During the 1990s, what we processed and used to produce goods, foods, and clothing was unimportant, which contributed to lasting harm to our planet. Now in 2020, we are at a tipping point where major changes need to happen to reverse the damage done to our beautiful planet. And now ‘going green’ has taken the front seat in almost every industry.
Even in the fashion industry, major manufacturing companies are beginning to use eco-sustainable clothing materials. One of the options is Bamboo. Not only does it grow quickly, but it is durable and, if processed properly, it will not leave a lasting effect on the environment. Due to the different perks that come with the use of organic bamboo for clothing and other products, there is a rise in demand.
What is the bamboo fabric?
Bamboo, a type of tropical grass, grows on average four to six new shoots a year, naturally replenishing itself. It is also the most biodegradable resource on our planet. Traditionally bamboo was used for hand-made paper production. But thanks to modern manufacturing techniques, bamboo pulp is now capable of producing bamboo fiber used to make yarn and fabric. Bamboo fabric is a textile made by pulping the bamboo grass until it separates into thin fiber threads, which are then spun and dyed for weaving into cloth.
Bamboo fabric is incredibly comfortable and perfect for those who experience allergic reactions to other natural fibers such as wool. It absorbs water easily, which also makes it highly dyeable into many color choices. Fabric and garments made from the bamboo fiber are said to have an anti-bacterial quality, making it ideal for many applications. It is mostly favored by companies trying to use sustainable textiles because the bamboo plant is very quick growing and does not usually require the use of pesticides and herbicides to thrive.
“Bamboo fabric” specifically refers to the number of different textiles made from the bamboo plant. Although certain types of this fabric are environmentally friendly and ethically made, other types where chemical procedures are used may be detrimental to the environment or the workers producing it.
It is important to learn more about the textile industry surrounding this plant to ensure that you choose the right type of bamboo fabric.
How Is Bamboo Fabric Made?
There are several ways to turn bamboo into fabric
The first process is a popular method used to make the silky soft bamboo fabric you find in sheets, and more. This “bamboo rayon” is produced through a highly intensive chemical process, similar to the process used to turn wood chips into rayon. Rayon is essentially a raw material that has been converted through a chemical process. The final product of this process falls entirely into a category between naturals and synthetics.
Bamboo rayon is most widely manufactured by the so-called viscose process, which involves the dissolution of the cellulose material such as bamboo in a chemical solution to create a viscous pulpy substance. This is then pushed through a spinneret, and “spun” into the fibers that can then be made into threads and fabrics. The chemicals used in the process are extremely toxic and pose a risk to human health. Approximately 50 percent of the toxic rayon waste cannot be seized and reused and goes directly into the ecosystem.
Alternatively, bamboo cellulose can also be created with a closed-loop production process. In contrast to the method used to produce viscose rayon, closed-loop rayon production does not chemically change the cellulose composition, which results in a fabric being called strictly organic. Whereas the solvent used to produce conventional viscose rayon is waste and typically ends up in the ecosystem, solvents used in closed-loop rayon processing are reused over and over, reducing the environmental effect.
The highest quality bamboo fabric is made from manufacturing processes that do not extract cellulose. Instead, a natural enzyme is used on crushed bamboo wood fibers, and these fibers are then washed and spun into yarn. This yarn usually has a silky texture, and the fabric made by this process is sometimes called bamboo linen.
When this method is used to make bamboo fabric, it is not environmentally harmful, and the resulting textile is strong and durable. However, most types of bamboo fabric are not made with this mechanical process; to ensure that you’re getting high-quality bamboo fabric, make sure that it is manufactured with a mechanical rather than a chemical process.
Benefits of Bamboo fabric:
- Antibacterial – Bamboo fiber has natural antibacterial and deodorizing Character. The bamboo has a unique antibacterial agent called “bamboo Kun”
- Highly sweat absorbent(moisture-wicking) – Bamboo fiber has a unique ability of breathability and coolness. The cross-section of bamboo fiber contains various micro-gaps and micro-holes, which does the function of moisture absorption and ventilation. With this unique property, bamboo fiber apparel can absorb and evaporate human sweat in a fraction of time
- It is also very warm in cold weather, because of the same microstructure as the warm air gets trapped next to the skin
- Naturally UV protectant – Due to anti-ultraviolet nature, it is suitable for making summer clothing, as it protects against ultraviolet exposure.
- eco-friendly fabric – Sometimes the growth of bamboo is approx 3 feet over a night thus being a renewable resource. The cycle of decomposition does not damage the ecosystem.
- It is 3-4 times more absorbent than cotton fabric.
Where Is Bamboo Fabric Produced?
Here are some bamboo facts:
- Bamboo has exceptional economic potential. The use of Bamboo in India has a long history. Millions of people in India depend on bamboo for housing, food, fuel, paper, and cloth.
- Bamboo and its related sectors provide income, food, and housing to over 2.2 billion people worldwide.
- India is one of the richest bamboo resources in the world after China in Bamboo production.
- According to the Forest Survey of India (FSI), in India bamboo, grows in 8.96 million hectares of forest area, which constitutes about 12.8% of the total forest area of the country. The government of India runs the National Bamboo Mission (NBM) to promote the growth of the bamboo sector.
- Governments such as India, China, and Burma with million hectares of bamboo reserves collectively, have begun to focus attention on the economic factors of bamboo production.
Bamboo has advantages over cotton when it comes to its sustainable farming potential. But there’s a lot of work done to develop and make widely available cost-effective and environmentally sustainable ways of creating the soft and silky bamboo fabrics that we’re dreaming of.
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Article by Sayali Wangane