The positive results of wearing spun bamboo clothing go well beyond the consumer's enjoyment of soft, breathable, moisture-wicking, organic fabric, but also include benefits that can affect the entire global community.
As the spun bamboo plantations are growing, the bamboo itself is working to make our environment a better place. The World Wildlife Fund estimates that an acre of bamboo can store 6.88 metric tons of carbon per year, 70 percent more than an acre of hardwoods. Bamboo also produces 35% more oxygen than an equivalent stand of trees. Purchasing and wearing spun bamboo promotes and supports the growth of our bamboo plantations which are harvested on a rotational basis. That means that while other crops like cotton must be entirely decimated at the time of harvest thereby causing bare soils to bake and release more carbon into our atmosphere, spun bamboo plantations are harvested in portions at a time. There will always be some part of the plantation still standing and doing good for the environment. And contrary to claims that land is clear cut to make way for bamboo, our bamboo plantations have been in existence for decades.
Our bamboo plantations are also pesticide and fertilizer free, as bamboo flourishes on its own, and naturally resists pests. This is a break-through fabric when you consider the conventional cotton uses more insecticides than any other single crop and epitomizes the worst of chemically dependent agriculture. The typical spraying application results in volatile organic compounds being released into the air and contributing to green house gas formation. Additionally, such spraying harms the health of the soil and pollutes the ground water, lakes and streams. Five of the top nine pesticides used on cotton in the U.S. (cyanide, dicofol, naled, propagate, and trifluralin) are known cancer-causing chemicals. It takes nearly a pound of such chemicals to grow the cotton for one pair of pants and a shirt. Bamboo provides a superior and eco-friendly alternative to such pesticide intensive crops, and to petrochemical based fibers like nylon and polyester.
While the creation of spun bamboo fiber seems to have mystified a few and even spurred some erroneous reports on how bamboo fiber is manufactured, the process is really quite simple. The bamboo clubs can be pulped through a process of mechanical combing, and/or baths of sodium hydroxide. These processes are completely closed, which means that the release of byproducts into the environment is negligible. The chemicals involved are “good” chemicals—Sodium hydroxide is reactive but it is not toxic, i.e. it does not cause DNA damage, does not enter the food chain and is short lived because of its reactivity. It is easily neutralized into salt and water. Furthermore sodium hydroxide is used as a washing agent for almost all organic cottons textiles and is certified by the global organic textile standards. The proof of the ecologically sound methods behind bamboo production is the fact that all spun bamboo fabric is certified under Oak-Tex Standard 100, which has become the best known and most stringent label for textiles tested for harmful substances.
At this point in time, we are sourcing our bamboo socks from Chine because that is where the bamboo plantations are alongside the factories that have the know-how to produce high quality bamboo fiber. We believe that by introducing this fantastic, renewable material to the general public here and abroad, we will be educating others about bamboo and inspire the growth of more bamboo in the U.S. and around the globe. In order for farmers to start growing bamboo as a cash crop where historically it is note (i.e. the U.S.) requires them to see a strong demand for products made from bamboo.
It is paramount the public learn that bamboo is an incredible natural resource that is severely under utilized in a large part of the world. We hope by showing the seemingly limitless possibilities this old plant has in a modern world, and explaining why bamboo clothing in particular is beneficial to our environment, we can help the world ass yet another more sustainable product to their everyday lives.