Bamboo

Sorry to disappoint. We don't / won't sell Bamboo. Here's why:

You could fill several pages with information on why Bamboo is a poor choice for flooring. Lack of durability, elimination of natural species in favor of bamboo farming, unsafe / unethical labor practices, harsh chemical adhesives used in every plank of flooring, embodied energy in bringing the product to market... The list goes on. Until someone convinces us otherwise, we're not about to jump on a trend we consider greenwashing

An antique or salvaged or sustainably harvested floor from Pioneer Millworks will be eco friendly, add far greater value to your project, and the materials will outlast Bamboo, saving you money on a new floor down the road. Plus, you'll feel much better using our flooring, knowing that your wood floor was fully sourced and manufactured from our very own shops in Upstate New York and McMinnville, OR, both staffed by some of the best craftsmen in the industry.

It's not just us. Here's a short article by Dr. Jim Bowyer for Dovetail Partners summarized and posted by Tree Hugger.com that nicely describes why we feel FSC reclaimed and fresh sawn are better choices.

It is clear that bamboo is not being managed in a sustainable fashion. It is true that it naturally regenerates, but forests are being cleared to grow it and it is becoming a monoculture. Although it is claimed that fertilizers are not necessary, in fact they are being used to increase yield. Research quoted in the report is shown on the right.

Bamboo Flooring Lacks Credible Certification
Dr Bowyer points out that there is nothing comparable to FSC Certification, ensuring that the forest has been harvested in a sustainable fashion. (We note that FSC looked at this last year but have not seen any certifed bamboo yet.)

Other Issues with Bamboo Flooring

  • There is no Fair Trade certification, ensuring that the workers have appropriate working conditions and wages. Considering that it grows like a weed and is being manufactured by rural Chinese workers, and yet sells at prices comparable to local hardwoods, someone is making huge margins on its current trendiness. We think it should be the workers.
  • Almost all bamboos have formaldehyde binders.
  • It's mostly shipped from China, which flies in the face of our obsessions with local sourcing and trade imbalances.

In Conclusion
Functionally, it is not intrinsically harder or better than traditional floors.

Choice of supplier is important. You can't just pull it off the lumberyard shelf and assume that it is a green product — you have to check out the source. And you have to trust them, as there appears to be no third-party certification process.

While there are benefits accruing from using a renewable resource, until one can find an FSC or equivalent approval rating, a Fair Trade seal, formaldehyde free, we and many others consider bamboo to be a false benefit, or greenwash.

 

“Recently, bamboo expansion has come at the expense of natural forests, shrubs, and low-yield mixed plantations... It is common practice to cut down existing trees and replace them with bamboo.”
“As forestlands tend to be in hilly and mountainous areas with steep slopes, clearcutting has resulted in an increase in erosion until the bamboo becomes fully established...”
“Natural forests in the vicinity of bamboo plantations have sometimes given way to bamboo as a result of deliberate efforts to replace them or because of the vigorous natural expansion of bamboo in logged over forests. This process has also had a negative impact on biodiversity.”
“The intensive management practices employed involve manual or chemical weeding and periodic tilling of the land to keep the soil clear of undergrowth. These practices increase erosion and result in single-species plantations over large areas.”
“The intensive use of chemicals (pesticides, weed killers and fertilizers) [associated with growing bamboo] also affects the environment...”