The inaugural Singapore EcoFriend Awards night was held last Thursday and the results splashed all over the local media the following day. Organised by the National Environmental Agency (NEA), the EcoFriend Awards honour 15 individuals who have made a difference in our fledgling environmental movement (click here for NEA’s press release).

But one individual deservedly got much of the attention.



The big news last weekend in Singapore was the announcement by S Iswaran, Singapore’s Minister of State for Trade and Industry that the F1 carnival is finally coming to our shores.

F1 is the most un-green sport today. Today’s Straits Times newspaper carried an article with some fascinating nuggets of information to show just how polluting it is:

  • Each F1 car burns up to a litre of fuel and releases 1,500g of carbon dioxide per km, which contributes to an estimated 10 tonnes of CO2 per race weekend.
  • The mooted night race format requires an estimated 500 energy-sapping high-intensity light poles.
  • F1 car engines are loud enough to be heard literally half way across Singapore, or shatter glass windows of nearby buildings.

Coincidentally, S Iswaran was also the Guest-of-Honour at the prize-awarding ceremony for the Eco Products International Fair (EPIF) 2006 where Star Bamboo won the Silver Medal for our bamboo flooring:

EPIF 2006 award ceremony

The EPIF and F1 are at opposite ends of the eco-friendliness scale, but there is one common link.

From the outset, the Singapore government has cited commercial reasons for courting F1: tourism receipts, branding of Singapore as a cosmopolitan and glamourous city to 500 million television viewers, and jobs creation.

That is why the Singapore government has committed itself to spending up to S$90m per year for the F1 race. If green businesses were ever to enjoy this level of support, we would have to demonstrate the same kind of ROI.

After all, it’s just business.

I get asked this a lot, “Why is bamboo flooring considered an eco-friendly product?”.

Even Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, Singapore’s Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, asked me that question when we won the Silver Medal at the Eco Products International Fair in 2006.

Dr Yaacob (right) and I sharing a light-hearted moment at EPIF2006.
To the left is Dr Amy Khor, Senior Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources.

Bamboo flooring is eco-friendly because it is made from one of the world’s most renewable building materials.

There are over 1,000 species of bamboo all around the world.

We use a particular species of bamboo called Moso (“毛竹” in Chinese), which commonly found in bamboo mountains of Southern China near our factory.

This Moso bamboo matures astonishingly quickly. In just 4 to 6 years, it is ready to be harvested for production. This is also when the quality of the bamboo culm is at its peak. The quality actually drops as the bamboo ages.

Compare this to the decades typically required for hardwood trees to mature, and your choice is clear.

Why does bamboo grow so fast? It’s because it’s technically a grass, and not a tree. It’s so fast that some species have been recorded to grow at a rate of 4 feet per day!

As a bonus, it doesn’t even require replanting. The bamboo forests are inter-connected by an underground network of nodes, and new shoots will grow after harvesting.

All this means that you can enjoy beautiful hardwood floors with a clear conscience that you are not harming our natural environment.

No wonder bamboo is truly the eco-champion of building materials.