Is bamboo eco friendly?
The question on a lot of peoples lips: Is bamboo eco friendly? The short answer? Yes, Definitely!
There are many advantages of using bamboo. This versatile plant can make a massive positive impact on the environment both during the growing process and as an incredible natural alternative to plastic.
Reasons why we love bamboo so much:
- Bamboo is highly sustainable. It is the fastest growing plant on earth. In 3-4 months it can grow to full size, given the right growing conditions. The average standard tree can take well over 30+ years to get to this stage. This makes it a great sustainable alternative to wood, cotton and similar plants.
- Any use of wood can be replaced with eco friendly bamboo from hardwood flooring to utensils, phone cases and furniture to name a few.
- Chemicals and pesticides aren’t required when harvesting bamboo, which means that the cultivation is natural, and doesn’t harm the environment. There is no need for fertiliser as fallen leaves provide all the nutrients necessary.
- Bamboo is renowned for being versatile and is strength. In many cultures Bamboo is utilised as a building material. Bamboo has been used successfully for housing, bridges and scaffolding for many years. In Hong Kong it’s still in constant use for scaffolding even for skyscrapers!
- Once harvested, bamboo will continue to grow new shoots from its amazing root system. There is no additional planting required.
- Thanks to a substance called ‘bamboo kun’ fibres in bamboo are naturally antibacterial which means there is no need to chemically treat them. It is so effective that in both its natural form or fabric form, it eliminates and prevents over 70% of bacteria that attempt to grow on it. For more information on bamboo kun please see here.
- In climate zones and soil types where other crops fail. Bamboo being highly versatile can often grow.
- Eco friendly bamboo effectively stores and absorbs twice as much carbon as your average tree, which means bamboo forests have an enormous positive impact on the environment. It also generates a vast amount of oxygen, totalling up to 30% more than most plants and trees.
- Bamboo plants have strong roots which makes the soil beneath them more stable. This makes the land in which they grow more secure, and helps to prevent landslides.
- Bamboo helps protect biodiversity and endangered species by creating homes for a variety of different animals including the endangered giant panda.
- Every part of the bamboo plant can be utilised in one way or another allowing zero waste. Once the bamboo material has reached its full life span, it can be recycled back to the earth.
- Bamboo isn’t just for pandas, bamboo shoots are a healthy food source people have been eating for thousands of years. Crisp and crunchy bamboo shoots can be served in Stir-fries, soups and salads to name a few.
Bamboo fabric refers to a number of different textiles which are made from the fibres of bamboo plants. Fabrics have been made from bamboo for thousands of years, but it is only in more recently been perfected for mass scale.
Depending on the type of fabric being made, bamboo textiles can be produced using a number of different methods.
Bamboo viscose rayon which is a semi-synthetic fabric originally developed to mimic silk, makes up the majority of bamboo fabric produced worldwide, unfortunately although it is the cheapest to produce it has the worse environmental impact and workplace hazards. The process to convert this hardwood into bamboo viscose rayon consists of an intense chemical process involving the use of harsh chemicals like sodium hydroxide and sulphuric acid. Waste produced by creating viscose rayon is contaminated with a toxic chemical called carbon disulfide, which can create a variety of health problems.
There is another form of bamboo fabric which is considered to be fairly eco-friendly, bamboo lyocell.
Lyocell is normally made from eucalyptus plants, however because of similar properties it can also be made from bamboo.
The production of bamboo lyocell still uses chemicals but in a closed-loop cycle which ensures all the chemicals, water, and everything else used to produce the fabric is 100% recycled, contained and reused again and again. Which means there is no leakage of the chemicals into the environment.
Not all bamboo fabric’s need the use of harsh chemicals to break them down. Instead a natural enzyme can be used on crushed bamboo fibres, these fibres are then washed and spun into yarn. This production method creates the highest quality bamboo yarn which usually has a silky texture. This fabric is then often called bamboo linen. When this method is used it is not environmentally harmful.