Posts Tagged ‘Bamboo Clothing’

Moso Bamboo the king of grasses

Moso Bamboo, also known as Phyllostachys edulis, is nothing new, but in recent years it has sparked a revolution in agriculture, textiles and construction.

Of the roughly 1,500 varieties of bamboo that populate the earth, it’s easy to argue that Moso Bamboo is the most important one of all. When you hear about bamboo clothing and bamboo flooring, these are products of Moso. When you see bamboo scaffolding on skyscrapers in Hong Kong and China, it’s very likely Moso. And when people speak of bamboo growing a foot or two a day, Moso is one the varieties that can actually do that.

Cultivating Moso Bamboo

Native to Southern China and Taiwan, Phyllostachys edulis thrives in the warmer, subtropical climates. In these regions the plant can reach its full potential, with towering culms of 90 feet or more, and growing a couple feet a day in the growing season. But like most Phyllostachys, it can also tolerate more temperate zones. Just don’t expect it to grow to such an impressive size.

Members of the genus Phyllostachys are running bamboos, meaning that they spread and propagate by way of sprawling rhizome roots. From this complex underground root system, new culms shoot out of the ground in the growing season and quickly grow to their full height. A mature grove of Moso Bamboo will put out shoots with a 4-5 inch diameter.

Check out our in-depth article on Running Bamboo to learn more.

Once every 50 years or so, a Moso Bamboo plant will flower and produce seeds. In some varieties of bamboo, every member of a given species will flower at the same anywhere in the world. This phenomenon, known as synchronous blooming or gregarious blooming, does NOT occur with Moso. Instead, it exhibits sporadic flowering.

In many varieties of bamboo, the plant will die after it flowers and goes to seed. This is called monocarpic. This is NOT the case with Moso. A healthy stand of Moso can produce thousands of seeds and most of them will germinate, while the mother plant survives. Rats and rodents, however, will generally eat a significant portion of these tender seedlings, which tend to be only 2 mm in diameter.

Can I cultivate and farm Moso Bamboo in the U.S.?

The preponderance of commercial Moso farming takes place in China, where the species is indigenous. It’s much happier in that subtropical climate. Within the U.S., the deep South probably has the best growing conditions for Moso Bamboo.

It also does particularly well in Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina. A company called Only Moso launched a commercial bamboo farm in Gainesville. Florida, in 2011. Some farmers grow Moso in Oregon and the Pacific Northwest, where it does reasonably well. But without the extra hot summers, it does not reach its maximum height and girth.

The Many Uses of Moso

The magnificent size and vigorous growth habit of Moso Bamboo makes it the perfect candidate for a wide range of practical and industrial applications. Moso from China has become especially important for the production of bamboo flooring and bamboo clothing.

Bamboo Flooring

Bamboo flooring took the building industry by storm about 20 years ago, quickly becoming available from hardware stores and flooring specialists everywhere. Unlike traditional hardwoods, bamboo reaches maturity within 4-5 years, while the trees could take 20-100 years to mature. Bamboo, with its high metabolism, can also sequester about 50% more carbon than a typical forest.

In addition to the ecological benefits of bamboo, Moso also produces a very hard wood, making it an ideal material for things like flooring and cutting boards. According to the Contractor’s Guide for Green Building Materials, standard bamboo flooring has a Janka hardness rating of 1180 to 1380. This is comparable to most oak varieties, rated around 1300 to 1400. More innovative types of bamboo flooring, using a woven strand technique, have scored from 3000 all the way up to 5000.

As much as we like to advocate the use of bamboo as the environmental silver bullet, it is important to be aware of certain ecological concerns. As a laminated wood, bamboo flooring does require a urea-formaldehyde (UF) adhesive to bond together. These adhesives can off-gas and pose other environmental problems. Still, bamboo uses far less formaldehyde than other materials like particle board. And formaldehyde-free bamboo is also available now.

Another issue, when bamboo flooring exploded in popularity, was the removal of native forests in China for the purpose of cultivating commercial bamboo. This sort of deforestation has led to the destruction of natural wildlife habitat and soil erosion, and could easily outweigh any environmental benefits of bamboo. It’s important, therefore, to learn as much you as you can about your bamboo supplier, and see that they meet all the highest standards of certification.

