How do you make the fine sensual fabric used for bamboo sheets and towels from green bamboo plants? What are the advantages of bamboo fabric?
It’s not like bamboo hasn’t been used for clothing before. This material has been used in garments for centuries. But it wasn’t used as a fabric and certainly not for bed sheets. It was used for shoe bottoms, shields, hats, stiffeners and buttons. Somebody got the bright idea that the bamboo fiber could be converted to a silky rayon.
This person didn’t invent the process, he modified the process used for a century that converted cellulose to rayon. The process is pretty simple. The bamboo stalks are converted to a viscous liquid (viscose) by dissolving the bamboo plant in chemicals. Then the viscose is pressurized and squirted through tiny holes called spinarets. What comes out is hardened into a rayon thread, which is subsequently woven into a fine silky fabric.
What is the advantage of bamboo over other fabrics. Other than the silky feel of bamboo fabric used in bed sheets, towels and robes and it’s affordability, one of the main advantages is bamboo’s better environmental footprint.
There is a company in China that has a monopoly on bamboo/rayon processing. They developed this procedure and they patented it. This gives them the opportunity to control the whole bamboo farming and production process. They control their bamboo farms. This company markets their product as Oeko-Tex 100 Certified. In order to get that certification they have to meet the standards of the USDA National Organic Program and OCIA/IFOAM. The bamboo is periodically monitored by testing laboratories for chemicals. As a result the Chinese bamboo cloth industry is organic.
Some species of bamboo can grow to 90+ feet tall and be 6 inches in diameter. The bamboo shoots used for cloth reaches it’s full height of 40-50 feet in 5-6 months. Hard to imagine bed sheets made out of this tall forest, or towels for that matter. The shoot is mature and ready to harvest in 3-6 years. Bamboo is classified as a member of the grass family. Harvesting bamboo has some similarity to mowing your lawn. The stalks are removed, but the plant remains to grow again. It grows 50 times as densely as cotton. This frees up land for growing other crops. In addition to the way that bamboo is grown, without the pesticdes and herbicides that other fiber uses, it is much better for the environment. The way cotton is grown is pretty gross and hard on the land.
There are two main sources of cellulose that are generally used to produce rayon. Those are wood and cotton. When either of these are harvested, the plant is cut down, clear cut. The land is denuded. The plants are all gone. All that damage to produce sheets and towels? When bamboo is harvested, the mature stalks are cut and the young ones are left to mature. The bamboo forest continues. The biotic environment is still there. The fauna and flora aren’t destroyed to make sheets and socks. In addition the fields are burnt and plowed under. As a result the fields are likely to erode from both wind and rain. The soil after a bamboo harvest is undisturbed. The roots and plants are still there retaining and protecting the soil.
In order for humanity to survive, we have to have fresh water. There’s only so much of it around and we should take care of what we have. Cotton is a huge water consumer. Almost all cotton is irrigated. Also a quarter of the pesticides used are used on cotton. It takes a lot of chemicals to grow the this fiber that is used in sheets and pillowcases, towels and robes. Most bamboo isn’t irrigated or sprayed with pesticides or herbicides. Bamboo is a much better choice for the environment
An additional environmental advantage of bamboo as a cellulose source is that the solvents used in bamboo cellulose processing can be recovered and recycled. Bamboo is just a better choice if you are thinking about this planet we live on. Whenever possible buy products, such as bed sheets, towels and robes that are made out of bamboo It’s a great choice for the planet and a good choice for yourself.