Bamboo is an amazing natural resource that has been widely used over the centuries in many countries. Bamboo's unique properties allow for it to be used in many diverse ways. Bamboo can be used for construction, medicine, cooking, textiles and many other products. Modern Western society has only recently begun to explore the many wonderful benefits bamboo has to offer. Textiles and clothing is one of the most exciting uses for the bamboo plant. Bamboo clothing possesses an incredible range of beneficial properties. It's friendly to the environment and can enhance our modern lifestyle in many surprising ways.
- What is bamboo clothing?
- What makes bamboo so soft?
- How is bamboo antimicrobial?
- How does bamboo protect you from the suns rays?
- Why bamboo clothing is the perfect fit for sensitive skin.
- The amazing moisture wicking properties of bamboo fabric.
- Why bamboo fabric is the best for active lifestyles.
- How does bamboo grow so fast?
- Where is bamboo grown?
- How bamboo can save trees.
- How bamboo can produce 35% more oxygen than trees.
- Bamboo clothing is 100% biodegradable.
Although bamboo can reach up to 115 feet tall, it's actually a member of the grass family. Over 1,000 species of bamboo grow all over the world. Wild bamboo can be found in South America, Central America, Australia, China, Japan, India, South Africa and many other areas. Bamboo is grown on approximately 49 million acres of land across the world.
Much of the bamboo used to make clothing and textiles comes from the Moso species, a variety of bamboo native to China. Clothing and textiles are made from a substance found in bamboo fibers called cellulose. Cellulose is one of the most abundant renewable resources on the earth and can be used in many different ways. Bamboo grows quickly and uses minimal resources, making it an ideal source of cellulose. Refining cellulose produces a substance that can be spun into threads and woven into fabric.
Bamboo textiles are extremely resilient and durable yet still soft and silky to the touch. Many people compare the texture of knit clothing made from bamboo to cashmere. Bamboo fibers are smooth and round, giving bamboo a soft, smooth feeling without chemical treatment. Bamboo contains a natural ingredient called pectin that gives bamboo clothing its soft texture. Modern methods of processing raw bamboo produce an extremely high quality product. Its soft, smooth feel makes it perfect for everything from baby clothing to beautiful designer garments. Bamboo keeps its soft texture through multiple washings, and many people are delighted to find that their bamboo garments become even softer after washing.
Clothing made from bamboo effortlessly combines comfort with style. Bamboo clothing has a flowing quality with a lovely drape. It is wrinkle-resistant, giving it a smoother appearance than cotton. It can be woven into fabric with many different textures from woven material to luxurious knits. It can be dyed many vivid, beautiful colors and needs less dye than cotton to produce rich color. Bamboo fabric is colorfast and will retain its color beautifully with both natural and organic dyes. It is lightweight and very strong and resilient. It can be washed easily in cool water without the need for environmentally harmful and irritating fabrics softeners.
Bamboo's amazing properties have allowed it to garner the attention of environmentally-conscious fashion designers in recent years. Celebrities such as Gwyneth Paltrow, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Ashley Olson, Paris Hilton and Jamie Foxx have been known to show off their personal style and care for the environment with stylish bamboo clothing.
Bamboo fibers contain a natural antimicrobial substance called bamboo-kun. Bamboo-kun gives bamboo textiles the ability to naturally resist fungi, mold and other pathogens. These antimicrobial properties make bamboo clothing resistant to bacteria and odors. Bamboo clothing keeps its resistance to harmful bacteria through many washings. A test performed by the Japan Textile Inspection Association showed that the number of live staphylococcus aureus bacteria in bamboo fabric was reduced by 75% over a 24-hour period of time. The odor-resistant properties of bamboo make it very useful for sportswear and athletic clothing.
Bamboo hats have been traditionally used in China and Japan by farmers and fishermen to shield their skin from the sun's harsh rays.
More recently, bamboo has been shown in studies to provide natural protection against sun damage. Bamboo is able to filter out as much as 97.5% of the sun's harmful ultraviolet radiation. An Australian study found that bamboo shields the wearer from the sun up to 60% more effectively than cotton. These protective properties make bamboo the perfect choice for beach wear and summer clothing.
Bamboo clothing is naturally hypoallergenic, making it a great choice for those susceptible to allergies and skin rashes. The soft fibers of bamboo clothing will not itch, rub or irritate sensitive skin. Because bamboo is soft and silky without the need for chemical treatment, it can be safely worn directly against sensitive skin. Those who are allergic to natural fibers such as wool or hemp may find that they can wear bamboo clothing without causing an allergic reaction. Bamboo fibers have anti-static properties that prevent the clothing from clinging to dry, rough skin. Clothing made from bamboo textiles will help to soothe dry winter skin and protect it from friction.
Bamboo clothing absorbs moisture three to four times faster than cotton. This property allows the fabric to wick moisture quickly away from the body, keeping the skin dry and comfortable. Bamboo fabric can actually absorb three times its weight in water! The absorbent and durable qualities of bamboo clothing make it a superior choice for outdoor adventures and sports activities. Bamboo clothing is ideal for running, golf, yoga, biking and many other activities.
