The bamboo plant does not need pesticides or fertilizers, requires very little water, and can grow up to several feet per day. Bamboo also “breathes” heavily—a bamboo grove releases 35% more oxygen than other trees. Bamboo fabric is more absorbent than cotton, quick-drying, and has naturally occurring anti-microbial properties that help stop odor.
Factories that manufacture bamboo fibers use a process similar to that of rayon—using the caustic chemicals sodium hydroxide and carbon disulfide. “Greener” methods of making bamboo clothing are being developed, but the chemical method still has a smaller environmental impact than conventionally grown cotton and petroleum-based nylon and polyester fabrics.