Organic Coffee Reaches $1 billion Mark in US

Photosource: littlepaperplanes.com

According to recently announced 2007 data by the Organic Coffee Collaboration (a project of the Organic Trade Association), the organic coffee market in the US reached the $1 billion last year.

Participants in the Collaboration are: Dallis Coffee (New York City, NY), Elan Organic Coffees (San Diego, CA), Equal Exchange (West Bridgewater, MA) , Fresh Harvest Products (New York City, NY), Green Mountain Coffee Roasters (Waterbury, VT), and Swiss Water Decaffeinated Coffee Company (Vancouver, Canada).

The amount of organic coffee imported into the U.S. and Canada increased 29 percent from 2006-2007 from approximately 65 million pounds to approximately 84 million pounds, according to Mr. Daniele Giovannucci, author of the upcoming North American Organic Coffee Industry Survey. Most of the 84 million pounds of coffee was sold in the United States.

  • The organic coffee market has grown average of 32 percent annually between 2000 and 2007 and shows no signs of decreasing.
  • In fact, some large companies, such as Starbucks (who happen to be the largest purchaser of organic coffee) have not had enough supply to meet the demand.
  • Organic farm conversion takes an average of 3 years to achieve, not to mention the significant human and physical capital required. With that said, it is suspected that over the next several years, the market will continue to increase as more and more coffee chains integrate organic into their coffee bean portfolio.
  • Conventional coffee market growth pales in comparison to organic with an estimated 2 percent annual growth rate over the last several years.

What is organic coffee? Organic coffee is grown using methods and materials that have a low impact on the environment and must conform to strict organic growing and processing standards. For example, organic production systems replenish and maintain soil fertility, avoid the use of toxic and persistent pesticides and fertilizers, and build biologically diverse agriculture. In addition, fair wage practices must be adopted. Third-party certification organizations verify that organic farmers use only methods and materials allowed in organic production.

*Organic coffee is grown in 40 countries worldwide, including the United States (Hawaii).

For more information on certification, see the OTA and the Organic Certification, Trade Association body, CCOF.org.

Organic coffee growing so often supports local communities and farmers from Latin America, to Asia and Africa. Finca Alta Gracia is one such farm in the Dominican Repulic, to learn more check out their farm.

Feeling the Brunt of Food Prices: Organics


Photosource: Linda Coan for the NY Times

The NY Times reported last week on the ‘sticker shock’ associated with organic products. While the organic market has seen unprecedented booms in the last few years, the recent economic downturn coupled with rising fuel and grain costs, have begun penetrate the organic market too. Consumers and farmers alike are feeling the hit.

Facing the front line pain of the increases are the organic farmers themselves, who are being forced to move back into conventional farming and/or pass along the increases onto consumers. Because the price differential between conventional and organic on certain products is so great, some consumers are now opting out of buying organic for the first time.

Two comparisons:

Eggs: regular eggs now average $1.34 – $3.59 for a dozen, whereas organic ranges from $3.99 – $6.39. For a large egg-eating household that is a 3-fold difference.
Milk: regular milk ranges from $1.99 – $2.99 and organic ranging form $3.29 – $4.99.

Overall, the consumer price index for groceries has increased 5% in the last year; however, some staples like eggs have jumped as much as 30% and milk as much as 13%. On average, organic products cost between 20 and 100% more than its conventional counterparts.

Some farmers have decided to switch back to conventional due to the high costs in grains and other products. In the last six months, 25 farmers in the Northeast have either retired early or stopping organic farming.

Americans spent $16.7 billion on organic food and beverages in 2006, representing a 126% increase in five years. While there is still room for growth, as organic sales only reach 2.8% of total food and beverage sales, with the rising prices, we may see a plateau in sales for some time to come.

In addition, in 2005, the United States had 14.1 million acres of organic farmland, which is 3x’s the amount in 1997. Yet, it appears that this growth may also be beginning to taper. Prices for organic soybeans, corn, and wheat are at or near record highs. When these staples rise, so does the rest of the food chain and products derived from these grains. In general, making the switch from conventional to organic farming requires a 3-year process, plus tons of paperwork and investment of resources. Farmers are increasingly thinking hard about making that transition.

