Bamboo has been used as a structural material for thousands of years, but it is only due to technological advancements of the past decade that we can start using this "ultra-renewable" material as an effective replacement for environmentally unfriendly alternatives such as polyester, acrylic and nylon.
Bamboo is, in fact, a grass, which means that it grows from the roots and reaches maturity within 3-5 years. This allows it to be cut back and be regrown without the need for replanting. Its extensive nature also makes it one of the most space-effective plants, meaning it can produce 35% more oxygen than an equivalent area of trees, giving it cause to being a much more carbon-efficient material through better carbon offsetting.
It can also be grown without pesticides and irrigation, as well as being a major corrosion inhibitor that thrives in a multitude of habitats around the world. By its nature, it is one of the best preservers and protectors of the natural environments it surrounds. Managed ethically and sustainably, large ecosystems can be maintained through the organic farming of bamboo material. This is vital for the abundance of endangered species that rely on the unique habitats created by the bamboo plant.
Used in structures, bamboo is resilient, long lasting and flexible. It has more recently been used as a sustainable substitute for clothing fabrics. It is 40% more absorbent than the nearest organic cotton competitor, therefore it is quicker at removing moisture from your skin. This adds to both a more comfortable experience as well as a more hygienic option.
Bamboo fabric can also absorb three times its weight in water, and this rapid nature also means that it is able to rid moisture more quickly too. This reduces drying times, in turn reducing our personal carbon footprint through the decreased use of drying machines and radiators. The benefits aren't just limited to the production of bamboo fabrics! Its sustainable benefits are ongoing.
Intensive manufacturing processes have historically made bamboo fabrics relatively expensive. Such processes include the combing out of the coarse bamboo fibres which are then wound into yarns. However, technological advancements are slowly reducing the costs associated with production and bamboo fabrics are becoming more and more accessible to the average consumer.
The chemical and water usage throughout the production process also questions the sustainability of bamboo fabrics. However, the development of a closed loop process called Lyocell, developed by Tencel, captures 99% of the chemicals used for regeneration, decreases water usage, and was awarded the ‘European Award For The Environment’ by the EU. Bamboo is seen by many as a new sustainable and eco option to products on the market today.
The production of bamboo materials is becoming more efficient, making it a great alternative in terms of sustainability and environmental impact, but also quality, price and performance.