I’ve been recently pointed at and accused by a customer because of the fabric we use for the activewear collection and the price of the garments. I want to use this opportunity to present here the reasons why I have chosen Bamboo fabric for this collection and also to say that I am open and willing to learn every single until we become 100% sustainable.
Our goal is to create a business that is restorative and regenerative by design, striving to incorporate as many circular materials as possible into our collections.
Its not the first time I write about Bamboo but this time Im gonna be more precise and dive deeper so this post might be interesting for those who really want to know more about this material.
So lets start talking about Bamboo Fiber:
Basically bamboo is a grass; it is the world’s fastest growing ‘Woody Plant’. Bamboo has more than 1000 species that grows very fast at the rate of 3-4ft per day depends on its species and atmospheric conditions.
Bamboo grows naturally without using any herbicides, pesticides and irrigation, it grows with natural rainfall. There is no need of planting of Bamboo because it grows from stalks cut off and buried it in the ground and these starts to grow after a short time period. As compared to the other trees that take approximately 70 years to become mature bamboo plant matured within 3-4 years and have all the eco-friendly properties. Bamboo has very vast root system that helps in its growth faster as compared to normal plant. (Bamboo- why is it sustainable 2010)
Organic and eco friendly product or material is defined by National Organic Standards Board of US department of Agriculture (USDA) as "An system of ecological production that supports and improves following soil properties biological activities, biodiversity and biological cycles. (Bamboo-is it organic? 2010)
History and Background:
Bamboo fiber and starchy pulp are made from Bamboo and are mostly grows in Asian countries. Basically starchy pulp is the refined form of Bamboo leaves and stems and made by the process of multiphase bleaching and hydrolysis alkalization, and different chemical fiber factories convert it into bamboo fiber after process it further more.
Bamboo is a cellulosic and bio-degradable fiber extract from natural bamboo plant. It is synthetic viscose made from bamboo cellulose not made from fibers and leaves of the plant. It is famous for its naturally green properties and also because of fast growing and cultivated plant. Bamboo is also produced by different method and processes like steaming and boiling etc. Bamboo fiber can be extracted naturally from Bamboo Culms, and Bamboo viscose is produced by applying chemical processes.
Bamboo fiber is free from chemicals and additives. Because the fiber is directly picked up from natural bamboo and used physical and mechanical processes to make bamboo fiber free from chemical methods.
There are two types of use bamboo fiber available, it use as a source of raw cellulose in viscose production after substituted for beech and the natural bamboo (so called Linen bamboo because of it hand and drape properties) extract from bamboo viscose and culms directly.
Methods of Bamboo manufacturing:
There are two methods of manufacturing of Bamboo:
1.- Mechanical method
1.- Mechanical method:
In this method ‘woody’ part of bamboo plant crushed and treated with natural enzymes to break down the bamboo in to the soggy substance and then this material is combed-out into spun yarn. It is the most reasonable method of manufacturing bamboo yarn and the bamboo produced by this method is very rough like linen. The problem with this method is that it’s a little expensive method
2.- Chemical Method:
In this method Sodium hydroxide is used to crush the woody bamboo and then the crushed bamboo is dipped into caustic soda and it converted into cellulose material.
There is some misconception in people about sodium hydroxide, but it does not cause any harm to environment and health of workers. It is approve by Global Organic textile Standards (GOTS) and the soil association that it can be used in Organic Cotton processing and it cannot stay on bamboo fabric as residue and easily remove after washing and can be neutralize to non toxic sodium salt. In spite of that sodium hydroxide have many uses, it is used in paper making, food preparation, soap manufacturing for washing and soft drink productions, chocolate and cocoa processing and thickening of ice cream.
Bamboo yarns and Fibers:
Bamboo fiber is regenerated cellulose fiber made by high tech process, its raw material found in non-polluted regions.
The production and generation of this Bamboo plant is green and free form pollution and harmfull chemicals.
Bamboo is 100% natural cellulosic fiber with unique properties and bio-degradable in soil by sunshine and microorganisms. Its generation and decomposition does not cause any harm and pollution in environment that’s why bamboo is explained as:
“The Fiber comes from nature and biodegradable properties return it to the nature completely in the end’’ it is the 21st Century fiber ‘BAMBOO’’. And its properties encourage its use in textile fashion products, because it’s a big solution for the question arises against environment. (COM4TH.com u.d.).
Appearance and Properties:
The original bamboo fiber is similar to Ramie or Bast fibers, in its appearance and properties. But Bamboo fiber is bit thinner and finer than ramie fiber and also has specialized and functional properties like anti bacterial, Anti UV, deodorant and germicidal.
According to research it has been approved that the properties of thinness and whiteness of bamboo fiber is better than the bleached viscose. And have strong durability, tenacity and stability. It grows naturally without any pesticide; it owns unique antibacterial and bio-agent named ‘Bamboo Kun’.