All this points to the important conclusion that as much as we all want to be green and organic, (as poll after poll suggests that we do), there are limits to this greenness in our wallets. Prices matter, especially in an increasingly challenging marketplace. One question I have: do organic farms receive the same federal subsidies that conventional farming does? Depending on the answer, this could make a big difference in making the grains more affordable…food for thought.

For more information on this story, please see NYTimes.

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Ode to StonyfieldFarm!

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Stonyfield Farm (SF) is one of my favorite all-time companies. They make great yogurt, delicious ice cream and good quality milk. They happen to be the world’s largest supplier of organic yogurt, and had about $260 million in sales last year. They are profitable, incredibly GREEN and have been that way for the last 2 decades. SF is not only socially and environmentally conscious but they are ACTIVE participants in the environmental movement in at least half a dozen ways and pro-actively engage their customers in this movement as well.

While some might suggest Stonyfield is a deviation from Green Cotton, I would argue that this company is worth discussing for several reasons. Stonyfield is a GREAT example of a green company that has set a pioneering example since the 1980’s of what can be done to be more sustainable, green and socially responsible. Stonyfield’s latest move (in the news this week) also warrants some attention. Stonyfield just moved toward 100% organic (certified) in ALL of their product lines. For a company of this size (with worldwide distribution) this is no small feat!

What’s more, SF has figured out a way to do all this while remaining incredibly profitable, growing larger each year, and even investing 10% of all profits back into the environment!

I had the privilege of hearing Gary Hirshberg (President and CE-Yo) two years ago at a Baltimore City event on ‘farm-to-table’ issues at Symphony Hall. The event served to raise awareness on environmentally friendly and sustainable agriculture as well as local producers and companies who actively engage in environmentally sustainable practices. Gary was one of the keynote speakers and is one of the most inspirational, hard-working and articulate leaders in the green space that I have met. What he has done with Stonyfield is a truly inspirational story for anyone working in this field.

So while SF was already very GREEN, this week, they went even-Greener by rolling out their 100% organic certified product lines. As such, Stonyfield has just stepped up the precedent for large companies with a whole new gold standard of practice.

Top Reasons why Stonyfield is Remarkable.

  • Active engagement in preserving the earth. Stonyfield is a socially and environmentally conscious company that ACTIVELY engages their customers in the environmental movement. They promote sustainable agriculture, and work hard to protect and restore the environment.
  • Lids with a Purpose. If you have never purchased a SF yogurt, you may not be aware that each lid (which does not have ANY plastic by the way) has a message, and an issue on it. In some cases you can send in the caps to your senator or some other environmental group, or you send them back to SF and they will send ‘en masse’ to Washington or elsewhere to support a particular cause. In return you also receive, things such as an environmental action mug, or a grocery bag (alternative to plastic) and other useful gifts.
  • Recycling. Stonyfield has an amazing recycling program. They have teamed up with Recycline to make plastic household products such as razors and toothbrushes with SF’s used plastic. In addition, with polypropylene #5 plastic packaging, we use significantly less plastic than if their cups were HDPE #2 plastic. Some communities, however, don’t recycle #5 containers. If you can’t recycle #5’s in your community, SF allows you to send your cleaned #5 plastic cups back to Stonyfield Farm and they will recycle them.
  • Profits for the Planet. Stonyfield donates 10% of their profits to programs that benefit the preservation of the earth.
  • In addition, Gary Hirshberg recently started a group called Climate Counts in which they reviewing and then scoring prominent companies and their contributions to climate change (+ and -).
  • BLOGs. Stonyfield Farm also has two blogs – staying up to date on key issues and making sure others are as well.
  • Wellness: they have a wellness space on their site, which includes information on health and nutrition and interesting nuggets on how to stay fit, healthy and strong. Dr. Bill Sears is a part of this Wellness space and offers useful tips to loyal customers on how to stay healthy.

Finally, there is SO much more on their site, that I am leaving out. I encourage you to check them out Stonyfield Farm.
In addition to all this cool stuff they are doing, Stonyfield is STILL an incredibly profitable company and successful on all fronts. In 2006, they had an estimated $260 million in sales, and are the world’s leading producer of organic yogurt (owned by the Danone Group). They sell organic yogurts, smoothies, soy-yogurts, ice cream and milk to supermarkets, natural foods stores and colleges nationwide.

Go Stonyfield! May there be many an eco-fashion company that humbly follows in your footsteps….

