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Thursday, June 10, 2010

Bamboo 101

Since this is Babykicks month and Babykicks uses Bamboo fabric in the inner lining of their pocket diaper, I thought it’d be great to talk about Bamboo today!

If you check a Bumboo tag, it says that it’s made from “70% Rayon (bamboo) and 30% Certified Organic Cotton.” Why? According to the FTC (Federal Trade Commission), any fabric created from a plant or tree, including bamboo, is called Rayon. So in keeping with the FTC guidelines, they call their bamboo rayon, but still tell you it comes from bamboo (6).

Why bamboo? First, bamboo fabric is very soft. In fact, many people with sensitive skin find it’s one of the few fabrics they can wear comfortably (2). Second, it is quite porous which makes it super absorbent and a perfect choice for diapers (4). And lastly, many claim that it has antimicrobial qualities which kills the smell-causing bacteria in diapers and leads to better-smelling diapers overall though the FTC claims that the antimicrobial quality of bamboo is destroyed in the process of creating the fabric (6).

So what kind of bamboo is it? The bamboo used to make fabric is called Moso Bamboo. Moso bamboo is normally grown on family farms and is a grass, not a tree (1). And good news for all the accidental plant killers out there, including me, bamboo is pretty sustainable because it can grow with a lot of water or very little. It isn’t too picky, though I’ve read that Moso Bamboo prefers “well-drained, red clay soil” (7). And it’s environmentally friendly too since it doesn’t require any pesticides or other chemicals to grow it well (1).

Bamboo is also considered “the fastest growing woody plant on Earth” (8). I’ve read different growth rates on several different sites. Some say it can grow 75 feet in 45-60 days (1), others say it can grow as much as 48 inches in just 24 hours (8). Either way, this makes bamboo a great plant to use commercially for things like fabric since it doesn’t take hundreds of years to reach maturity.

That’s all well and good, but how on Earth does bamboo go from a giant grass to a super soft and absorbent fabric? Organic bamboo fabric comes from the pulp of the bamboo. It’s separated into fibers and woven into cloth; it is often put in combination with cotton to make it more affordable and more durable (1).

Interested so far? Watch later in the month for Bamboo 102 when we’ll talk about the different fabrics that are good for diaper making.



Sources:

1. http://organic.lovetoknow.com/Organic_Bamboo_Fabric
2. http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-bamboo-fabric.htm
3. http://www.greenearthbamboo.com/Organic-Bamboo-Fabric-Facts-s/89.htm
4. http://www.zany-zebra.com/diaper-fabric.shtml
5. http://www.celticclothswholesale.com/pages/Bamboo_fabric.htm
6. http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2009/08/bamboo.shtm
7. http://www.mastergardenproducts.com/moso_bamboo.htm
8. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bamboo

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