Before clothing reaches your closet, there is a lifespan to that material that began from the ground up. The planting process itself has just as much an effect on the environment as the manufacturing process. And beyond the latest styles, there is a larger trend evolving in the world of fashion. Consumers are choosing more environmentally conscious fabrics at a growing rate and bringing about a new awareness to their wardrobe.
Bamboo is a eco-conscious fabric choice that starts with its growing process.
What makes a crop environmentally friendly to grow?
Renewability of product: Even before the processing, weaving and manufacturing, the planting itself makes an impact on Mother Earth. Fibers that are grown should be able to be replenished in a relatively short amount of time. Cotton, for example, is a very greedy crop to grow – it sucks most nutrients from the soil and growing enough cotton for one t-shirt uses 257 gallons of water.
Bamboo, on the other hand, is an abundant and sustainable resource. It can be harvested every 3-4 years without being pulled from the ground and it has such a strong root system that it actually helps prevent soil erosion rather than causing it. And because it uses natural rainfall for its watering, it requires no irrigation system.
Ecological Footprint – Just as we have a carbon footprint, crops leave a footprint of their own. A growing concern is how much land it takes or destroys to bring one plant to full growth and support it. Once again, let’s pick on cotton. Because the crop must be rotated to let the soil replenish, it takes up 74% of the world’s arable land. Another popular fabric choice is rayon which is derived from the eucalyptus trees. But harvesting this wood-pulp product is leading to mass deforestation in East Asian countries. Bamboo requires much less acreage to grow the same amount of plants because it can be harvested at the stalk and will regenerate quickly. An added bonus is that as it grows, it gives back to the environment by taking in carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen into the air.
Chemical Use - Farmers using conventional cotton practices uses a multitude of chemicals. Before cotton is planted, the soil is prepared by applying fertilizers and herbicides. Throughout the growing season, there are additional applications of insecticides, herbicides and growth regulators. At the end of the growing season, a defoliant is applied to prepare the plant for harvest. Essentially, it requires almost the entire weight of a cotton t-shirt in fertilizers and pesticides to grow the cotton for it. Of the most commonly used pesticides, seven of them are suspected or known to be carcinogens. Not only does this translate into chemical-laden clothing, but imagine the run-off into groundwater from all of these chemicals.
Bamboo, however, is naturally pest-resistant with its anti-bacterial properties so it requires no herbicides or pesticides to grow. And it’s a hearty plant that requires no fertilizers to help its growth along.
In textile form, bamboo retains many of the properties it has as a plant. Bamboo is highly water absorbent, able to take up three times its weight in water. In bamboo fabric, this translates to an excellent wicking ability that will pull moisture away from the skin so that it can evaporate. Bamboo also has a quality which helps to reduce bacteria that thrive on clothing and cause unpleasant odors. It kills odor causing bacteria that live on human skin, making the wearer and his or her clothing more odor-resistant. In addition, bamboo fabric has insulating properties and will keep the wearer cooler in summer and warmer in winter. The versatility of bamboo fabric makes it an excellent choice for clothing designers exploring alternative textiles. Additionlly, the fabric is able to take bright dye colors well and drapes smoothly.
Green Earth Bamboo offers a variety of bamboo clothing to let you take advantage of these amazing qualities. From ladies tops to mens tee shirts, their clothing is fashionable, comfortable and friendly to the environment. Give your little ones a chemical-free start in this world and choose organic baby wear and organic crib sheets. And be sure to treat yourself to luxurious and healthy bamboo bed sheets and bamboo bath towels.
For more on how bamboo helps the environment, visit Green Earth News section on Bamboo & The Environment.