Is the role of bamboo as a leading edge natural resource a development of modern times?A couple Google searches with the word “bamboo” will tell any casual observer that a popular movement of sorts is upon us. Often, it seems, the virtues of this utilitarian commodity lie at the intersection of so many important modern issues that one can hardly be blamed for feeling like the “bamboo revolution” is something new, something cutting edge.
In fact, bamboo has been utilized for thousands of years in regions ranging from the New World to Asia. In addition to its more obvious uses--building materials and tools--bamboo has also provided medicine, fuel and food to incalculable numbers throughout the ages. The earliest uses date back at least 5,000 years to China. No surprise there. But interestingly enough, bamboo probably played a large role in the origin of written language in the Far East. As the most important product in book and paper making in those days, modern language owes a debt of gratitude to bamboo, as its durability allowed for a wider spread of information and ideas. To the ancient Chinese, one could argue that bamboo represented the equivalent of what the world wide web is today, albeit in a smaller world.
With its role in the “olden days” as a resource of extensive versatility, one can only imagine the coveted treatment this plant received from the average man, woman and child. It seems fitting, then, that now, in the 21st Century, we find bamboo products measuring so well against such a vast array of contemporary concerns. Sustainability, the environment, globalization, aesthetic beauty, style, cost, logistics, custom capability, and the list goes on. After thousands of years of use, we’ve come full circle. Perhaps, what was good for us then is not so different from what’s good for us now.