Bamboo has long been regarded as an eco-friendly material but how green are bamboo clothes

Bamboo has long been regarded as an eco-friendly material because of its amazing green attributes: It can grow with few pesticides and little water. This is the view of Lotus Organics, who in their usual full and frank style have investigated the industry and presented their finding on their informative Organic Clothing Blog. It is always a great read for anyone with an interest in the greening of the rag trade. None more so than their current peek at bamboo.
Michael Lackman of Lotus concludes, “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 into a viscose solution that is then reconstructed into cellulose fiber for weaving into yarn for fabric.”
We also admire them for bravely pointing out that the ISO 140001 and Oeko-Tex standards, while useful in their spheres of influence (management and human health respectively) do not, on their own, indicate sustainable textile practices
Along with palms, bamboos are one of the world’s most important building materials, particularly in areas where timber trees are in short supply. Large timber bamboos, including Dendrocalamus giganteus and Bambusa oldhamii are used for scaffolding, bridge-building, water pipes, storage vessels and to build houses. In fact, as a building material bamboo plays an important role in almost every country in which it occurs. In Burma and Bangladesh, about fifty percent of the houses are made almost entirely of bamboo. In Java, woven bamboo mats and screens are commonly used in timber house frames. With modern polymer glues and bonding cements, bamboos are made into plywood, matboard and laminated beams.

The wooden sword called a “shinai” used in the Japanese martial art of kendo is made from longitudinal strips of strong bamboo culms. Several strips are tightly bound together with string. There are many weapons made from bamboo, including bows and arrows and sharpened bamboo stakes. In Sumatra, native hunters fashion blowguns (blowpipes) from bamboo culms to shoot deadly poison darts.
Giant pandas are completely dependent on bamboo for food, and they require enormous quantities of it. Because of a rather inefficient digestive system compared with other herbivores, giant pandas may consume up to 85 pounds (38 kg) of bamboo per day. Pandas digest about twenty percent of the bamboo they consume, while cattle can digest sixty percent of their intake. Pandas will eat other species of bamboo but apparently prefer the kinds that grow wild in their native habitat, including Himalayacalamus, Fargesia, Drepanostachyum and Sinarundinaria, all native to Yunnan, Tibet, Nepal and northern India. Pandas once roamed over a wide range in southern China. Before the fertile valleys became farmland, they could move from one area to another to find a variety of bamboos. Now they are restricted to isolated mountain regions in which there are relatively few species of bamboo. This habitat isolation is a potentially serious problem when bamboo species that giant pandas depend on suddenly flower and die.
Bamboos are very important plants, both ecologically and economically. They are one of the most useful and valuable plants for people and provide the primary diet for giant pandas. Giant pandas are indigenous to mountain forests of small, cold-tolerant bamboos in the Yunnan province of southern China. Although they have a carnivorous ancestry and are members of the bear family (Ursidae), giant pandas have evolved a vegetarian diet of bamboos and eat the entire shoots, leaves and stems. The Himalayan red panda also feeds on bamboos along with a variety of other plants. It belongs to the family Procyonidae along with American racoons, coatimundis and ringtails.
Bamboos are very useful plants throughout the Old and New World tropics. It has been estimated that they are used by more than half of the world’s human population every day. According to A. Lewington , more than 1000 different products are made from bamboo. Bamboo shoots are edible and are a major component of Asian dishes. Since fresh shoots are more flavorful than canned, bamboo farms have been established in the United States. In Tanzania, “bamboo wine” is made from the fermented juice of the wine bamboo. Although bamboo shoots are tender and weak, they grow very rapidly. In fact, there are records of tropical bamboos growing 100 feet in three months, an astonishing 0.0002 miles per hour! When the shoots leaf out in sunlight they become very strong and woody.Some bamboos stems have the same tensile strength as certain types of steel and are used to reinforce concrete. After about ten years the stems begin to deteriorate in humid tropical regions. Bamboo canes are used to make cooking utensils, blow guns, toys and furniture. Bamboo pulp is used to make paper, and small, polished stem segments are sometimes used in necklaces.
Reeds and bamboos are very significant plants in the development and evolution of musical wind instruments. Different lengths and widths of the hollow culms produce the light airy sounds of small sikus or zampoñas and the deep bass notes of Bolivian toyos. Some of the world’s most beautiful music is produced by these relatively crude instruments. Panpipes have also been made in France and the Balkan countries, primarily from the reed Arudo donax collected in marshlands of the Danube delta.

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One response to this post.

  1. a really thought provoking article..

    Reply

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