I'm super excited about our new retail bags here in the office. They are made of bamboo, a renewable resource that grows quickly and without pesticides or synthetic fertilizers. This allows bamboo-based paper and cloth to have less impact on our earth.
In addition, they are quite sturdy and can be reused several times.
A bamboo grove also releases up to 35 percent more oxygen into the air than a similar-sized grove of trees, and it matures and can be replanted within seven years (compared to 30-50 years for a stand of trees), helping to improve soil conditions and prevent erosion along the way. Bamboo grows so quickly that it can yield 20 times more timber than trees on the same area.
Bamboo can also be used to make fabric. Softer than cotton and with a texture more akin to silk or cashmere, bamboo clothing naturally draws moisture away from the skin, so it’s great for hot weather or for sweaty workouts. It also dries in about half the time as cotton clothing. Look for bamboo bedding, towels and rugs, too.
Some critics point out that the process of converting bamboo to fabric can take a heavy environmental toll, with the most cost-effective and widespread method involving a harsh chemical-based hydrolysis-alkalization process followed by multi-phase bleaching. The Green Guide counters, though, that bamboo still has a much lower environmental impact than pesticide-laden conventional cotton and petroleum-derived nylon and polyester fabrics. And some brands (such as Gaiam) are sourcing bamboo fabrics made with lower-eco-impact methods including stringent water purification steps.