Tests Reveal High Chemical Levels In Kids’ Bodies

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CNN ran an interesting story this week on increased chemical levels in children and their potentially harmful health effects. Gradually, more information is becoming available on various chemicals (such as PBDEs and phthalates) present in our environment and their corresponding health risks. Several years ago marked the first large human study using a chemical burden ‘biomonitoring’ technology to test for chemical legacy in human bodies. The test was opened to infants and young children.

CNN highlights parents, Michelle Hammond and Jeremiah Holland, who agreed to test their children and have since become advocates for better chemical regulation and safety on consumer products. While initially intrigued with the study, Michelle and Jeremiah were later shocked to discover that their kids had 18 times more potentially harmful chemicals in their bodies than their parents generation (and at such a young age).

Key chemicals of focus include PBDE’s (flame retardants) and phthalates (used in plastics) among others. The issues around chemical exposure are heated to say the least. Industry representatives will be quick to point out that there is little evidence of harmful effects, while on the other hand, some consumer advocates and children’s health medical professionals sit on the other side of the pendulum.

For example, Dr. Leo Trasande, assistant director of the Center for Children’s Health and the Environment at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City, notes “we are in an epidemic of environmentally mediated disease among American children today.” He adds, “rates of asthma, childhood cancers, birth defects and developmental disorders have exponentially increased, and it can’t be explained by changes in the human genome. So what has changed? All the chemicals we’re being exposed to.”

However not everyone agrees that we should be immediately alarmed. Some public health advocates caution that we not jump to conclusions. In some cases, no known harmful effects exist, and in other cases, we still need more research.

Nonetheless, shouldn’t we be safe rather than sorry? Who wants to expose their infants to potentially harmful chemicals through blankets, carpets, couches and clothes if they don’t need to? Shouldn’t we protect infants from exposure to these chemicals UNTIL we are certain they are not at all harmful?

Dr. Trasande reinforces the notion that children are more susceptible with his comment that “pound for pound, [kids] eat more food, they drink more water, they breathe in more air”. ” So [children] carry a higher body burden than we do.” In addition, ‘children up to six years old are most at risk because their vital organs and immune system are still developing and because they depend more heavily on their environments than adults do.’

One Solution: Organic fabrics and fibers for household items, especially those that interface with infants and young children, such as blankets, towels, couches, rugs and clothing are just a few of the ways we can reduce chemical exposure to children.


TOXIC CHEMICAL PRIMER

Primary sources: CNN‘s article on ‘tests reveal high chemical levels in kid’s bodies’ and wikipedia

1. PBDEs
Polybrominated diphenyl ethers. PBDEs are flame retardant chemicals. They can be readily found in foam products such as mattresses, couches, and carpets as well as plastics (including casings for TVs, computers and other electronics).

Health Concerns: Animal studies show that PBDEs can cause liver, thyroid and neurological damage in lab rats. Health experts worry particularly about the potential harmful effects to fetuses and young children (under 6). Toxicity studies on these chemicals have just begun however and more work needs to be done.

2. Phthalates
These are chemicals that make plastics soft and pliable. They are found in many different kinds of plastic bottles, containers, kitchen wraps, soft toys and medical devices. Phthalates are also used as solvents for fragrances. As a result, they are in numerous personal care products such as shampoos, conditioners, lotions, perfumes, nail polish and cosmetics.

According to Wikipedia, ‘as of 2004, manufacturers produce about 400,000 tons (800 million pounds or 363 million kilograms) of phthalates each year. They were first produced during the 1920s, and have been produced in large quantities since the 1950s, when PVC was introduced. ‘

Phthalates are typically found in solvents, perfumes and pesticides as well as nail polish, fishing lures, adhesives, caulk, paint pigments, and sex toys.

Health Concerns:
Animal studies indicate that phthalates disrupt hormone levels causing neurological dysfunction and reproductive defects in lab rats. Preliminary studies on humans should that phthalate exposure may be associated with genital birth defects in males as well as infertility in men.

Interestingly however, according to the Phthalates Information Center. They write on their website, ‘there is no solid evidence for the health claims. ‘There is no reliable evidence that any phthalate has ever caused a health problem for a human from its intended use.’ However, this website is maintained by industry representatives so it is to their benefit to minimize health risks and promote the benefits of the chemicals.

