Throughout the world, bamboo and hemp are used in hundreds of ways. They are amazing alternatives for wood, coal, and oil, so why are we chopping down so many trees?
Two of nature’s resources are often compared. Bamboo and hemp are in some ways strikingly different, although they do have a lot in common. Because of their similarities the question often comes up: Which is better?
Bamboo and hemp both have a long history and have remarkable features in the way they grow. Both hemp and bamboo grow easily and abundantly. Trees do not need to be cut down for lumber, making both a plus to deforestation. In fact, using more hemp and bamboo can save trees and forests.
As a sustainable alternative to cotton, hemp and bamboo both grow very easily without pesticides and herbicides. Cotton, on the other hand, is one of the most chemical-intensive crops cultivated.
Overall, hemp and bamboo are both very fast growing and resistant to pests. Hemp is an annual crop and is planted early in the year, harvested late in the year and replanted the following year. Most hemp farmers rotate it with things like beans, wheat, or alfalfa, to keep the soil healthy.
Bamboo is a perennial grass, not a tree. This means you don’t have to replant it. Bamboo’s rhizome roots spread so quickly that it can be difficult to contain. After harvesting bamboo, it grows right back, like the grass that might grow in your front yard, it comes back stronger and healthier after a good trimming.
Bamboo naturally grows in huge swaths. A natural bamboo forest will look almost identical to a cultivated bamboo farm. The bamboo grows thick, crowding out weeds and other plants, and its fallen leaves serve to nourish the soil.
Hemp and bamboo both grow big and strong without the need for fertilizers, herbicides, or pesticides. Bamboo, in fact, is among the fastest growing plants on earth. It’s common for commercial varieties to grow 1-ft. a day in the growing season. And tropical varieties, in ideal conditions, can grow 2 or 3 times that much. Only certain types of seaweed grow faster.
So in terms of renewability and sustainability, bamboo and hemp come in as a tie. Both plants grow voraciously without the need for heavy spraying. And both crops can recapture sizable amounts of carbon, critical in the battle against climate change.
Hemp has the advantage of rotating nicely with other food crops. While bamboo -- if managed responsibly -- can be harvested from natural forests in the wild, with minimal disruption to habitat.
Bamboo and hemp are two similarly remarkable plants. Each can grow virtually anywhere and they replace the need for oil, coal, and wood. Bamboo and hemp are used more than 50,000 products throughout the world. Sustainable and eco-friendly, bamboo and hemp are two of Earth’s plant wonders.
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