In this study, we fabricated ZnO nanostructures using bamboo fibers as templates. The starting material used was zinc acetate, and the nanostructures were synthesized by soaking and calcining the bamboo fibers. The fabricated nanostructures were characterized using X-ray powder diffraction (XRD) analysis, scanning electron microscopy (SEM), and ultraviolet-visible spectrophotometry. The results showed that the size of the ZnO nanoparticles was approximately 20–100 nm. When the ZnO nanoparticles were used as the catalyst in the photodegradation of methyl orange, the dye degraded by 95.98 % in 80 min. The response and recovery times of a gas sensor based on the ZnO nanoparticles were 25 and 24 s, respectively, during the detection of C2H5OH in a concentration of 10 ppm at 270 °C.