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Industry Insight

Going Green Two Sides Fast Fact #32

By Richard Romano
Published: November 19, 2012

WhatTheyThink’s Going Green has joined forces with Two Sides to help address the “perceptions” that paper destroys forests, that electronic media are “greener” than print and paper, and that recycling is the solution to all environmental ills. Last week, we posted about bamboo. A 2004 report by the World Conservation Monitoring Centre, sponsored by the UN Environment Program, was the first comprehensive mapping of the known species of bamboo—and found that “half the world’s 1,200 woody bamboo species, one of the planet’s most useful but least studied plants, face extinction because of forest destruction.” Why Should You Care? Bamboo is used today for a bewildering variety of products, from clothing, to flooring, to construction materials, to paper. However, thanks to the biology of the bamboo plant, it grows very quickly, but is not especially long-lived, especially compared to trees. “Individuals of each species flower once simultaneously every 20 to 100 years and then die.” The worldwide demand for bamboo has thus created a supply problem, and been responsible for overharvesting and the destruction of many bamboo forests. That much—or even some—of this demand is driven by seeking alternatives to wood fiber all in the name of sustainability seems to be just shifting the unsustainability from wood forests to bamboo forests. This is not to dissuade anyone from using bamboo, but I question the wisdom of decimating bamboo forests—and the ecosystems of which they are part—in the name of saving trees. Any crop can be responsibly or irresponsibly sourced, and it is irresponsible sourcing and management of that crop that makes something unsustainable. For more Two Sides facts see http://www.twosides.us/mythsandfacts.

Please offer your feedback to Richard. He can be reached at richard@whattheythink.com.



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