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Since we learned so much about what makes bamboo eco or not in yesterday’s entry I decided to list three “Certified by Cara” super ecological bamboo products.

T-Shirt

OK, finding eco bamboo clothes I have decided is like the search for the Holy Grail. I mean no one is mechanically pounding bamboo into yarn, thread, or t-shirts for that matter. If they are their marketing/PR team is lacking the skills necessary to promote said bamboo products. Everyone who makes bamboo clothes is close, but no cigar. The best company I found so far is, Bamboo Body.

They state, “The bamboo in our fabric is grown in the Yunnan Province in China without the use of any chemicals or pesticides. The plantation is managed in strict accordance with the international organic OCIA/NOP standard.

Bamboo yarn is produced by pulverizing the bamboo stalks and then regenerating the fiber. This process does not use harmful chemicals. Our fabric is dyed using azo-free dyestuffs. Our factory operates in conformity with ISO9001:2000 quality standard and is committed to the environment by reducing emissions and recycling waste. The factory pays all workers appropriately and does not employ staff under the age of 18.

While bamboo is grown organically, without the use of pesticides or chemicals, bamboo fabric is not certified organic. The process of converting bamboo to yarn does not meet the strict criteria for organic certification.

Our bamboo fabric is certified by oeko-tex 100 standard which confirms that it is environmentally sound and does not include any harmful chemicals.”

Everyone else either states that oeko-tex 100 is not all it is cracked up to be or “that it is impossible to be 100% ecological, but as technology advances they hope to be”….technology…for all the companies waiting for the future to arrive, here is the past, what I like to call the anti-technological way, also known as the “mechanical way”. The mechanical way is done by crushing the woody parts of the bamboo plant and then use natural enzymes to break the bamboo walls into a mushy mass so that the natural fibers can be mechanically combed out and spun into yarn. This is essentially the same eco-friendly manufacturing process used to produce linen fabric from flax or hemp. Bamboo fabric made from this process is sometimes called bamboo linen. Very little bamboo linen is manufactured for clothing because it is more labor intensive and costly.” What that means is it messes with these “green” companies bottom line.

Chop It Up

The next company that makes the “Certified by Cara” seal is Totally Bamboo. I really like the twist chopstick set they sell. According to Totally Bamboo they had a chemist develop a high grade, non-toxic formaldehyde free food grade glue which they use exclusively on their cutting boards. Also. they do not use artificial dyes or stains. Their factory is ISO 9000 compliant which is a rating system covering non-polluting environmental issues and employee welfare, safety and minimum age. There are 2 colors, light and dark. The light is the natural color of bamboo. The dark is “cooked” to perfection, literally, a result of the heating process. The natural sugar in the wood is caramelized, producing the beautiful honey color. This is permanent and will not wash off. This allows the boards to be sanded if needed. They have other cool stuff on their site as well, like bamboo director chairs, for those eco Hollywood directors…lol.

Solid Horizontal-Grain Bamboo Flooring, Amber

Next to finding truly eco fabrics, eco flooring was the runner up as far as hard to locate. One company that receives the “Certified by Cara” seal, is Eco Timber.

This is what they have to say about how they are super awesome bamboo flooring rock stars, “EcoTimber bamboo flooring is made from bamboo plantations — not from wild habitats. Bamboo is a highly renewable resource, harvestable only four to six years after being planted. Its low moisture absorption properties make it ideal for humid climates and applications where moisture might pose a challenge for other types of flooring.

EcoTimber Bamboo flooring is made with a Low-VOC adhesive that easily meets the strict European E1 standard for indoor air quality.

There are currently dozens of bamboo flooring manufacturers, some of which have flooded the market with poorly-made products. Click here to see what sets them apart from others. ”

The business of greenwashing is becoming an art form these days as the big players are joining the “green” game. I expect it from them, but am sad to see some small business jumping on the greenwashing train to nowhere.

I thought this blog entry was going to be easy, but I was wrong.

Keep it real.

-Cara


Reason 98 from, 101 Reasons Why I Am Vegetarian:

Every year, 24,000 fishers die on the job, making fishing the most dangerous occupation in the world, according to the FAO/UN. Meatpacking has the highest serious injury rate by far of any occupation. Repetitive stress disorders and knife cuts are rampant in meat plants. Poultry processing workers earn wages that are, for a family of four, below the poverty level. Full-time contract poultry growers clear incomes of only $21,000 annually.