Bamboo Clothing

Remarkably hard on the one hand, bamboo can also produce a rayon fabric that is incredibly soft on the other. Shortly after the appearance of bamboo flooring, we began seeing socks, t-shirts and towels made from bamboo.

Along with the well-reported ecological benefits of bamboo—fast-growing and readily renewable without the need for pesticides and herbicides—bamboo fabric also boasts a number of advantages in performance. Most obvious is bamboo’s softness. Like cotton or any other conventional textile, bamboo can be woven into any kind of fabric. But the result is always uniquely soft, with an uncommon mix of cool silkiness and warm fuzziness.

Additionally, bamboo material is naturally anti-microbial, hypo-allergenic, odor-resistant and temperature regulating. It may sound too good to be true, but the properties of bamboo are plainly evident if you sleep on a set of bamboo sheets or wear a pair of bamboo socks two days in a row. We’ve also heard from many customers with sensitive skin disorders and serious allergy issues that bamboo is one of the only materials they can wear.

Bamboo’s very high absorbency also makes for some exceptionally nice towels. But be advised, bamboo socks and t-shirts will take a bit longer to dry for this same reason. Generally this is not a problem. If you’re keeping your carbon footprint down and using a drying rack instead of an electric dryer, just leave the clothes on the rack a little longer. If you’re traveling however, and trying to dry your clothes on a line in your hotel room overnight, bamboo might not be your best choice.

Some have expressed concern over the pulping process that goes into make viscose fabric from bamboo. In fact, caustic soda (or lye) is used to extrude the cellulose from the stalks and leaves of the bamboo before it can be spun into thread and woven into fabric.

The primary concern here is how the manufacturer disposes of this bi-product after pulping. It is possible to reuse and recycle the lye, and certain manufacturers are bound to be more conscientious than others. We have always been committed to working with the most ecologically responsible producers as possible.

Most of us who work in the bamboo industry are determined to see it being used in the most ecological way possible. It’s good to know that many have been improving the standards of cultivating and processing bamboo over the years.

Cotton, by comparison, is extremely pesticide intensive to grow, as it is very vulnerable to insects and other pests. It also requires a great amount of irrigation, because it is typically cultivated in hot, dry climates. And even organic cotton must go through a processing stage before it’s spun and woven into fabric.

Phyllostachys edulis is edible

Finally, we need to talk out how Phyllostachys edulis got its name. Long before the advent of bamboo floors and bamboo underwear, Chinese foodies were making use of Moso Bamboo’s tender young shoots.

So Moso earned its botanical name from this characteristic. Actually, many varieties of bamboo have fresh culms that are edible. This species just happens to be one of the most majestic, widespread and recognizable in China. Not only that, but given the plant’s size, you can practically make a whole meal out of one shoot!

Take a look at our article on Edible Bamboo Shoots to learn more.

Guadua Bamboo

If you’re looking for other varieties of bamboo that are especially useful and fast growing, Guadua angustifolia is one to watch out for. Native to Central and South America, Guadua is a clumping genus of mostly timber bamboos. They make an excellent building material, and have been used widely throughout the continent to create some very impressive structures.

For more details, have a look at our in-depth article on The best bamboos for building and construction.

Further Reading

To learn more about the ecology and versatility of Moso and other species of bamboo, check out some of our other articles.

What’s so great about bamboo? 10 Best varieties of Bamboo for your garden Best bamboo for poles Buddha Belly: Bamboo of the highest calling Hemp vs. Bamboo: The ultimate comparison

PHOTO CREDIT: Wikipedia

best bamboo clothing store

When Bambu Batu, the House of Bamboo, opened nine years ago (yes, our birthday is coming up on Feb.20), we were the only shop anywhere to offer such a wide variety of bamboo clothing. In 2006, the bamboo clothing industry was still in its earliest stage of infancy. Nobody walking into Bambu Batu had ever seen bamboo clothing before. Seeing the looks on people’s faces when they touched a bamboo towel or a pair of bamboo socks for the first time was truly delightful.

Now it’s 2015, and our selection of bamboo clothing is more impressive than ever, as we continue to offer the widest variety of bamboo products of any store in the land. Those who scoffed at us when we first opened our doors on Grand Avenue in Grover Beach, writing off bamboo sheets and shirts as a passing novelty, have been proven wrong. And conversely, those who love the feeling and wearability of bamboo clothing and clamored for more of it, have all been richly rewarded.