3. Bisphenol A
This is a chemical used to make plastics hard. It can be found in polycarbonate plastic products such as baby bottles as well as hard bottles, and food containers. It can also be found in the resin lining of aluminum cans and some dental sealants.

Health concerns: A study published in the journal of Reproductive Toxicology found a link between biphenyl A and female reproductive disorders such as cystic ovaries and cancers. ‘In August, an expert panel from the NIH expressed concern that bisphenol A may harm children and adults recommended more be done.

4. Perfluorooctanoic acids
These are chemicals used to make nonstick and stain resistant products such as nonstick frying pans and water resistant materials.

Health concerns:
PFOAs have demonstrated associations with causing developmental problems and liver toxicity in lab rats. Animal studies have revealed concern among health experts about their toxicity to humans, primarily because they can stay in the body for years at a time between exposures. Some studies have also suggested that PFOAs may be human carcinogens.

5. PCBs
Polychlorinated biphenyls have been around for a long time. They are chemicals used as coolants and lubricants in transformers, capacitors and other electrical equipment. They can also be found in older models of microwaves and refrigerators. Due to their toxicity, they were banned in the US in the 1970’s, but as they are long-lasting compounds, they persist in the environment.

Health Concerns:
The EPA calls PCBs a probable carcinogen, meaning that they may cause cancer. PCBs have been associated with immunological and neurobehavioral changes in children such as problems with motor skills and a decrease in short-term memory. In adults, PCBs are associated with rashes, acne and liver damage.

Important to note also is that even though PCBs were banned in the 70s in the US, they are not banned in many other parts of the world. Furthermore, many of the machines and equipment used in the US in the 70s and 80s ended up in places like India which house some of the largest quantities of e-waste in the world.

According to an article posted in the SF Chronicle, these chemicals and other byproducts from electronic equipment are not being disposed of properly and are actively contaminating waterways, soil and densely populated human environments. According to the International Resources Group based in Washington, D.C., ‘as the Indian economy…accelerated in recent years, consumers have been upgrading cell phones, computers, televisions, audio equipment, printers and refrigerators, annually churning out 146,180 tons of e-waste laden with chemicals.’

‘These machines contain more than a thousand toxins, including beryllium in computer motherboards, cadmium in semiconductors, chromium in floppy disks, lead in batteries and computer monitors, and mercury in alkaline batteries and fluorescent lamps, according to Greenpeace. India is expected to triple its e-waste production within the next five years.’

Check out CNN’s video on this topic here.

FINAL TIP: If you interested in checking out the chemical compositition and relative toxicity of various cosmetic products on the market, check out Skin Deep - the Cosmetic Safety Database. This site will provide you with detailed information on what is in your products and how safe they are.

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Photo sources: Flickr

Bamboo Resources

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Photo source: Flickr by BNZ


For those interested in Bamboo: the art and science, history and culture, I encourage you to check out the following resources:

American Bamboo Society (ABS)
ABS was formed in 1979 and currently has over 1,400 members throughout the U.S. and in 37 other countries. ABS issues a bimonthly Magazine and Journal to disseminate information on the use, care, propagation and ‘beauty’ of bamboo.

There are a number of resources on this site, including an exhaustive list of potential uses for bamboo as a raw material. Interestingly, I did not see clothing on there! Perhaps the ABS would consider revising that aspect of the site with the growing innovations in the area of bamboo apparel.

Another great resource on the site is ongrowing bamboo’ planting and care to different climate & growing conditions, key issues and challenges, and helpful tips to horticulturists. In addition, there is a listing of bamboo companies in China (historically one of the major world producers of bamboo in the world, with several species indigenous to the country).

If you think ABS is a one of a kind operation, you will be happy to learn that this is not the case: there are a plethora of bamboo societies all over the world. In fact, ABS is just one of many longstanding international organizations that gather, disseminate and discuss information on bamboo as well as foster bamboo communities.

As evidenced in part by the long history of these societies it is clear that bamboo has held a certain prestige and value as a plant for centuries in many societies across the globe. What is new is the use of bamboo for apparel.

Bamboo societies are in Africa, Australia, Brazil, China, Colombia, Guatemala, India, Japan, Indonesia, Italy, and elsewhere.

