Bamboozled: 15 Bizarre Built-From-Bamboo Products

image via Bamboo Revolution
(image via Bamboo Revolution)

Bamboo is more than panda food or decor for tropically themed bars.  Because it grows at an exceedingly fast rate, this sturdy weed is the ultimate renewable resource.  Some young bamboo plants have been clocked shooting upwards at 2 feet per day.  Add the bend-but-not-break characteristic of bamboo and its easy to see why people in East and South Asia have been relying on it to make everything from broom handles to bridges.  Bamboo is still used in these traditional ways, but it has found its way into mainstream products as well.

Bamboo Computers

image via Asus
(image via Asus)
Bamboo and computers?  Is this pairing anything more than a gimmick aimed at tech savvy greenies?  Putting a bamboo casing on a laptop is enough to make MacBook owners shake their head at  brittle, fingerprinted polycarb exterior of their machines.  The Bamboo Concept by Asus has a casing that is not only durable and biodegradable, its natural hued color is quite comely.

(image via Dell Digital Media)

Dell went a step further along the eco-friendly computing path, unveiling a small, bamboo encased computer that is as green on the inside as it is on the surface.  The system is made from 70% recycled materials.

Standing up to a Truck

(images via Eurekalert and BBC)

The bamboo bridge that was recently built in Hunan Province was the work of USC PhD Yan Xiao, who has been developing designs for foot-bridges and vehicle bridges made from bamboo.  The  span, built in the remote Leiyang Village, is sturdy enough to facilitate a fully loaded truck.  Yan is a proponent of bamboo as a heavy duty building material because of its ready availability and cheap price in rural China.

Bamboo is not as easily attainable in Newcastle, England.  Nonetheless, a temporary footbridge was built over the Tyne River by an Australian construction company.  Though it was a “just for show” span, it introduced bamboo into a country where steel and cement are considered the only trustworthy bridge-building materials.

Folding Bamboo Houses

image via Ecoscraps(image via ecoscraps)

Ming Tang designed a series of folding bamboo houses that could be used as a portable alternative to tents.  Developed in response to the 2008 Sichuan earthquakes, the structures, which rely on a series of bamboo poles to support a roof, are highly portable.  The graceful design brings to mind classic oragami.

Bamboo Art

image via Art Radar Asiaimage via Art Radar Asia

The New Bamboo: Contemporary Japanese Masters exhibit which just wrapped up in New York, showed that bamboo art goes far beyond painted or etched cylenders that can doule as pencil holders.  The unusual sculptures are nothing like tradition would dictate, with thin strands of bamboo and light-weight designs combining to make something truly unusual.

Bamboo Scaffolding

image via Ioan Sameli(image via Ioan Sameli)

Perhaps the most amazing use of bamboo is not as a building material, but as a construction aid.  Bamboo scaffolding is a cheap alternative to metal.  Throughout Eastern and Southern Asia, construction projects come with a bizarre, all encompassing exoskeleton.  It might seem rather precarious – such a slender structure rising hundreds of feet in the air, but, even after hundreds of years, there is nothing cheaper and sturdier in the construction game.

Bamboo Wheels

carbike-bambooimages via American Bamboo Society and Sina

A bamboo concept car made the rounds of Japan’s showrooms late last year.  There is absolutely nothing road-ready about it, but at 132 pounds, the electric vehicle is decidedly on the light side, and can get 30-miles on a single charge.  These pint-sized, eco-friendly vehicles wont be clogging Japan’s roadways anytime soon, but the idea of bamboo as a lightweight material could be useful for future fuel efficiency.

Bamboo and bicycles are a more practical match than bamboo and odd Japanese concept cars.  A Danish bicycle-maker in the town of Christiania has been learning, from trial and error, how to make bike frames with treated bamboo. There two-wheelers are not much as far as beauty goes, but they are lightweight and probably earn their riders plenty of stares on the street.

Wearable Bamboo

wearable-bamboo (images via Islandez and Green Daily)

Bamboo clothing?  Surely you are thinking of some sort of bastardization on the grass skirt.  Not so.  Using bamboo fibers, specialty textile makers have been using the versatile plant to weave fabric for quite some time now.  Bamboo Clothing in Hong Kong makes everything from briefs to bath towels to faux denim using pure bamboo, bamboo/cotton or bamboo/spandex  hybrids.

Renewable is not one of the adjectives you want with your eyeglasses.  I’m sure, most near-sided folks prefer adjectives like durable and non-toxic.  Well, Bamboo eyeglasses fit that description.  It might take a little while to get used to the idea of wood sitting on the bridge of your nose, but at least it is not a brittle and breakable as plastic.

Bamboo Sports Equipment

bamboo-skateimage via bamboo putters and bamboosk8

While they are rather rare in the days of synthetic, super-light-weight drivers, a few sporting goods companies still make golf clubs with bamboo shafts.  Some of the bamboo has been treated for several decades before it finds its way into a golf bag.  You won’t find any bamboo skateboards on the golf course, but the wood has the right amount of pliability for peak performance on the half-pipe or in the skate park.  The fibers are prepared by being pressed under great pressure.  This leads to the perfect hybrid of stiffness and flexibility that skaters pine for.  On the environmental side, bamboo grows much faster than the hardwoods (like maple) that are used to make most skateboard decks.

Bamboo Trophy

image via Concertothefilm Blogimage via Concertothefilm Blog

Filipino independent cinema’s best films have been awarded a trophy called the Bamboo Camera since 2005.  The extremely biodegradable (and flammable?) hardware is doled out at the Cinemalaya Film Festival each January.  Perhaps Oscar-happy Hollywood, with all its talk of hybrid vehicles and rainforests, should take note of this earth-friendly award.