Today the selection of brands and colors and weaves of bamboo fabrics and textiles is more diverse and higher in quality than ever before. Just look at the variety of bamboo towels out there! But in spite this growth and progress, the mission and purpose here at Bambu Batu has not changed one iota.

We remain committed to providing the best quality natural fiber clothing and textiles, made in accordance with the highest standards of fair labor practices, at the most reasonable prices. Unlike a lot of bamboo clothiers who have jumped on the bandwagon in recent years, seeing an opportunity in a growing market, charging prices that keep bamboo clothes out of reach for the average middle class family, Bambu Batu remains a family-owned business that makes the relationships with our customers a top priority.

Spring has sprung once again. It’s fast approaching that time of year when less clothing is more desirable and brighter colors attract the eye. Dreamsacks, one of our favorite companies, has now evolved in to Yala, and with that evolution comes some exciting new designs for spring and summer.

Here are my three favorite new goodies that we have in stock now from Yala.

3. What’s old is new again, with a new shade to look upon. The lovely and youthful Clara tunic now comes in a bright and cheerful yet tasteful Raspberry.

2. Who says spring is no time for scarves? You never know when a spring breeze is likely to come ruffle you up and make you regret the decision to wear that tanktop and mini skirt. But wait, thankfully you have your brand new Pashbu Scarf (maybe in that delicious new shade of yellow called Limoncello) with flirty frayed edges. Just light enough for spring, and just enough to keep you warm, just in case.

1. If you like a top that you can wear to your favorite summer outing, or just around the house, then you’ll love the brand new Gathered Samantha Top. With a hip hugging waist and a flatteringly loose mid section, this lovely new work comes in four different colors: Raspberry, Jade, Deep Purple and Black.

There are plenty of new and exciting things to see here at Bambu Batu. Come spring forward with us!

Bambu Batu, in its undying quest to hold itself accountable and socially responsible, is very pleased to be adding an assortment of Certified Fair Trade bamboo products to its already impressive selection of eco-conscious fabrics and housewares.

In that very same spirit, Bambu Batu will also be participating in a Fair Trade Christmas Market on Saturday, Dec. 8, in the old Pier One building in downtown San Luis Obispo. (I believe that’s 848 Montery St. — next door to the old HempShak.) The Copelands are donating the space for the event, which is being organized by the SLO Fair Trade Coalition (SLOFTC).

The SLOFTC and the Santa Lucia Chapter of the Sierra Club are also co-sponsoring a showing of “Maquilapolis: City of Factories,” at The Steynberg Gallery, 1531 Monterey St., SLO, Saturday, Sept. 22 at 7 p.m. Don’t miss this chilling documentary on factory exploitation and maquiladora madness!

Or if you can’t make, just stop by Bambu Batu any time to check our our impressive selection of socially responsible and environmentally proactive bamboo clothing and bamboo housewares.

Sustainable bamboo

(The following story was written by me in the spring of 2007, and appeared in a number of local publications.)

Suddenly it seems like everybody’s talking about sustainability and renewable resources. And well they should. After 30 years of hot air about global warming and peak oil, the environment is finally talking a lead role in the American political drama. Solar energy is radiating across California and the nation, organic produce is spreading like pollen in the spring, and alternatives to disappearing hardwood and pesticide-rich cotton are drawing more interest than ever.

One remarkable resource that’s recently come out of the woodwork and into the spotlight is bamboo. A paragon of sustainability, bamboo is finding its way into construction, flooring, clothing, towels and linens. And unlike so many progressive alternatives, bamboo is absolutely affordable. It doesn’t require another 20 years of research or legislation, and it doesn’t demand a major initial investment to be recouped a decade from now. Bamboo is economically viable today.

Words like renewable and sustainable get thrown around a lot, and they’re likely to cause some misunderstanding. Even petroleum is a renewable resource; it just might take a few hundred thousand years to replenish itself. Redwood trees renew themselves much faster, in just a few centuries. As long as we don’t harvest them any faster than they grow, they could be considered sustainable. Further up on the scale, we have annual crops like hemp, which can grow up to 12 feet in a single season, with minimal crop rotation and little or no chemical fertilizers or pesticides. Easily maintained and renewed each year: that’s sustainable.