International resources

The international Network for Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR) created by the International Development Research Centre of Canada
International Bamboo Foundation
This foundation is awesome! This 501(c)3 and the Environmental Bamboo Foundation (EBF) of Indonesia were both founded by Linda Garland, an international designer and environmentalist who has lived in Indonesia for over 20 years. With base operations on Maui, Hawaii, EBF built the first five all bamboo buildings in the US. The next eight buildings were recently approved for construction but the difficulty in gaining approval without accepted building code standards remains challenging.

Environmental Bamboo Foundation (Indonesia) EBF is an Indonesian non-profit organization with the goal to protect tropical forests by promoting and demonstrating the many conservation and development opportunities that bamboo offers. In less than three years, EBF has put bamboo on the conservation-development agenda while generating increased international interest in bamboo. Based in Bali, EBF Indonesia has affiliate non-profit organizations in America (IBF) and Holland.

World Bamboo Organization
Mission: to promote and support the use of bamboo as a sustainable, alternative natural resource through the development of partnerships and global communication, information exchange, and technology transfer.
Originally founded as the International Bamboo Association (IBA), the idea for an international coordinating body for bamboo practitioners came from the 1991 International Bamboo Workshop in Chiang Mai, Thailand. The IBA was officially established at the 1992 International Bamboo Congress in Japan.

Bamboo Processing Considerations II

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**Important notice: Green Cotton has moved to a new host. For our most up-to-date posts and current blog, please visit www.greencottonblog.com (or click on any of these hyperlinks). You can read more on this particular post and also comment on it by going to greencottonblog.This is one of Green Cotton’s most popular posts.

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By Shana

The advantage of many renewable fibers such as bamboo is that they can be grown without petroleum based toxic pesticides, herbicides and defoliates such as those that are typically used in cotton growing.

Despite the nearly impeccable growing characteristics of bamboo, there are some concerns associated with its processing (as noted in my recent post Bamboo Processing Considerations I). Since that post, I have come across evidence suggesting that there are companies currently processing bamboo in a low impact manner.

At Green Festivals in DC, I visited Jonano, one of the best eco-fashion apparel stores in my view, and spoke with Bonnie Seifers (owner and designer of the company). According to Bonnie, it is possible to process bamboo without harsh chemicals and damaging environmental impacts. Her process (obviously proprietary) does not use bleaching and is apparently organic. Jonano carries a range of organic clothes for men, women and children with a fashionable, yet comfortable look. Many of her fabrics derived from bamboo and processed into her own proprietary blend called ecoKashmere.

Further to the green bamboo processing argument, last weekend I had the opportunity to visit Envi, a relatively new eco-friendly clothing store on Newbury Street in Boston, MA. Envi carries a broad range of green apparel labels from Stuart + Brown, to Panda Snack, Twice Shy and Toggle as well as Edun.

While small, the store carries a variety of styles including some of the softest, most appealing bamboo shirts and skirts I have seen. In chatting with the salesperson, I learned that at least some of the companies producing bamboo clothing are borrowing from the practices of Tencel production and reusing the solvents throughout the pulverizing and combing process, such that environmental damage is minimized. So it may be the case that the bamboo clothes (at least those in Envi Be Green and by Jonano) are more green than originally thought.

While it is very difficult to get a solid handle on exact bamboo processing steps and components, Tencel production appears to be one of closest comparison. Tencel is similar to bamboo in a number of respects.

Tencel is the brand name for a fiber generically called lyocell, and lyocell is a man-made fiber from natural wood pulp. It has proven popular in clothing primarily because it is absorbant , soft and comfortable. It is particularly appealing in high humidity climates. Lyocell (or tencel) is stronger that cotton and rayon and does not lose strength when wet. It is frequently blended with cotton or polyester, typically in oven fabrics. It is manufactured using a solvent spinning process, but the solvent is reused so that there is little environmental exposure.

Patagonia, a remarkably innovative outdoor clothing company with one of the most pioneering green track records of the last two decades has been using tencel for quite some time. According to Kill Vlahos, environmental analysis director for Patagonia, “Tencel production is a closed loop system. All solvents remaining after processing are reused; none gone into the waste steam. Most processors won’t talk about bamboo processing. They say it’s a proprietary process. We need disclosure, and the information we get has to reveal true environmental advantages for us to consider the fiber.” Source: ‘All Natural” in http://www.geartrends.com Winter 2005

So if this is also the case for Bamboo, then we are looking at a much more eco-friendly product. However I dare say that not all companies are embracing the closed loop production process (without multi-stage bleaching). At Green Festivals, I asked as many vendors as possible who were selling bamboo fabrics/products, and only one of them, Jonano confirmed organic, eco-friendly processing. Others, such as Pure Fiber, mentioned that they do not have full information on the processing, since it is proprietary and done before they get the fabric (in places such as Pakistan).

