“Where is your bamboo grown”?
Our bamboo is grown on managed farms/plantations in Southeastern
China. Since all of the fiber processing is done in China and there is an abundance of bamboo
growing in China,
we use the bamboo grown there. We hope that, in time, we can purchase our
viscose from bamboo here in the U.S.A.
”I have read that they are clear cutting
old growth forest in China
to make way for more bamboo farms. Is that true?”
We have found absolutely no evidence of any cutting of timber to plant
bamboo. In fact, we have found that in 2007 the forest area in China grew by
12.84 million acres or the equivalent of nearly 2.3 billion trees. On January
14, 2008, China
announced plans to plant more than 2.5 billion trees in 2008 covering an
additional 13.09 million acres. In 2009, China planted an additional 2.6
billion trees covering more than 13.39 million acres. The National Forest
Restoration Program of China also has strict protection in place for existing
”We have heard that there is more than one
type of fiber from bamboo. If that is true, what are the different types and
do you use all of them? If not, which types do you use?”
There are two types of fiber derived from bamboo. The first is usually
described as mechanical and the second as chemical. Very little of the
mechanical fiber is in circulation and is not widely used. This fiber is more linen like and therefore not suitable for garments such as underwear, t-shirts or socks. The fiber produced
via solvent spinning is technically classified as 'viscose' and is properly
labeled as 'viscose from bamboo'. Viscose from bamboo is the fiber that we
”What chemicals are used in the processing
of your bamboo viscose and are they hazardous?”
The main chemical used in the processing is sodium hydroxide, also known as
caustic soda. Caustic soda is one of the most widely used chemicals in the
world. It is used in food production, soap making, manufacturing of bio
diesel, production of paper, and is used on nearly all cotton fabrics,
including organic cotton, during wet processing. Caustic soda is approved for
use on textiles under the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS).
While caustic soda is a strong chemical it poses no health hazard if used and
disposed of properly. Raw bamboo culms
are broken down into spinnable fibers by the use of sodium hydroxide.
• 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.
• Sodium hydroxide is easily neutralized into
salt and water.
• Sodium hydroxide
could be harmful if released into the atmosphere; however, our production
process is completely closed allowing an insignificant release of byproducts
into the environment.
• Sodium hydroxide is used as a washing agent
for almost all organic cotton textiles and is certified by the global organic
textile standards .
Our fiber supplier in China has confirmed to us that the fiber they produce
is produced in a 'closed loop' system where 100% of the sodium hydroxide and
74% of the carbon disulphide is recovered and recycled for further use.
”Some other manufacturers of viscose from bamboo
clothing say their apparel is Oeko Tex 100 certified, which means that no
harmful chemicals were used in the production of their product and that their
product is certified to be chemical free. Are your products certified to the
Oeko Tex 100 Standard?”
There seems to be a fair amount of confusion regarding the Oeko Tex
100 Standard and what it means. The Oeko Tex 100 Standard is a certification
of a product at a given point in the manufacturing process. The certification
states that there are no chemicals present in the product, at that point in
the processing, that would be harmful to human health, including that of
babies. It does not certify that no chemicals were used in the processing nor
does it make any evaluation of what processes were used or any evaluation of
the facilities that participated. There are other Oeko Tex certifications,
such as 1000 and 100+ that certify processes or facilities but Oeko Tex 100
To our knowledge, all of the viscose from bamboo produced is Oeko Tex
100 certified. We know for sure that the viscose that we purchase has achieved
We do know that there are some purveyors of bamboo apparel who state
that their apparel is certified, when what they actually mean is that
their fiber, viscose from bamboo is certified. If companies
selling bamboo apparel have additional certifications past the viscose stage
they would have the documentation for those certifications.
”Because of the processing, should viscose
from bamboo still be considered ‘green’?”
The production of viscose from bamboo can and should be improved. R&D is
underway to improve the process. Hopefully, a process similar to lyocell
using organic solvents will someday be the standard for bamboo production. In
the meantime, to discount all of the known positives of bamboo because it is
not the darkest shade of green or 100% eco-friendly would be as bad of a decision
as saying that organic cotton is not green or eco-friendly because of the
amount of water used to grow it or because caustic soda is used in the
Some facts to consider about the greenness of bamboo would be:
- Bamboo is grown without pesticides or
- Bamboo requires no irrigation
- Bamboo rarely needs replanting
- Bamboo grows rapidly and can be harvested
in 3-5 years
- Bamboo produces 35% more oxygen that an
equivalent stand of trees
- Bamboo is a critical element in the
balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere
- Bamboo is an excellent soil erosion
Additionally, bamboo viscose fabric is breathable, thermal regulating, wicks moisture better than
polyester performance fabrics, will resist odor and is extremely absorbent.
”Why do some bamboo fabrics not always feel
as soft as other bamboo fabrics?”
The first possibility would be that the fiber that was used is the
mechanically produced variety, which does not produce a soft fabric, as
opposed to the chemically produced type, which produces a very soft fabric.
In addition, even if the fiber was of the chemically produced variety, other
factors can dramatically impact the softness of the finished fabric, as they
can with any fiber. The type of yarn, open end or ring
spun is a major contributing factor to how a fabric feels. Ring
spinning causes the fibers to lay down in a parallel fashion, where
open end yarns tend to have more fibers that have exposed ends, making that
yarn less soft to the touch than ring spun.
Finally, during wet processing (the scouring/bleaching/dyeing and finishing
process) many variables exist. Some of those could certainly result in a
change in the hand on the fabric. A ph level that is too high, temperatures
exceeding the limits of the fiber, any surface applications such as
anti-curling agents, flame retardants, softeners, etc.; any of these could
impact the look and the feel of the finished fabric.