Friday, October 29, 2010

Fiber Friday -- Bamboo

There has been a real surge of bamboo in the clothing/textile industry of late. I, for one, knew little about bamboo and its properties. I have seen it in the fabric stores and even was tempted to purchase some yarn because it is SO soft. I could easily imagine something soft and cozy knit up in this yarn. Bamboo has intrigued me enough to do a little research on it and I came up with some interesting facts.

*Bamboo is classified as a grass. It is the fastest growing grass on the planet growing an average of a yard a day and once harvested, grows back very quickly. It grows naturally without the benefit of fertilizers or pesticide making it a very eco-friendly plant to grow.

*However, while the bamboo itself is eco-friendly, the method of processing isn’t necessarily so. Harsh chemicals can be used in its processing. Once harvested, the fiber is “cooked” using chemicals such as sodium hydroxide and carbon disulfide into a viscose (golden-brown solution) and then restructured into a yarn suitable for weaving/knitting. While there are processes being established to lessen the use of chemicals in the manufacturing of bamboo that will hopefully replace this method, it is still used and is considered cost effective in providing bamboo products to the consumer. Hence, bamboo textiles really are not all that eco-friendly.

*The alternative method of processing is done mechanically much in the same way linen fibers are harvested from flax, removing the fibers from the plant, breaking down the enzymes that hold the fibers together and then combing out the fibers for spinning. Even though this is eco-friendly, it is labor intensive and, therefore, much more expensive to produce meaning a much higher priced item for the consumer which, from what I gather, is the reason the chemical method is preferred.

*Bamboo is 100% biodegradable even with chemical processing. In fact, it often improves the soil quality.

*Fibers are light and strong, take dye easily and have a natural UV protection.

*Bamboo has anti-fungal, anti-bacterial properties and is considered hypoallergenic and a good fabric for those with sensitive skin.

*Bamboo is highly absorbent – 3-4 times more wicking ability than cotton.

*Easy to launder and maintain.

Sew Happy,

1 comment:

I love comments and look forward to reading and enjoying them. Thanks for stopping by Stay Calm and Sew Something


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