Then there’s bamboo. A division of the grass family, with as many as 2000 varieties, bamboo flourishes in virtually every climate. It is a notoriously vigorous grower; some varieties grow as much as 3 feet a day in the growing season — although a few inches a day is more typical. Bamboo reaches maturity within five years, and, as a grass, requires no replanting. Anyone who’s ever tried removing unwanted bamboo knows this characteristic all too well. When bamboo is cut down, it just comes right back, and stronger. If there’s a more readily renewable resource out there, I’d like to know about it.

The vast majority of commercial bamboo comes from China, Indonesia, and Southeast Asia. Indeed, they’ve been using the plant in that part of the world for both food and shelter for millennia. (They’ve even identified bamboo as having magical and mythical properties.) Countless varieties also thrive throughout Africa and the Americas, even in temperate and hardy climates.

Bamboo’s natural vigor makes it sustainable, plentiful, and inexpensive. And its physical strength and diversity translate directly into its versatility as a natural resource. In addition to all of its traditional uses for things like chopsticks and furniture, bamboo today is pressed and laminated as a superior lumber alternative. Stronger even than oak or maple, bamboo has become the first choice in flooring. And in the past couple years, its price has come to rival that of traditional hardwood. This pressed bamboo is also becoming wildly popular for cutting boards and kitchenware because of the way it resists scratching and repels moisture.

Bamboo clothing and fabrics, however, may hold the plant’s greatest promise. Until you’ve seen it yourself, the touch of bamboo is hard to imagine, and difficult to believe. Beat into a pulp and spun into thread, bamboo fiber yields an amazingly soft, anti-bacterial and anti-microbial material. Remarkably soft and absorbent bamboo towels are simply exquisite. And, unlike conventional cotton, bamboo grows prolifically without fertilizers, pesticides or defoliants.

In the quest for a global panacea, bamboo might not necessarily save the planet; but in terms of renewability and sustainability, it’s certainly one of the most promising natural resources we have. And not just promising — bamboo is available today, and affordable. No longer must one pay a premium to support a cause or to make an environmental statement. At last, you can do what’s right for the earth, what’s right for yourself, and what’s right for your budget.

Bamboo Fiber Clothing

Bamboo fabric is a radical new material that promises to revolutionize the clothing and textile industry. For cost, comfort and ecology, bamboo fiber clothing has no equal.

But how do they do it?

Basically, the bamboo stalks are crushed and pulped, and the plant cellulose is extracted and converted into “rayon.” But while traditional viscose rayon relies on caustic chemicals to convert man-made celluose, bamboo rayon employs a new eco-friendly method that preserves the natural characteristics of the bamboo (celluose) without the use of toxic chemicals.

The organic solvent amine oxide (N-methylmorpholine-N-oxide) has been in use since the 1990s for converting raw wood fiber into useful textiles. Bamboo’s abundance and renewability make it an ideal candidate for this process, and the non-toxic process is entirely in line with the ecological philosophy behind bamboo.

The end result is a sumptuously soft eco-fiber fashioned from organically grown bamboo, not just comfortable, but also hypoallergenic, anti-microbial and anti-bacterial.

Why Bamboo Fiber Clothing?

Conventional cotton is known to be one of the most pesticide intensive crops on the planet, as it is susceptible to a number of pests (particularly when grown in monoculture). And the defoliants used to strip cotton of its leaves before harvesting are some of the deadliest man-made chemicals available. (see Agent Orange )

Other synthetic fibers like nylon, polyester and traditional rayon are derived from petroleum, and so, of course, are those pesky fertilizers, pesticides and defoliants. Freeing ourselves from these industrial fibers represents one more step towards freeing ourselves from fossil fuel dependency.

Bamboo, hemp, and organic cotton all offer excellent alternatives to the highly-toxic conventional textiles. And the future of sustainable agriculture depends not on a single panacea, but on a healthy diversity of alternatives.

For the widest variety of bamboo clothing, bamboo towels and bamboo bedding you’ll ever find under one roof, please visit Bambu Batu, in person or online. In business since 2007, no other bamboo store can touch us for quality, consistency or experience.

To learn more, be sure to check out our comprehensive article on What’s so great about bamboo.

X