Hopefully someday we will have a better certification process available that will also include the processing of these fibers. Until that time however, it is important to ask questions on the sourcing of materials and make sure that the processing meets your own standards of green-ness.

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Source: Flickr (Ewe Give Me Knits!)

Top photo source: Flickr (spiffxp)

Bamboo: Processing Considerations

Organic Clothing Blog recently brought our attention to the important distinction between bamboo, the miracle plant, and bamboo fiber, the more troublesome fabric. While bamboo is indisputably one of the world’s most sustainable and eco-friendly grass plants, the clothing fiber is not easy to produce from the raw grass, nor apparently as sustainable. Manufacturing the fiber into a usable fabric appears to be wrought with environmentally concerning effects.

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Two well know processes exist for producing regenerated bamboo fiber:

1) Chemical Processing: Sodium hydroxide (NaOH- also known as caustic soda or lye) is used to ‘cook’ the fiber into a form of regenerated cellulose fiber
carbon disulfide is used for hydrolysis alkalization combined with multi phase
bleaching. This process produces a fiber also known as bamboo rayon or modal.
Chemical processing is the most popular bamboo fiber regeneration process.

2) Mechanical Processing: In mechanical transformation, machines are used to crush the woody parts of the bamboo plant; natural enzymes are then used to break the bamboo into a mushy mass at which point the individual fibers are combed out and spun into a yarn. This is similar to the process used to make linen. As such, the end product in this process is also known as bamboo linen. This process is much less popular than chemical, primarily because it is much more labor intensive and costly.

Both processes present environmental hazards and harmful health effects. As for the chemicals (the more widespread process), breathing in carbon disulfide is known to cause tiredness, headache and nerve damage among the exposed. At factory plants it is also associated with neural disorders among rayon manufacturers.

Low levels of exposure to sodium hydroxide is also known to cause irritation of the eyes and skin. As a strong alkaline base in its crystalline form, caustic soda (NaOH) is one of the major ingredients of Drano. These same chemicals are used not only for bamboo, but in standard rayon processing from wood or cotton waste byproducts.

Because of the health risks posed by these chemicals, coupled with the negative environmental impacts in surrounding factory plants, bamboo manufacturing, like other regenerated fibers produced using hydrolysis alkalization, is not considered eco-friendly, nor sustainable. However, important to note is that some companies ARE producing bamboo organically, using processing that do not involve bleaching.

Yet, what is the alternative? When assessing environmental impacts, we must always weigh the alternatives, one of which is traditional cotton. In the case of cotton, while in some cases the processing may be less chemical intensive (although not always) the growing is one of the most environmentally destructive crops in the world both in terms of water and pesticide use.

In addition, it appears there are some organic bamboo processing pioneers out there and more are on the way. I am certain that it is only a question of time before we develop environmentally friendly processes to transform the pulp into fine fibers. Consider the green progress made in household cleaning, lawn fertilizer and pesticide products. It is only a question of time before we discover greener methods for bamboo processing, too.

Additional advantages of Bamboo: Bamboo fabric is very soft and can be worn directly next to the skin. Many people who experience allergic reactions to other natural fibers, such as wool or hemp, do not complain of this issue with bamboo. The fiber is naturally smooth and round without chemical treatment, meaning that there are no sharp spurs to irritate the skin. (Source: Wise Geek.com)

More on Bamboo (wisegeek.com): Bamboo fiber resembles cotton in its unspun form, a puffball of light, airy fibers.

Photo Credit: Organic Clothing Blog

clipped from organicclothing.blogs.com

What do conventional fashion designers Diane vonFurstenberg,
Oscar de la Renta, Kate O’Connor, Agnes B and eco-fashion designers Amanda Shi of Avita, Linda
Loudermilk, Katherine Hamnett, Miho Aoki and Thuy Pham at United Bamboo, Sara Kirsner at Doie Designs, and clothing
manufacturers Bamboosa, Shirts Of Bamboo, Jonano, HTnaturals
in Canada and Panda Snack, and fabric
manufacturers Table Bay Spinners of
South Africa, Richfield Tang Knits Ltd.
in Mauritius have in common? Bamboo.
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.

