Monday, 7 June 2010

Farming future fibres



-Life Cycle of Bamboo Series-


The environmental sustainability of bamboo fibre originates at the farming level, as this is where bamboo's self-sustainable characteristics best exemplify its' limited effect on the environment.


Bamboo as a commercial crop doesn’t need much help – it thrives and regenerates naturally without the use of pesticides, and with few farming inputs. A natural bio agent found in the bamboo plant is known as ‘bamboo kun’ and acts as a kind of self protecting barrier, which is what keeps the plant healthy without needing any polluting agricultural chemicals. Bamboo kun is bound to the plant at the molecular level and is the same substance which gives finished bamboo products their antibacterial properties. Bamboo also grows incredibly rapidly, and as a commercial crop will start to yield within 3-5 years of planting. Bamboo will also grow on slopes where nothing else is viable.


Unlike cotton, Bamboo does not require much water to grow, and can be grown in dry conditions thus making it a more sustainable crop. It needs about one quarter of the amount of water that cotton does.


As bamboo regenerates naturally, it doesn’t need replanting after it has been harvested, making it an easily renewable resource. This also saves heavy replanting machinery from over working the soil.


The structure of bamboo itself is also good for maintaining the soil it grows in, due to its large and deep root system being thickly clumped balls, which helps keep soil together and prevent erosion. Bamboo’s self sufficiency continues as any debris that falls from a growing clump of bamboo also fertilises the ground at the base of the bamboo culms and feeds it, eventually fertilising the soil as well.


Bamboo is a grass, not a tree. The significance of this is seen in its harvesting, as it is cut, not uprooted, further preventing soil erosion. Also, as a grass it absorbs far more carbon dioxide and emits more oxygen than a tree does, limiting the commercial affects on climate change.


Currently bamboo is not grown commercially in Australia, except as a food product. As there are no commercial plantations outside of China, there are inevitably carbon emissions associated with the shipping and transport. Temporarily we unfortunately need to take this environmental impact into account, and of course we would love to source locally if we could.


Bamboo fibre that makes Eureco’s towels originates from a company in China called Bambrotex. The raw material is grown in non-polluted regions in Yunnan and Sichuan Provinces. Bambrotex produces bamboo fibre strictly in adherence with international standards ISO9000 and ISO 14000.


Our manufacturing partner Santens is committed to ensuring their supply partners, including Bambrotex employ their staff in ethical and fair labour conditions, including farmers working in the bamboo crops.



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