During the process of being manufacturing of bamboo fiber this substance is combined with bamboo cellulose. Bamboo fiber works naturally as anti bacteria and have properties of bacteriostatic and deodorant. Japan Textile inspections Association tested the bamboo fiber fabric and washed those fabrics up to 50 washes and found that the fabric still possess the antibacterial properties approx 70%.
Bamboo fiber has quality to spin perfectly and the fabric or yarn made from this type fiber has good quality with respect to quality standards. Fabric made of Bamboo pulp fiber is called bamboo fabric and have good properties of permeability, soft feel, hygroscopibility, and easiness to straighten and also have excellent dye, pigmentation color effect property. It is new raw material having excellent eco-friendly properties and when it is mixed with cotton, and other materials its properties get boom. Bamboo works as air conditioned fabric because of it breathable and coolness properties. According to authoritative testing figures Bamboo fabrics is 1-2 degree cooler than normal apparel in summer season.
Key properties and features of Bamboo:
Bamboo plant harvested annually and its establishment required minimum cost initially and can be grow by the farmer and foresters having skills of plant cultivation. Bamboo can grow faster than any other tree i.e. 4-5 years. It is the fastest growing timber plant having many applications as wood substitutes. Bamboo has excellent property of anti soil erosion and used for land restoration. It can be cultivated with vegetable plants also. Bamboo plant itself is a complete bio degradable material and its all parts are very usable i.e. Bamboo poles are used as building materials, its shoots and leaves are used in animal feeding and branches are useful in making handicrafts.
Bamboo has ‘bamboo Kun’ material that works as antibacterial agent and anti fungus agent and help to make fabric odor free. It has buttery soft quality and even softer than silk, cashmere and cotton. It also have soil release property and more durable and less expensive than silk and cashmere. Fabric made of bamboo requires less washing because of its soil release property and save time, money, water and energy. It acts like thermal regulator on human body and its breathable structure keeps your fabric dry and you feel comfortable. It is good for skin sensitive people having allergies, dermatitis and eczema.
Advantages of Bamboo fiber: Advantages for consumer:
Bamboo is extraordinary soft, it serves the wearer as he or she wears cashmere fabric or garment. Bamboo is smooth, luxurious, and comfortable, if take a look of bamboo in microscope we find a lot of round on its surface that’s why it sits perfectly next to the skin. Bamboo is strong fabric used in scaffoldings and skyscrapers, because it has high tenacity and abrasion proof properties. Bamboo has good wicking properties, its absorption rate is 4 times greater than the cotton, and it absorbs and evaporates the moisture very quickly. And keep fabric or garment dry, soft and comfortable. (Bamboo fiber advantages 2008).
Bamboo garments works as air condition for the user in summer, bamboo absorb the sweat and evaporate it in seconds and keep the garment dry. Bamboo is having natural breathable propeties (because of tiny hole on its surface) and brings comfort for the user. Bamboo works as thermo control system (highly breathable) in summer it becomes cooler and in Cold it keeps you warm. It keeps you comfortable in both weathers. Bamboo also have antibacterial properties, and antifungal properties that keeps you skin out of bacteria and very use full for skin sensitive people having itching, and rashes problem. Bamboo also resists UV rays and very good for the pregnant women to protect them from UV rays. (Manning 2008).
Advantages for the environment:
Bamboo serves the environment and has properties to serve the desires and needs of the world in the sustainable ways. Bamboo is the world fastest growing plan that requires very less water and grows without using fertilizers, pesticide and herbicides. Bamboo can grow any where even on hills and inclined surfaces where other trees survive hardly and after cutting of bamboo grass it helps in soil stability. Bamboo grows to maximum height in 4 months and becomes mature in 3-4 years having all eco friendly properties. The approx yield get from bamboo acre if bamboo is 10 times more than the cotton fields. (Green Cotton 2008).
The fabric we use for activewear collection has a small percentage (5%) of spandex, a synthetic fibre derived from petroleum that has amazing stretch as well as great recovery. It can be stretched to up to seven times its relaxed measurement. If you really stretch a piece of fabric that has a content of spandex it will ping back to its original size easily. I’m sure like me you have owned garments that are great the first time you wear them and then after a few washes become misshapen. Most loose fit pieces though made from knitted fabric are not made from knitted fabric that contains elastane, therefore the fabric often continues to stretch but does not recover resulting in an out of shape garment.
I personally would like to avoid spandex and thats why I continue to search of alternatives that are 100% sustainable. So far, I have decided to work with this fabric because it is the best solution I have found considering renewable resources, long lasting, high quality, good for the skin and environmentally friendly.
Resorce; Master Thesis
Applied Textile Management University of Borås
Report No. 2010.9.14