***This is the original place I looked for info. The couple who makes these boxes are simply some of the most talented pair of carpenters I have ever seen. He mentions his reasons for not using bamboo in his work, and also mentions why I can't find ANYONE credible who does for projects.***
"No, I don't make bamboo cutting boards, and neither, as far as I know, does anybody in the US. Yes, they're rather attractive, and very cheap, but as is so often the case, you get what you pay for. What particularly bothers me is that people think they're doing the ecologically correct thing in buying bamboo instead of wood. Consider the following: the vast majority of bamboo products come from China, not exactly known for its sound ecosystem management. Most Chinese bamboo comes from monoculture plantations that destroy biological diversity. Bamboo's hardness depends on its silica content, so bamboo will either mark up easily, or if it's hard enough to not mark up easily, it will quickly dull your knife's edges. Bamboo products rely on large quantities of glue to hold them together, as the pieces are far smaller than anyone would make a wood cutting board from. China has recently been discovered to be selling lead painted toys in the US market, and plastic tainted wheat gluten in pet food. Do you want to be cutting your food on bamboo held together with gobs of mystery glue? For a detailed discussion of the merits and demerits of bamboo as a wood substitute visit this link."
***This is his citation and the first place I started looking. There is much more out there, but I'm not going to put it all up.***
Is Bamboo Flooring really green?
Tipster Brad installed a bamboo floor and says “The environmental benefits are great, but the flooring itself is awful”. We have had mixed experiences with it ourselves and decided to look more closely.
Before we look at the environmental issues, let's look at its utility- is it all it is cracked up to be? One of the major benefits touted by vendors is how hard and tough it is. It’s Not. The popular carbonized darker bamboos are comparable to Black Walnut, considered a soft hardwood, and the lighter natural colours test comparable to maple. (colour is achieved not by staining but by heating, and the longer it heats the softer it gets) It is like any wood floor- it is damaged by dents, scratches and the killer of all wood floors, high heels. Jazzy aluminum oxide finish or not, it is a natural material that should not be marketed as being harder or more durable than conventional wood flooring. (::Hardwoodinstaller.com)
Is Bamboo Flooring Environmentally Better?
Bamboo flooring can be green...
There is no question that bamboo is a renewable resource- it is a grass and grows very quickly. Where oak takes 120 years to grow to maturity, bamboo can be harvested in three. It is recognized as a green material under LEED and as they said in Environmental Building News, “Environmentally, it’s hard to argue with a wood substitute that matures in three years, regenerates without need for replanting, and requires minimal fertilization or pesticides.”
From a social perspective, 6 million people in China work in bamboo and 600 million people worldwide rely on income from it.
...but it isn't as green as it could be
However it is clear that bamboo is not necessarily 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:
“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 . . .”
SPARKNOTES: Using bamboo as a wood substitute may do more harm than good in the long run at the current rate of substitution.