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Bamboo

I am on the “buy bamboo bandwagon”. I have been for awhile. I was thinking about it today, I have an idea why bamboo is considered a sustainable, environmentally-friendly substance, but just an idea. I decided on this lovely day to become informed and discover the truth behind bamboo.

Let’s start out with some interesting bamboo facts, one, bamboo is the fastest-growing plant on Earth. It has been clocked surging skyward as fast as 121 cm (47.6 inches) in a 24-hour period. It can also reach maximal growth rate which exceed one meter (40 inches) per hour for short periods of time. After harvesting, bamboo does not require replanting, it has an extensive root system that continually sends up new shoots, naturally replenishing itself, making it one of the most renewable resources known. It has also been around since the prehistoric era, which I just think is cool.

Next, there are 91 genera and about 1,000 species of bamboo, found in a number of diverse climates and you don’t need to spray them down with gallons of pesticides or fertilize them for them to thrive as they do so naturally. These variables make this plant more like a super weed, than a member of the true grass family, Poaceae and this is also what makes bamboo a renewable resource.

Fabrics made from bamboo have an extraordinary water absorbency quality. This characteristic makes bamboo fabric three times more absorbent than cotton. Bamboo fibers also keep moisture away from the skin, speeding up the evaporation process, keeping the wearer naturally drier and more comfortable. The fabrics made from bamboo are known to be extremely soft, breathable, hard to wrinkle and possess antibacterial properties! I also heard something about bamboo blocking out a large percentage of the Sun’s UV activity, but I could not find any solid facts on that, so wear your sun block, not your bamboo shirt, because skin cancer is a horrible thing to have!

There is one major man made issue which makes bamboo clothing either an eco product or not. It is the process it goes through before becoming the final product. There are two ways to process bamboo to make the plant into a fabric: mechanically or chemically.

To quote Organic Clothing’s blog, “The mechanical way is by crushing the woody parts of the bamboo plant and then use natural enzymes to break the bamboo walls into a mushy mass so that the natural fibers can be mechanically combed out and spun into yarn. This is essentially the same eco-friendly manufacturing process used to produce linen fabric from flax or hemp. Bamboo fabric made from this process is sometimes called bamboo linen. Very little bamboo linen is manufactured for clothing because it is more labor intensive and costly.

Chemically manufactured bamboo fiber is a regenerated cellulose fiber similar to rayon or modal. Chemically manufactured bamboo is sometimes called bamboo rayon because of the many similarities in the way it is chemically manufactured and similarities in its feel and hand.

Most bamboo fabric that is the current eco-fashion rage is chemically manufactured by “cooking” the bamboo leaves and woody shoots in strong chemical solvents such as sodium hydroxide (NaOH – also known as caustic soda or lye) and carbon disulfide in a process also known as hydrolysis alkalization combined with multi-phase bleaching. Both sodium hydroxide and carbon disulfide have been linked to serious health problems. Breathing low levels of carbon disulfide can cause tiredness, headache and nerve damage. Carbon disulfide has been shown to cause neural disorders in workers at rayon manufacturers. Low levels of exposure to sodium hydroxide can cause irritation of the skin and eyes. Sodium hydroxide is a strong alkaline base also known as caustic soda or lye. In its dry crystalline form, caustic soda is one of the major ingredients of Drano. This is basically the same process used to make rayon from wood or cotton waste byproducts. Because of the potential health risks and damage to the environment surrounding the manufacturing facilities, textile manufacturing processes for bamboo or other regenerated fibers using hydrolysis alkalization with multi-phase bleaching are not considered sustainable or environmentally supportable.”

What I learned today is bamboo alone is a renewable, sustainable, and abundant resource that grows organically in its natural habitat, but before you go and brag or even buy your bamboo clothes you need to ask the company what is their manufacturing process to make said bamboo fabric. Look for the Oeko-Tek certification. Oeko-Tek certification identifies textiles that are free of processing chemicals, although it does not ensure the environmental soundness of the entire manufacturing process. The same thing goes for your bamboo floors, bamboo cutting boards, your bamboo everything.

You’ve been schooled.

-Cara


Reason 97 from, 101 Reasons Why I Am Vegetarian:

To produce foie gras, male ducks are force-fed a stomach-gorging cup of corn pellets three times a day with a 15-inch feeder tube. This torturous process goes on for 28 days until the ducks’ livers, from which the pâté is made, miasmatically bloat to 10 times normal size. Mortalities are high due to the disease, intense stress, and burst stomachs. For days prior to slaughter, each bird will pant for air. So cruel are these practices that foie gras production is now outlawed in at least a dozen countries.

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