The big bamboo revolution

The big bamboo revolution
Business Circular Economy Sustainability
Bamboo has made a name in the sustainability revolution. But what makes it so special?
Zoe Hertelendi

Zoe Hertelendi Author

Sustainability Expert
Sustainability Expert, Founder of EdamameEco

Can you imagine a beautiful material which is sustainable in every possible way? It sounds too good to be true, but bamboo has a superpower to address many challenges!

For a long time, the only choice for green promotional items was to go with the ’boring brown’ products. Bamboo can easily replace disposable plastic in many cases which makes it easier for companies to build a better image without compromising quality, design or sustainability.

What makes bamboo so unique?

Classified as grass, not a tree, and under the right circumstances, it can grow up to a metre a week with high density. The water-use efficiency of this grass is twice that of trees, which makes it more able to handle harsh weather conditions such as drought and high temperatures.

This plant contains a substance called bamboo-kun: an antimicrobial agent that gives the plant a natural resistance to pest and fungi infestation. That brings a great benefit to managing bamboo as there is no need for pesticides or fertilisers when growing it, allowing natural habitat to thrive.

Planting bamboo can also help slow deforestation, providing an alternative source of timber for the construction industry and cellulose fibre for homewares and other sectors. It can help to reduce carbon emissions and generates up to 35% more oxygen than equivalent stands of trees. One hectare of bamboo absorbs 62 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year while one hectare of a young forest only takes 15 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year.

Cotton versus bamboo

Compared to cotton, which is a thirsty crop, bamboo requires no irrigation. It can take up to 20,000 litres of water to produce 1 kg of cotton. Given the fact that 73% of the global cotton harvest comes from irrigated land, that means a big difference in the overall impact.

Its clumping nature enables a higher yield in a small area, 60 tonnes per hectare compared to the return of 1-2 tonnes per hectare for cotton.

When harvested, it re-shoots from its extensive root system, naturally replenishes itself and does not require replanting.

The fabric made out of bamboo is incredibly soft, 40% more absorbent than even the finest organic cotton, wicking moisture away from the skin much faster, and keeping you dry and comfortable. In addition to that, it provides natural UV protection, hypoallergic and antibacterial and acts as an excellent insulator – practically helps you to stay cooler in summer and warmer in winter.

Trendy and sustainable promotional products

Nowadays, bamboo fibre products offer a great option in branding, inlcuding coffee cups, lunch boxes, t-shirts, tote bags, lanyards, pens, notebooks, and even sunglasses with a stylish look.

Compared to plastic, bamboo products are much kinder to the environment. It takes up to 1000 years for plastic to biodegrade, and even then it never entirely disappears. With 17 billion pounds of plastic ending up in the ocean every year, it’s safe to say that bamboo is always a better solution. If buried in the ground, the bamboo fibre product will decompose in 2-3 years.

Even though bamboo is an excellent material, it can be tricky to ensure an ethical supply chain, not causing any negative social impact along the way.

An Irish company, EdamameEco which provides sustainable promotional product alternatives for branding, sourcing bamboo from Anji County in China, one of the world’s oldest, sustainably managed forests. They have been commercially harvesting bamboo in this region for several hundred years. The bamboo industry in Anji sustains 10,000 farming families and represents the new face of manufacturing in China: clean and sustainable.

One of the side effects of the COVID19 pandemic is the rise of single use plastic and non-biodegradable products such as hand-sanitizer bottles and face masks, which ends up in the landfills and pollute our environment. With a slight change in the mind-sets, like using silicone bottles or face masks made of natural fibres, we could have a massive impact and avoid unnecessary harm.

After considering all these features, it does not come as a surprise that bamboo is considered to be one of the most popular eco-friendly fabrics on the planet.


Zoe Hertelendi

Zoe Hertelendi Author

Sustainability Expert
Sustainability Expert, Founder of EdamameEco