Bamboo fabric – amazing stuff!

A few years ago, Beijing University discovered how to produce fabric from bamboo. Since then, the technique of manufacturing top quality fabric has been in development, bringing new innovations in fibre mixing and other processes.

The wonderful thing about bamboo is that it has the ability to retain its natural characteristics, thereby maintaining the organic heritage of the product.

Bamboo fabric is durable and breathable. It’s incredible softness and natural lustre are exceptional, similar to fine cashmere. There are four other key qualities:

1. Bamboo is environmentally kind and sustainable

Bamboo grows wild without the aid of fertilizers, pesticides or any chemical assistance whatsoever.  Unlike cotton, which is the world’s most environmentally disasterous crop, accounting for a quarter of ALL chemical fertilizers and pesticides from only 10% of the agricultural land mass.

Bamboo is the world’s fastest growing plant, sometimes rising several feet in 24 hours.  Bamboo grows to maturity in around 3 years and after harvesting, more is planted, then left for 3-4 years before harvesting again. Only 10% of the vast bamboo forests are given over to commercial use, indeed only some strains of bamboo are suitable for making clothing. Bamboo production is completely sustainable.

In addition, greater interest in bamboo will lead to more bamboo forests, which offers greater greenhouse gas conversion to oxygen. With most of each growing cycle spent at full height, it’s a forest that re-grows almost immediately after each harvest.

Whilst this is just one of four outstanding selling points of bamboo clothing, given also the smooth, luxurious feel of the fabric, this element is a compelling reason on it’s own for the commercial development of bamboo clothing.

2. Bamboo fabric is antibacterial, antifungal and antistatic

This quality keeps bamboo fresher for longer, more hygienic and more healthy. A principle reason for bamboo’s success in the wild is that it has natural antibacterial properties, which kill and prevent the spread of bacteria. This property is maintained in fabric form. A specialist Japanese performance laboratory washed bamboo fabric 100 times and yet there was no drop-off in antibacterial performance whatsoever.

3. Bamboo absorbs water 3-4 times better than cotton

Bamboo fabric is a natural moisture wicking agent. Moisture is taken from the body, on contact, and then instantly evaporates. Bamboo’s ability to absorb water accounts for its capacity for rapid growth, which is also retained in fabric form. A bamboo T-shirt, for example, keeps the skin comfortable, rather than sticky, in summer weather.

4. Bamboo stays 2-3 degrees cooler in hot weather & warmer in cold

Like another natural fabric, Merino wool, Bamboo is naturally cooler in summer and warmer in winter. However, unlike any other fabric in the world, it’s physically cooler to touch in hot weather. In hot weather, it will keep the user cooler than regular fabrics in the equivalent knit or weave.

 

Author: David Gordon is based in the UK and runs the successful eco clothing label BAM. In 2004 he joined a team of Gurkhas (as the film maker) in a successful manhaul expedition across Greenland, one of the great untouched wildernesses left on earth.
Article: First appeared in BAM Bamboo Clothing, June 2006

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