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Bamboo - a Wonder Plant

2017-05-09 13:51:35 Writen By: Kiran Das

In this blog, we take a look at bamboo as an alternative renewable and a viable business model with long term benefits. Bamboo is a blessing in disguise for the humanity for its usefulness and transformational properties that allow it to be made into virtually everything and bespoke products. 


All around the world, there are hundreds of thousands of different plant species but there is one plant that stands above the rest in terms of usefulness and speed of growth. That plant is bamboo. Bamboo is one of the most fascinating useful plants in the world. Although it may look like a tree its actually considered to be a grass. Scientists have documented over 1000 different species of bamboo growing in various regions around the world. Bamboo forests grow naturally and stretch across large expanse throughout the south east asia.

For centuries, bamboo has been a miracle plant used by many as a sturdy building material and a viable source of food. More recently, new processes in bamboo manufacturing have made it possible to take an extremely hard substance such as bamboo and transform it into an ultra soft fabric that rivals the softness of luxury fabrics like silk and cashmere. In a time of global warming, depletion of resources and deforestation threaten the balance of the delicate natural world and its diverse ecosystems. Bamboo is making a name for itself as a viable solution and resource thats both remarkably useful and environmentally friendly.

Bamboo horticulturists consider bamboo to be one of the most sustainable renewable resources known on the planet. This is evidenced in some species of bamboo that have been known to grow up to four feet a day and reach maturity within two years. A mere fraction of the 50 to 60 years it takes for traditional timber to grow maturity and become ready for harvesting. After harvesting, bamboo rapidly self propagates and new bamboo forests quickly spring up preventing deforestation and soil erosion that is common with other types of timber harvests.

 

Bamboo Harvests

 

 

Unlike other plants, bamboo is naturally antibacterial and has no need for harmful pesticides and fertilisers that can be detrimental to the environment with carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere on the rise. Bamboo becomes a highly beneficial tool to clean the air with breathe. Bamboo and other plants convert carbon dioxide into clean breathable oxygen. However, bamboo does it much better than your average tree. Stands of bamboo can produce 35% more oxygen than an equivalent stand of trees helping each of us breathe a little bit easier.

 

Forests at display

 

Bamboo is a unique product that has a huge range of varieties from a foot tall to 50 feet tall. But they all share the same growth method which is totally unique. A bamboo shoot comes out of the ground at full diameter.

It grows to full height in a matter of weeks, branching out it leaves and finish. The combs are incredibly useful to make all matter of products from the shirt someone is wearing to bamboo flooring, furniture, fencing, and innumerable products. The canes are stronger that steel. Thomas edison used bamboo as reinforcing concrete in some of his experimental swimming pools and house structures because its cheaper than steel for the same strength, and lightweight properties. From building to food source, all part of the bamboo can be used. One of the more intriguing uses of bamboo is the recent production of bamboo into ultra soft and comfortable eco-friendly fabric. How can a material that has the tensile strength of steel be transformed into an ultra soft fabric. The answer lies in the incredibly unique manufacturing process that allows us to wear this remarkable plant.

 

Bamboo High Tensile Strength

 

It begins with the harvest of mature bamboo that is merely 2 years old. Getting the cut as clean as possible makes it possible for new shoots to grow and naturally replenish for the next harvest in two years time. The bamboo is then take and chopped into pieces resulting in piles of raw bamboo chips. The chips are then soaked in a solution which has been approved by the global organic textile standard. To ensure that this process is as environmentally friendly as the bamboo it soaks, this solution breaks down the bamboo fibres extracting the bamboo pulp that is then dried into parchment like sheets. Once thoroughly dried, these sheets are ready to be ground and spun into a soft fluffy material referred to as bamboo fiber. The fibre is then separated and spun into thread which is used to create yarn for weaving. The result is a cloth that is twice as soft as cotton and is compared to luxury fabrics like silk.

 

Bamboo Threads in Display

 

 

It can be made into products. From t-shirts to luxurious king size bed sheets, bamboo fabric is a remarkable material with properties that are unique and fascinating. One such property is that the cloth is naturally thermal regulating, keeping the body cooler when the weather is hot and warmer when its cold. It also wicks moisture away from the body keeping the wearer 4-5 degrees cooler than other conventional fabrics. When made into bed sheets, they are softer than 1000 thread count Egyptian cotton. Bamboo sheets are truly a comfortable yet eco-friendly way to enjoy a good night’s sleep. Bamboo fabric is quickly becoming a viable resource for several retailers.

 

Aside from clothing, bamboo can be transformed into a countless number of useful environmentally friendly products that will help the world be a little greener. As resources continue to deplete, bamboo stands strong as renewable resource that regrows almost as quickly as it can be consumed. It is truly a miracle plant that will eventually grow its way into all of our futures and become a reliable resource for centuries to come.

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Published In Assamese Handicrafts