The reason as to why bamboo has made a definite impact through the fashion industry is due to its gentle and flowing drape, smooth hand, luxurious softness and affordable price when compared to fabrics such as cashmere and silk. But the real reason as to why bamboo has become increasingly popular is because it is now known as a sustainable eco-fabric.
Growing bamboo can be regarded as a highly beneficial plant in relation to the planet and the majority is organic, natural bamboo. However, the manufacturing processes that involve turning the bamboo plant into a bamboo fabric is where the eco-friendly luster and sustainability of bamboo becomes tarnished. This is due to the chemicals that are used that are in some cases toxic.
Bamboo is botanically classified as a type of grass and could be the most sustainable-resource worldwide. This fast growing grass is able to grow to a yard in just a day and reaches maturity very quickly and can be harvested within four years. In addition, this plant does not need to be replanted after the harvesting process due to the extensive root network that continues to sprout shoots. This plant pulls in greenhouse gases and sunlight and converts this into new green-growth. Bamboo has the ability to complete this process in a natural way without the requirement for poisonous fertilizers and pesticides or petroleum-guzzling tractors.
Bamboo fiber that is chemically manufactured is known as a regenerated cellulose-fiber that can be compared to modal or rayon. In some cases this chemically-manufactured bamboo can be called bamboo rayon due to the similarities of the manufacturing process and how it feels to the hand.
The majority of bamboo fabric known as the latest eco-fashion craze has been chemically manufactured. This process entails cooking"the woody shoots and leaves of the bamboo plant in a chemical solvent such as lye or caustic soda along with carbon disulfide to produce a process called hydrolysis alkanization that is then combined with what is known as multi-phase bleaching.
Both carbon disulfide and sodium hydroxide are linked to serious types of health conditions. Breathing in lowered levels of carbon-disulfide causes tiredness, nerve damage and headaches. Growing bamboo is an environmentally friendly practice, but the manufacturing process of bamboo into a fabric includes health and environmental concerns. However, improvements are on the way and there are gentler and safer methods now used to produce bamboo into a fabric, such as those used by some Australian sock manufacturers.