Bamboo is a remarkable and highly versatile natural resource. For many centuries it has been utilised in Asia in a range of uses, including in cooking, construction, transport, textiles and medicine. It is only relatively recently that the Western world has discovered how bamboo offers a wide range of benefits and an eco-friendly solution to many of our modern requirements. Bamboo is, quite simply, a wonderful, green resource that is hugely beneficial both to the way we want to live our lives and to the environment.
Bamboo is amazing – it is one of the fastest growing plants in the world. Once harvested, bamboo can replenish itself within a year and some species grow a whopping 120cm per day! It is a naturally prolific and resilient plant, which does not need fertilisers to boost its growth, or pesticides since bamboo is naturally pest-resistant. This marks it out from cotton or timber, which needs to be replanted at every harvest and requires extensive spraying and watering to achieve optimal growth.
- Eco friendly
Since bamboo requires no chemicals and very little water to grow, it is an environmental wonder-plant. As if this were not enough, bamboo absorbs more carbon dioxide from the air than either cotton or timber. It also releases more oxygen into the environment which improves air quality. Cotton farming, on the other hand, famously requires extensive irrigation and chemical spraying – a single cotton T-shirt can use up to 2700 litres of water in the growing process! Bamboo is by far the greener option.
Bamboo is 100% natural and biodegradable which gives conscientious consumers real peace of mind. Once you have no further use for a bamboo product you can rest easy, knowing that it will return to the Earth leaving minimal environmental impact. Plastic, on the other hand, will continue to clog up the ecosystem for the remainder of your lifetime, your children’s lifetime and your grandchildren’s lifetime. So much better to enjoy a product that has a small environmental footprint and leaves barely a trace.
- The making of bamboo fibres
So, how is it made? In order to produce high-quality bamboo fabric, a process must be used which uses sodium hydroxide, also known as caustic soda, to break down the ‘woody’ bamboo. Crushed bamboo is soaked in the chemical to produce cellulose. There is some concern that sodium hydroxide is a harmful chemical, but when used responsibly it has absolutely no effect on the environment and workers’ health. It is routinely used in the processing of organic cotton into fibre and is approved by the Global Organic Textile Standards (GOTS) and the Soil Association. It is also widely used in everything from soap production to food preparation. Moreover it does not remain as a residue on bamboo clothing since it easily washes away.
Ultimately, however, manufacturers are continuing to look into ever greener ways of producing bamboo fibre in the future. It may not be a 100% eco-friendly product from start to finish, but we firmly believe that it is currently the best choice of material that we can make.