Bamboo fabric has natural insulating properties that allow the body to stay comfortable in all weather conditions. A recent study published by the International Journal of Thermal Sciences revealed that fabrics containing a higher percentage of bamboo fibers provided an increased level of thermal regulation. Like wool, bamboo textiles have a hollow microfiber structure that provides natural warmth in cold weather. Bamboo microfibers are also filled with tiny holes and gaps in their structure that provide ventilation. This allows for better thermal regulation than cotton or polyester. Because it's breathable, bamboo clothing allows the body to stay cool and comfortable in warmer weather. People with conditions such as multiple sclerosis and fibromyalgia can benefit greatly from comfortable bamboo clothing that helps to regulate the body temperature and prevent overheating.
Due to the rapid growth of the global population, people are becoming more conscious of the need for sustainable clothing. The use of bamboo for clothing provides a sustainable, eco-friendly alternative to cotton. Bamboo grows faster than any other woody plant. It grows densely and regenerates quickly, allowing for high crop yields from smaller land areas.
A new bamboo shoot takes just eight to ten weeks to achieve its full height, and it will be fully mature in five years or less. Just as a lawn continues to grow naturally, the bamboo plant grows after harvesting without the need for replanting. Regular harvesting actually benefits the growth of the bamboo plant and results in increased yields in the future. A plot of bamboo can yield up to 10 times the volume of an area of cotton the same size.
Bamboo is a valuable and sustainable resource because it can be grown in many diverse climates. It will grow well in both cold mountain climates and warm tropical areas. Bamboo crops can be produced in adverse weather conditions such as high temperatures and drought. It's an important part of the ecological climate in many countries.
Bamboo needs much less water than trees and typically has no need for irrigation. The cultivation of bamboo plants allows for the conservation of precious water resources. In comparison, cotton requires much more water and must be grown on irrigated land.
The growth of sustainable resources such as bamboo can have profound economic and environmental benefits. Bamboo can grow in many areas with limited economic development and resources, offering struggling rural communities the opportunity for positive growth and development. Producing bamboo allows countries with poor economies a chance to improve their economic situation without damaging their culture and environment. Using modern processing methods, the growth of bamboo can offer enhanced opportunities for increased income, food and housing.
Bamboo provides an alternative source of cellulose for the textile industry and allows for the preservation of forests. Communities are able to reap the benefits of a sustainable crop that can be harvested without destroying their forests and groves.
Because bamboo grows well without the use of pesticides or chemicals, it is both sustainable and safe to the environment. The natural antimicrobial agent in bamboo makes it resistant to pests and other pathogens in the environment. It compares favorably to cotton, which alone accounts for 11% of the pesticides and 24% of the insecticides used worldwide.
The production of conventional cotton crops negatively impacts the environment in many ways. The synthetic fertilizers, pesticides and insecticides used to produce cotton are hazardous to the environment and human health. Although organic cotton production reduces the amount of these toxins in the environment, it still uses too much water to be considered truly sustainable.
Bamboo plants have been shown to absorb more carbon dioxide from the air than most trees. Besides having the ability to remove this harmful greenhouse gas from the atmosphere, bamboo can produce up to 35% more oxygen than trees.
Because bamboo clothing is made from plant cellulose, a natural substance, it's completely biodegradable. Once it cannot be used any longer, bamboo clothing can be disposed in a clean and environmentally friendly way. Natural sunlight and microorganisms found in soil will safely break down the bamboo fibers. Synthetic textiles such as polyester and nylon are not biodegradable and will remain in landfills for a longer period of time.
Because they must be uprooted at harvest, crops such as cotton can eventually lead to soil erosion and depletion. Bamboo plants have an extensive root system that will remain in place after each harvest. This root system effectively binds the soil together and prevents erosion. Bamboo can be used to protect river banks and other areas prone to mudslides.
Making Bamboo Clothing a Part of Your Life
So now you're ready to try out bamboo clothing for yourself. What factors should you consider while making your choices? Everyone has a unique sense of fashion, comfort and style. Your clothing choices should reflect your personality, priorities and lifestyle needs.
Are you looking for durable, comfortable garments for your travel adventures? Perhaps you have a child with allergies or sensitive skin. Do you revel in silky, luxurious clothing with a beautiful drape and smooth texture? Maybe you'll need extra protection from the sun during your beach vacation this summer. Perhaps you're passionate about the environment and seek to purchase eco-friendly products produced from sustainable resources. Maybe you need comfortable, breathable clothing for that yoga class you've always wanted to take.
Once you experience the amazing benefits bamboo has to offer, you'll find yourself reaching often for your bamboo clothing. Do yourself a favor and enjoy the magical properties of bamboo clothing for yourself!
Citations:Majumdar, Agnijit, Mukhopadhyay, Samrat, and Yadav, Ravindra. (2010). Thermal properties of knitted fabrics made from cotton and regenerated bamboo cellulosic fibres. Retrieved from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1290072910001523.
Bissell, Heidi. (2011). Five Things Everyone Should Know About . . . Bamboo. Retrieved from http://grow.cals.wisc.edu/environment/five-things-everyone-should-know-about-bamboo.
Bamboo textile. (2016). Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bamboo_textile.
Nijhuis, Michelle. (June 2009). Bamboo Boom: Is This Material for You? Retrieved from http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/bamboo-boom/
Wait,Marilyn. (2010). Sustainable Textiles: the Role of Bamboo and a Comparison of Bamboo Textile Properties-Part 2. Retrieved from http://ojs.cnr.ncsu.edu/index.php/JTATM/article/view/656