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Think Like A Panda

With more than 1,000 different species, bamboo has been providing material for food, construction, decoration, paper, musical instruments and countless other uses since humans figured out how versatile this woody plant really was.

Largely found in East Asia, Australia and the Himalayas, some bamboo plants can grow more than a meter a day. With so many ways to use it and a seemingly endless supply, the aesthetically pleasing bamboo plant has become a favorite material among humans - especially those with a flair for home decorating.

"I think people like the natural aesthetic that bamboo provides," says Chris Barrett, owner of The Travelled Home, a retailer of ethnically inspired home decor. "Bringing nature indoors can bring a sense of calm and tranquility into the home."

In the past few years, Barrett says, there's been a surge of interest in bamboo and other alternative materials. "As the world becomes smaller, people are becoming more interested in their neighbors," he says.

And those "neighbors" have some pretty nifty ideas when it comes to working bamboo into the home.

Ruth Graham, a publishing professional in New York says the beauty of bamboo is its versatility. "Bamboo is durable, attractive, versatile and relatively inexpensive," she says. "It can take on a vast array of looks with the application of lacquer, stain or varnish. Bamboo flooring and wall treatments are becoming really popular."

"I would recommend simple items, such as a large bamboo floor vase or a bamboo picture frame," Barrett says. "Bamboo placemats and bamboo salad bowl sets are also a great way to incorporate the socially conscious material into your dinnerware."

Indeed, bamboo is one way to go "green" when beautifying your home. Since bamboo grows so fast, it's a seriously renewable resource.

"In an age where logging is destroying many natural resources, bamboo can provide a viable alternative to hardwoods," Barrett says. "Some bamboo species grow over 2 feet per day, making it one of the most highly renewable resources on the planet."

Think Like A Panda