Lindaloudermilkfashions

The manufacturing processes where bamboo the
plant is transformed into bamboo the fabric are where the sustainability and
eco-friendly luster of bamboo is tarnished because of the heavy chemicals

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About Green Cotton

Green Cotton is a website to gather, review, analyze and publish information on the eco-apparel industry. Not limited to green or organic cotton, the site includes posts on all emerging eco-friendly fabrics, products, stores and individuals. Green Cotton includes information on bamboo, soy, jute, hemp, ramie, and recycled fabrics in addition to organic cotton. Factors that contribute to successful companies including the pioneering individuals are also featured.

Please send your comments and questions to: Greencottonblog@gmail.com

Bamboo: wonder fiber of the day.

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Indeed, bamboo appears to be emerging as the 21st century miracle plant. With uses as diversified as wood paneling (for floors, fences, landscaping, you name it) to paper, clothing, and food (bamboo shoots, or seeds as grains), coupled with zero pesticide dependence, and minimal water or other requirements, it is no wonder that the plant is highly esteemed. In taking a closer look at the plant, two core characteristics emerge as top-rate:

  1. It is naturally anti-bacterial and antifungal, lending itself to not require pesticides for effective growth; and,
  2. Fast proliferation with minimal water or maintenance requirement. In fact, bamboo is known to be one of the fastest growing plants on earth, making it highly renewable. It is also biodegradable. In the regions of the world where bamboo gows indigenously, one can observe bamboo stalks literally within a 24-hour period.

From an apparel point of view, bamboo has additional advantages. Bamboo is twice as absorptive as cotton and can wick moisture and odor away from one’s body at twice the rate of conventional cotton. Depending on how it is manufactured, bamboo can be effectively used in a variety of products.

Furthermore, bamboo fibers produce some of the softest, most compelling fabrics today, not unlike cashmere or silk. In fact, ‘ecoKashmere’ coined by jonano and derived from bamboo is highly akin to cashmere or silk. Bamboo literlly is the ecocashmere.

Retailers who have discovered this miracle fiber are brilliantly incorporating it into babywear and undergarments. With is natural anti-microbial characteristics, it is a perfect match for germ-prone babies and undergarment wear, especially for women. The fact that the plant requires much less water, no pesticides and less time to grow provide the icing on the cake, for this A-list fabric.
Some companies to look out for that have saavily bamboozled the fiber into their business models:

Jonano (with ecokashmere) retailer in bamboo clothing & organic clothing, jonano is one of the more stylish companies out there, combining solid 100% organic materials with contemporary, comfortable and earthy designs. Nothing too obvious or outrageous, the jonano style is simple, elegant and down to earth. No pretention—exactly how the ecobrand wants to be. (Photosource: Jonano)

Bamboosa – another cutting edge, high quality company that sources and manufactures all product entirely in the US (South Carolina). Founded and run by retailing gurus, this company definitely has some of the nicest baby clothes I have seen and an extremely well designed website (easy to navigate).

Butta is an urban clothing line that partners with Africa to produce high quality products. While they are not 100% organic, they do offer one collection- the bamboo collection- all made from bamboo fibers. Definitely worth checking this company out!

More information on bamboo (source wikipedia):
Bamboo is a group of woody perennial evergreen plants in the true grass family Poaceae, subfamily Bambusoideae, tribe Bambuseae. Some of its members are giants, forming by far the largest members of the grass family. New shoots of some of the larger species can grow over 1 meter per day. They are of high cultural significance in East Asia where they are used extensively in gardens, as a building material as well as a food source.

There are 91 genera and about 1,000 species of bamboo. They are found in diverse climates, from cold mountains to hot tropical regions. They occur across East Asia, from 50°N latitude in Sakhalin through to northern Australia, and west to India and the Himalaya.[1] They also occur in sub-Saharan Africa, and in the Americas from the southeast of the United States[2] south to Chile, there reaching their furthest south anywhere, at 47°S latitude. Major areas with no native bamboos include Europe, north Africa, western Asia, Canada, most of Australia, and Antarctica.

Photosource: Jonano.com

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