Are bamboo floors really green?

Alternatives to Bamboo Floors

Another renewable source you can choose for your flooring is cork, which can be stripped from the tree without killing it.
Another renewable source you can choose for your flooring is cork, which can be stripped from the tree without killing it.
Don Klumpp/Photographer’s Choice/Getty Images

If you're having second thoughts about bamboo flooring but still want an environmentally friendly way to walk through your home, there are alternatives.

One option growing in popularity is cork. It's considered a renewable source because stripping the bark of the cork tree does not kill it. Cork floors also are made of the waste material of the cork. The original material is used for the corks found in bottles; the discarded material is then ground up to be used as flooring material. To learn more about cork production, see Where does cork come from?

However, cork has its flaws too. For example, it doesn't mimic the look of hardwood floors the way that bamboo does, so there's an aesthetic issue. And cork is grown in Mediterranean climates, so there's still the issue of transportation [source: Novitski].

Other alternatives to bamboo and hardwood floors include:

  • recycled wood
  • linoleum
  • tile
  • wool carpeting
  • straw
  • earthen floors
  • cement

­­Each of these has their own benefits -- tile is strong, earthen floors use the materials already on site. But each has their own downsides, too -- wool is often imported from New Zealand and cement is very unforgiving for household living. And many of these methods are still relatively new in U.S. homes, so finding the materials and labor may be as costly -- economically and environmentally -- as traditional floors.

As a consumer, probably your best chance for a green floor is to research what's available in your area and balance that with the cost and aesthetic values. To learn about more green flooring options, take a walk through the links below.

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More Great Links


  • Aho, Karen. "Is bamboo flooring really green?" MSN Real Estate. Accessed Aug. 25, 2008.
  • "Bamboo Flooring." Build It Green. Aug. 11, 2007. Accessed Aug. 25, 2008.
  • "Bamboo products and trade." Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Accessed Aug. 25, 2008.
  • Bowyer, Jim, Jeff Howe, Phil Guillery and Kathryn Fernholz. "Bamboo Flooring: Environmental Silver Bullet or Faux Savior?" March 15, 2005. Accessed Aug. 25, 2008.
  • Center for International Forestry Research. Accessed Sept. 3, 2008.
  • Environmental Bamboo Foundation. Accessed Aug. 25, 2008.
  • Forest Stewardship Council. Accessed Sept. 3, 2008.
  • International Network for Bamboo and Rattan. Accessed Aug. 25, 2008.
  • Novitski, B.J. "Rapidly Renewable Materials' Complex Calculus." Continuing Education. Vol. 260 No. 14.
  • Treehugger. Accessed Aug. 25, 2008.
  • U.S. Green Building Council. Accessed Sept. 3, 2008.