by Craig Blake
Bamboo is touted for being strong and inexpensive, but there is more to bamboo furniture that is now catching the public eye: Bamboo is renewable. Bamboo furniture is a stylish and inexpensive way to go green, especially in the home. You may have considered going green but you weren't sure where to begin. This bamboo furniture buying guide will show you how to buy bamboo furniture, how to care for bamboo and the simple ways bamboo can help you become more environmentally friendly.
Bamboo and the environment: Bamboo is a renewable plant, technically a grass, and is often considered a weed. Bamboo is found on nearly every continent and can grow in many diverse climates. Bamboo is eaten, made into fabrics, used for building materials, made into paper, used in construction and in making green furniture and decorative accessories. In fact, bamboo has been used for construction and furniture longer than hardwoods.
When cut, bamboo will send up new shoots to replace those lost. Bamboo is ready to be harvested in about five years, unlike many hardwoods which take 50 or more years to grow to cutting size. This makes bamboo a very renewable material and the fastest growing plant on Earth. Bamboo doesn't even need fertilizers, pesticides or herbicides to thrive.
Bamboo furniture: Bamboo is used to make a variety of furniture. You can find bamboo chairs and tables, bamboo beds, bamboo headboards, bamboo cabinets, bamboo bar stools, dressers and entertainment centers, to name a few. Bamboo rugs, bamboo shirts, bamboo flooring, bamboo sheets and bamboo fencing are even available.
Buying bamboo: Knowing which bamboo furniture pieces to buy isn't difficult. If you're buying bamboo for ecological reasons or just for looks and quality, here are a few tips:
Look for furniture with real bamboo and not just bamboo look-alikes or faux bamboo furniture.
Look for furniture that states it is made with sustainable bamboo (bamboo grown and harvested naturally that remains sustainable).
If furniture includes bamboo veneers, check to see that the glue used is nontoxic.
Look for bamboo furniture using water-based stains.
A good clue to the quality of the bamboo is where the furniture was made. Many artisans from small villages and communities make bamboo furniture and have been for generations.
Caring for your bamboo furniture: Bamboo furniture can be used indoors and outdoors, but when you use it outdoors, it is important to perform regular maintenance, as with any other outdoor furniture. Keep your bamboo furniture clean following the same guidelines as with other hardwoods; however, you should pay particular attention to avoiding moisture. Following these tips should keep your bamboo furniture in tip-top shape for years.
Wash furniture with a solution of water and mild detergent regularly, at least every few months.
Outdoor and indoor furniture should be washed with an anti-mildew additive once every six months or more if you live in a humid climate. Eco-friendly cleaning solutions are available.
Clean up spills immediately.
Dust your bamboo furniture regularly.
Adding bamboo furniture to existing furniture and home decor: Start small; you don't have to furnish your entire home with eco-friendly bamboo furniture. Chances are your home decor isn't tropical or Asiatic or whatever other style you imagine would work with bamboo. Don't worry; bamboo furniture isn't all styled after Asian designs. Bamboo furniture is very popular right now, which means that you can find many styles that will blend with your existing furniture. Choose a few bamboo accent pieces, like coffee, sofa and end tables, or some bamboo shades or decorations.