Saturday, January 3, 2009

The New Grass Skirt: Bamboo fabric

Bamboo fabric is a natural textile made from the pulp of the bamboo grass, the fastest growing plant in the world, growing to maximum height in about three months. It spreads rapidly across large areas.

Bamboo fabric is growing in popularity because it has unique properties and is more "sustainable" than most textile fibers. As a grass, bamboo is cut instead of uprooted. Bamboo can grow on hill slopes where nothing else is viable. The yield from an acre of bamboo is ten times greater than the yield from cotton. Bamboo fabric is very soft and heavily absorbent.

This “miracle fiber” is purported to be “1-2 degrees cooler than normal apparels, "green" without “any pollution,” and retains “70% anti-bacterial properties” even after 50 washings.
While I think that it is possible that bamboo fabric has a wonderful feel and has a potential to be sustainable, I question all these claims by the manufacturers.

I suspect that an enormous amount of water is used in the fiber making process as the bamboo needs to be heavily pulped to separate it into thin fibers. Extensive bleaching is used unless the fiber is organic. And, I suspect land is being torn up (especially forests) to plant bamboo. Of course, cotton and other natural fabrics face the same dilemma. Most bamboo fabric is being grown and processed mostly in China (as are most fabrics). If you choose bamboo, perhaps of the best things to do is research the company before you buy to see if they are truly using sustainble practices.

Theresa, Ommama


Ommama & KraftyKatina said...

Great post! Bamboo fabric is wonderful but I agree that it is not as green as it's promoted to be. I didn't realized it gets so bleached out! C

Michelle Koury said...

i tried to explain this to my dread head friend and she was unwilling to accept these truths. but the bamboo is sooo uber soft!

Katherine Almy said...

Thanks for this well rounded information. I've been curious about bamboo fabric.