The Extraordinary trip of bamboo
Why use bamboo?
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.
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.
How is bamboo manufactured ?
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.
Making Bamboo Fibre
Bamboo fibre can be used to make exceptional modern textiles. Our clothing, such as our bamboo socks, is made from 100% bamboo fibre and the fabric is also used in bed linen, duvet covers towels and much more. Bamboo can also be blended with cotton, hemp or even Lycra as required.
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.
Making Bamboo Hardwood/Ply
Bamboo can also be formed into a construction material when it is cut and then laminated into sheets and planks. This clever process entails cutting stalks of bamboo into thin strips, planing them flat, then boiling and drying the strips. Finally, they are then glued, pressed and finished. They have long been popular in China and Japan and have only caught on in the West since the mid-1990s. The highest quality bamboo laminate flooring is exceptionally durable and has even proven to be up to three times harder than oak, plus it can look very attractive when used as décor in the home.
What are the benefits of bamboo in clothing ?
Soft, silky and luxurious to the touch - Envelop yourself in truly unparalleled comfort.
Hypoallergenic - The eco-friendly bamboo fibres do not irritate the skin. Gentler than many manmade fibres, bamboo is a natural solution for those with sensitive skin.
More absorbent than cotton - Helps to wick moisture away from the skin.
UV protective - Protect you and your loved ones from the sun’s rays in comfort.
Breathable and thermo-regulating - Stay comfortable whatever the weather; keeps you cool in summer and warm in winter.
Biodegradable - A greener material that will simply return to the Earth.
Bamboo is an extremely resilient and durable fibre. At the same time it can feel beautifully soft and pleasant to the touch. When compared in studies to cotton and polyester, it has been found to be stronger, have better moisture wicking properties and better moisture absorption than the more commonplace Western materials. When bamboo fabric is used in clothing it is:
How are bamboo products regulated ?
All bamboo fibre produced for use in clothing and so on has to be Oeko-Tex 100 certified. Oeko-Tex is a global certification that allows consumers to easily identify textile products that pose no risk to human health.
Oeko-Tex 100 certified fibre has been found to contain no trace chemicals that pose any health threat whatsoever. It is common knowledge that the harmful chemicals can enter the body through skin contact and during the 1990s it was common practice for some manufacturers to use harmful substances when making clothing.
And so the globally recognised Oeko-Tex 100 Standard was introduced, giving consumers reassurance about their choice of textile products. Oeko-Tex® provides the standards and the tests necessary to screen textiles for substances that include:
preservative ingredients like pentachlorophenol and tetrachlorophenol
synthetic compounds and allergy-inducing dyestuffs.
The Oeko-Tex certification also tests for things like pH-value and colourfastness, which helps to safeguard consumers' health.
In order to be able to display the Oeko-Tex label on their products and marketing material, manufacturers have to comply with a range of tests across all stages of production - from raw materials to end products and all the processes in between. The certificate is renewable on a yearly basis but can be revoked if the manufacturer fails to comply with the Oeko-Tex standards.
How can I be sure that what I am buying is free from harmful chemicals?
Look out for the Oeko “Confidence in Textiles” seal of quality the next time that you make a purchase. You can rest assured that these products have been manufactured with your well-being in mind.