We just returned Friday from Anji, Zhejiang province, China, home of some of the best-known bamboo forests in China. We were there with our 8th grade, doing outdoor activities, otherwise known as “Camp.” The kids had a great time hiking in the bamboo forest, rafting, and, in the town of Anji, doing some shopping for bamboo products.
Bamboo is an amazing plant. We saw it being harvested, loaded on trucks, and hauled to the bamboo mills in Anji, where it was processed into all sorts of products. The bamboo industry almost resembles the lumber industry in Maine, although cutting it does not require chain saws, hauling it out does not require skidders, and getting it to the mills doesn’t need such big trucks; but there still are many similarities. It is processed using kilns to dry it for various uses. It is made into many of the same things wood is made into.
One thing we saw all over the place were almost sheaf-like gatherings of bamboo standing and drying in the sun. They resembled the old wheat sheaves, that you would see in harvesting wheat 100 years ago.
We asked what these were going to be used for, and we were told, “Chop sticks!” These would be turned into the little chop sticks you get in bags when you eat in Chinese restaurants here, or around the world. These sheaves would become millions and millions of new chop sticks. This is just one use of bamboo we learned about.
We knew that bamboo could be eaten for food. We knew that it is used in the building industry for flooring.
We knew that they make bamboo furniture.
There are bamboo cutting boards,
and bamboo cooking spoons. One of the things that they make out of bamboo, that we were unaware of, is clothing. A wonderful soft cloth is woven of bamboo fibers to make tee-shirts,scarves,and even underwear!
We bought some and found it amazingly soft and comfortable!
It also was reasonably priced. Perhaps there are a pair of bamboo underwear in your future! Barbara already swears by them!
When we were in Bangladesh 10 years ago, the jute plant was called Bangladesh’s “Golden Fiber,” as it had so many uses and its color was gold. Perhaps bamboo should be called China’s “Emerald Fiber,” as it is just as versatile!