Bamboo is the delicacy of choice of pandas, but in the last years, some bamboo varieties became primary source material for the fashion and accessory industries, besides the construction one. Many of us heard about the legendary soft, silky, and smooth bamboo fabrics – with the added benefit of a high sustainability level. The question we will answer today goes as follows: why is bamboo eco-friendly? Does it meet all the sustainability principles? Can we use it more efficiently than we do today? Let’s find out together!
Bamboo Fabric: What You Need to Know
One thing is for sure: bamboo fabric is in the limelight nowadays. Just like jute, bamboo is a hardy plant that requires little maintenance to grow and spread. It prefers warm or temperate environments, and it is specific to Asia, some areas in Africa, and some parts of the two Americas. In case you did not know, there are over one thousand species of bamboo – the tallest one of the most resilient members of the grass family.
People have been using bamboo for a wide area of purposes – the culinary arts, constructions (especially flooring), furniture and other home decorations and accessories, traditional medicine, paper, and paper-based products, and, more recently, clothing and fashion.
Some of the most famous bamboo fabric products today are the iconic bamboo towels.
Bamboo Towels and their Most Attractive Features
You will find pure bamboo towels or blends of bamboo and Turkish cotton towels in high-end hotels and spas. Such items distinguish themselves from the usual cotton towels by the following traits:
- They are softer and thicker;
- They have a high level of absorbency;
- They feel very soft to the touch;
- You can wash them in the machine and dry them in the dryer;
- They come with a particular resilience to wear and tear, allowing them to keep their luxurious look and feel for longer times.
Nowadays, super soft bamboo/cotton towels are available for the home as well. You will find large bath towels enveloping you in a layer as fluffy as clouds or generous towel sets for the entire family to enjoy.
As we mentioned before in our guide on how to have a spa day at home, great towels are mandatory for everybody who needs a little pampering and affordable luxury in their lives.
Moreover, bamboo towels, bathrobes, linens, and other items (clothes and accessories) appeal to the eco-conscious among us, who make real efforts to contribute to the benefit of our planet and advocate for sustainability in all aspects of their lives. Therefore, with no further ado, let us look at why is bamboo eco-friendly and what we need to know about its overall sustainability and impact.
Why Is Bamboo Eco-Friendly?
One of the first answers to this question is that bamboo does not need pesticides or herbicides to grow. The only problem that we need to mention at this point is the lack of information concerning the use of pesticides and herbicides in Chinese crops. Besides this point of concern, the eco-friendliness of bamboo resides in the following aspects:
- Bamboo grows from its roots and rarely needs replanting;
- It requires little to no irrigation and no chemicals to yield bountiful crops;
- Cultivators harvest mature bamboo in about 2-3 years, as the plant proliferates fast;
- It is a carbon neutral plant, capturing carbon dioxide and thus becoming an essential element keeping the balance between oxygen and CO2 in the atmosphere;
- The bamboo crops prevent soil erosion;
- The bamboo fibers’ production has a lower environmental impact in comparison to other threads, and especially in contrast to the manufacture of synthetic materials;
The Sustainability of Bamboo Fibers
There is little to do about the unethical cultivation and harvesting of bamboo, the use of chemicals to boost yield, or the land clearings implemented to make room for more crops. In the lack of such information in some parts of the world, we all should be aware that our bamboo clothes, bed sheets, or towels might be less eco-friendly than we would like them to be. Fortunately, statistics show that you can trust the bamboo you use and wear, as crops are sustainable more often than not.
Beyond this reason of concern, however, today’s world makes significant efforts in turning the bamboo fibers’ production as sustainable as possible. In the European Union, there are factories and strategies to render bamboo production as harmless as possible.
The industry needs still to implement a series of the chemical process – but as we said, the latest developments in the industry help us make the effort of replacing them with more green ones.
The main advantages of bamboo fibers from a sustainability point of view – answering the question of why is bamboo eco-friendly – at the same time are as follows:
- It costs less to produce and manufacture bamboo than cotton;
- Bamboo fibers – usually mixed with organic cotton – expose us less to the chemicals and toxins we typically find in the fashion industry;
- In comparison to non-organic cotton, bamboo crops do not require the intensive use of pesticides or harsh chemicals;
- Even if the manufacturing of bamboo (into fibers and fabrics) involves chemical processes (known in the industry as the viscose process), its production is less harmful to the environment in comparison to the creation of polyester for instance.
The Advantages of Using Bamboo Fabrics
The main advantages for us to use bamboo fabrics for linen and clothes – beyond its sustainability features – are as follows:
- It is an ideal fabric for temperature control
Bamboo towels and bamboo/cotton towels absorb large quantities of water (taking in up to three times their weight in water) in comparison to other types of fabrics. As we said on another occasion, bamboo bath towels are the best towels for your skin and your comfort. Due to the high wicking ability of bamboo fabric and the fabric’s breathability, your bamboo blends can efficiently remove moisture or sweat from your body, intensifying the evaporation process.
For this reason, bamboo fibers become more and more popular in many textile industries. Besides the manufacturing of high-end washcloths and towels, fashion brands use it for winter clothes or winter sports clothes and accessories.
- It is a resilient fabric
No matter what types of bamboo/cotton clothes or accessories you prefer, you should know you will enjoy them for extended periods. Bamboo fabrics tend to preserve their shape, texture, strength, and elasticity (in blends with other fibers), so they will look as good as new even after countless uses.
We have still more to work on the sustainability of bamboo – namely in its manufacturing stage – but we are making incredible progress in this regard. Bamboo, like jute and hemp, is one of the plants of the future and we are starting to use them more and more. We hope we answered the “why is bamboo eco-friendly” challenge we offered in the beginning. If you think about other ecological advantages of bamboo or you have personal experience with bamboo (or bamboo/cotton) items, please feel free to share them with us!