bamboo is expanded up to forests, due to the aggressive nature of bamboo, it can quickly take over large areas.
Forest lands tend to be hilly and mountainous with steep slopes. As they are sheared down to make way for bamboo, erosion takes place until it becomes fully established, further degrading the surrounding areas.
Because management practices focus in on quick turnaround and massive growth, extensive fertilization, manual and chemical weeding, as well as periodic tilling of the land have also decreased the undergrowth surrounding the area, and increased erosion over large areas of land.
Does all of this mean you shouldn’t consider bamboo as a flooring option?
No. What it does mean is that you should be aware of where your bamboo flooring is manufactured. If you see a too-good-to-be-true deal on bamboo flooring, it probably is.
Make sure bamboo is certified to the standards of the Forest Stewardship Council so that it meets certain requirements for social responsibility.
You can also look for manufacturers outside of China. While the majority of bamboo still comes from China, other manufacturers are starting up in other Asian countries and are adhering to stricter guidelines.
If you have any questions, be sure to ask your flooring dealer before you make your final decision.