Domestic Bamboo Cultivation: Miracle Cure for US Agricultural Economy?

Bamboo is often held up as this sustainable wonder plant, able to grow quickly, not require pesticides, and absorb a heap of CO2 as it grows – 4 times as much as hardwood trees, while putting out 35% more oxygen.
But there’s a problem: It’s gotten so popular that the stock is getting depleted faster then it can be grown. The U.N. estimates that up to half the 1200 species of bamboo are either endangered or extinct from over harvesting. And it comes almost entirely from China, India, and other far away places, potentially negating or exceeding the carbon reduction it achieved while growing. The US being the world’s biggest importer of bamboo products, that’s a problem.
Then comes the stumbling block: Bamboo doesn’t grow domestically. At least not the kinds that are used in making the flooring, towels, clothing, etc. that so many of us have become fond of. Or so the story goes. If Booshoot Gardens has its way, that story will be changing soon.


They are able to clone original, un-genetically modified bamboo plants, turning what was a few thousand plants into several million. What’s the significance of this? Creating new bamboo plants from scratch is a long process, and with increasing demand, there isn’t time. With Booshoot Gardens already begun shoots, a farmer could plant and once again be reaping the benefits, while we all do via its atmospheric positive benefits as it grows.
In a compelling short video, CEO Jackie Heinricher makes a strong case for all of this, including that the Mississippi Delta, a cotton focused region whose agricultural focus, cotton, has been eaten away by cheaper suppliers in other countries, is ideal for growing the most desirable species of bamboo, to its full height.
In doing this, they could domestically supply the huge US market, create jobs in an economically depressed region, and massively reduce water and pesticide use, as compared to the resource hog that is cotton.
The question that remains is, can we find a way to create these value added products from bamboo while minimizing chemicals used to create them?
Readers: What’s your take on bamboo, and creating products from it? Is swapping cotton for bamboo doable, desirable? Why? Would you specifically buy US made bamboo products?
Paul Smith is a sustainable business innovator, the founder of GreenSmith Consulting, and has an MBA in Sustainable Management from Presidio School of Management in San Francisco. He creates interest in, conversations around, and business for green (and greening) companies, via social media. Who he has and wants to work with includes consumer, media, clean tech, NGOs, social ventures, and museums.

Paul Smith is a sustainable business innovator, the founder of GreenSmith Consulting, and has an MBA in Sustainable Management from Presidio Graduate School in San Francisco. He creates interest in, conversations about, and business for green (and greening) companies, via social media marketing. || ==> For more, see GreenSmithConsulting.com