Bamboo clothing is made from bamboo fiber. Bamboo fiber is a kind of regenerated cellulose fiber, which is produced from raw materials of bamboo pulp. Belonging to the grass family, bamboo is one of the most eco-friendly and sustainable resources on the planet, because it not only grows fast but grows without pesticides and little water.
The use of bamboo fiber for clothing is a 20th century development, pioneered by several Chinese corporations.
Why should I be aware of this?
- Bamboo fabric is soft, lustrous, antibacterial and antifungal.
- Bamboo has been touted as an eco fibre by the advocates of green living. There are no two views about the fact that the bamboo plant is one of the most eco friendly and organic plants. It does not need fertilizers or pesticides to grow and thus does not pollute either the ground water or air. Bamboo forests serve as carbon sinks, a very useful tool with climate change and global warming becoming very serious issues.
- The growing of bamboo is environmentally friendly but the manufacturing of bamboo into fabric raises environmental and health concerns because of the strong chemical solvents used to cook the bamboo plant.
All about bamboo clothing
- Bamboo clothing is both an organic clothing and a sustainable clothing
- Bamboo is an eco fibre.
- It has a beneficial impact on the planet, our health and hygiene, and comfort.
- Bamboo plant absorbs more carbon dioxide than most plants.
Properties of bamboo clothing
- Bamboo fabric is light and strong, and has excellent wicking properties.
- Bamboo can be spun purely or blended with other materials such as cotton, hemp, silk, Lyocell (Tencel)), Modal, cotton chemical fiber and so on.
- Bamboo fabric is durable, stable and tenacious.
- When it comes to thinness and whiteness, bamboo fiber is similar to classic viscose. After hi-tch processing, bamboo fiber is thinner than hair.
- Bamboo fabric has a natural sheen and softness that feels and drapes like silk but is less expensive and more durable.
- Bamboo clothing is easy to launder in a clothes washer and dryer.
- Because of the smooth and round structure of its fibers, bamboo clothing is soft and non-irritating, even to sensitive skin. Bamboo is naturally anti-bacterial and anti-fungal supposedly because of a bacteriostatis agent unique to bamboo plants called “bamboo kun” which also helps bamboo resist harboring odors.
- The structure of bamboo fibers make bamboo fabrics more breathable and thermal regulating than cotton, hemp, wool or synthetic fabrics.
- Bamboo clothing is naturally more wrinkle-resistant than cotton, and while it might still require ironing after washing, bamboo fabric can be ironed at a lower temperature than cotton.
- Shrinkage during washing and drying is minimal at warm temperatures.
- Bamboo fibers and fabrics absorb dyes faster and more thoroughly than cotton, modal and viscose with better color clarity.
- Bamboo fabrics do not need to be mercerized to improve their luster and dye-ability like cotton requires.
- Bamboo cloth can quickly absorb and evaporate human sweat. The cross-section of bamboo fiber is filled with various micro-gaps and microholes, bamboo cloth has much better moisture absorption.
- Bamboo fabric is naturally antibacterial.
- Bamboo fabric successfully avoids pilling and shrinkage problems.
Bamboo clothing and health
- It is smooth against skin.
- It is a natural deodorant.
- It also has antibacterial properties.
- Bamboo is reduced to pulp form through a process of hydrolysis-alkalization and multi-phase bleaching.
- Both sodium hydroxide and carbon disulfide have been linked to serious health problems.
- Breathing low levels of carbon disulfide can cause tiredness, headache and nerve damage.
- Carbon disulfide has been shown to cause neural disorders in workers at rayon manufacturers.
- Low levels of exposure to sodium hydroxide can cause irritation of the skin and eyes.
Bamboo clothing and the environment
Growing bamboo is a wonderfully beneficial plant for the planet and most is naturally organic bamboo. The manufacturing processes where bamboo the plant is transformed into bamboo the fabric are where the sustainability and eco-friendly luster of bamboo is tarnished because of the heavy chemicals, some of which are toxic, that are often required. Very, very little bamboo clothing would qualify as sustainable or organic clothes.
What can I do?
- Bamboo fabrics and clothing can be manufactured and produced without any chemical additives although eco-certification such as Oeko-Tex is necessary to insure that the manufacturing and finishing processes are healthy.
- If you are thinking of purchasing bamboo clothing or any clothing that has been made outside the U.S., look for certification from an independent and reliable certification company such as Oeko-Tex, Soil Association, SKAL, KRAV or similar organic or sustainable certification body.
- Currently, the Oeko-Tex label is the most comprehensive label for ensuring that the garment is healthy for consumers but it does not certify the manufacturing processes that produced the garment as being environmentally friendly and sustainable.
90 degrees --- what we do not know yet
Some people with chemical sensitivities can not tolerate bamboo clothing. It is not known if this intolerance is due to the intrinsic nature of bamboo or because of other chemicals added or used during the manufacturing and finishing processes of the clothing.
- Bamboo clothing has anti-bacterial properties. It is three times more effective than cotton products.
- Bamboo clothing has anti static properties which are 12 times stronger than that of cotton.
- Bamboo clothing is hygroscopic -- it exhibits 60% improvement over cotton.
- It has 30% better deodorizer than cotton.
- Bamboo fabric has insulating properties and will keep the wearer cooler in summer and warmer in winter.