Jet Point’s Bamboo Mission
Here at Jet Point we decided to create a website devoted to all of the awesome uses for bamboo. The first application we are espousing is bamboo bedding. Our full guide to all sorts of bamboo bedding (mattress, sheets, pillow, duvet covers, etc) can be found on this page. Here we want to give you an overview of all of the environmental, health, and comfort benefits of using bamboo products more generally.
Like all wood-based products, items made from bamboo are based on a renewable resource since after harvesting a tree or plant, another one can be planted and harvested in a relatively short amount of time. This is in contrast to a plastic product which is petroleum based and the oil from which it is derived will take millions of years for our planet to replace. Bamboo is better than almost any other wood-based product since after harvesting, a bamboo plant can regrow and be harvested again in as short as a year or two. For a typical hardwood tree such as oak, this time to re-harvesting can take forty years or longer.
Because of this fast growth rate, bamboo also absorbs carbon dioxide from the environment at an amazing rate. Most estimates suggest that a bamboo plant absorbs about 35% more carbon dioxide per year than an equivalently sized hardwood tree.
In addition to the environmental benefits that we obtain from bamboo’s amazing carbon dioxide absorbing properties, this plant grows so amazingly well and is so robust that no chemicals or pesticides are needed in the growth and cultivation process. Of course, this benefits the local environment where bamboo is grown without damaging the local ecosystem. Other fabrics can make no such claims. For instance, growing cotton requires vast quantities of pesticides to keep the plants healthy.
At left you see an image of a cotton field. Pesticides are used so heavily in its production that it is not even safe for humans to enter the area where cotton is being grown. I don’t know about you, but in addition to the environmental damage, I really don’t want to be wearing clothes or sleeping in bedding made from a fabric that is laced with pesticides. I’m sure a cleaning process occurs, but even trace remnants of pesticides must remain, and then you’re exposed to them 24 hours a day. I can just image how many toxins I would breath in sleeping in cotton bedding every night for years. I’d rather have bedding made from toxin free bamboo products.
The fact that bamboo production doesn’t require pesticides to grow or chemicals in its processing into fabric or other products gives an immediate health benefit. Other products that use these chemicals and toxins claim that current research suggests they pose no adverse affect on human health. Since new research is being done all the time, that could change with the next study! Why take the risk when there is an alternative? I mean, it is possible that all of the chemicals and toxins they use in the production of other materials actually will not cause any long term health problems in people who use those products, but it is also entirely possible that they will. With bamboo, since there are no chemicals involved at all, you don’t even have to take the risk. I would hate to trust in that research only to have a new study come out ten years from now saying “wait, remember those harmless toxins, they actually cause cancer.” I feel like if they were actually harmless, they wouldn’t be called “toxins.”
When making products from hardwood trees, a huge portion of the tree goes to waste. Hardwood furniture can really only use the large sections from the tree, while the rest is wasted. Hardwood trees also can only make a limited number of products. There’s a reason you don’t see “oak clothing” available at any stores. In contrast, virtually every shred of bamboo is usable, and almost any product you can imagine can be made from bamboo. It can replace hardwood, it can replace petroleum-based plastics, it can be used to make paper, disposable plates and utensils, towels, mattresses, sheets, pillows, anything you can imagine. Also, it’s not just that it can be used for such purposes, but in most cases it is actually superior to the materials that it is replacing. Have you ever slept in a bed with bamboo sheets? It’s like sleeping wrapped in cashmere.
Some great resources for more information on “why bamboo?” can be found on CaliBamboo, Lewis Bamboo, and BambooCentral.org. Of course, for the more scientifically minded, you could also try the rather comprehensive Wikipedia article on bamboo.
I’m certainly a support of using bamboo as much as possible for environmental reasons, but with bedding, if it isn’t comfortable then there’s no way it’s going to get used by most people. Fortunately bamboo sheets and bamboo pillow are amazingly comfortable. People have said that bamboo is to cotton as cashmere is to wool. As a user of bamboo sheets and pillows myself, I can confirm that this is absolutely true. At left you see a picture of the Malouf bamboo sheets, which are not the ones I use but people say are great. They also had the coolest picture. Anyway, I highly recommend going to a store and feeling these for yourself. Once you start sleeping with bamboo sheets there is no way that you will go back to cotton (egyptian or otherwise). You should also get over the whole “thread count” scam. Comparing thread count between different fabrics is meaningless (even if it is really meaningful at all). The thread counts for bamboo sheets are lower than for equivalent cotton sheets because of the size of bamboo fibers. With bamboo, in fact, too high a thread count would lead to stiffer sheets, and the whole points of bamboo sheets is the softness.
In addition to bamboo sheets, bamboo pillows are a fantastic addition to your bedding options. Of course, there have been a ton of commercials for “as seen on tv” bamboo pillows recently. A lot of those are sort of crap though. If you are getting a bamboo pillow for $24.95 then you are probably getting some sort of synthetic derived bamboo cover around really foul chemical memory foam. Good bamboo pillows will have a 100% bamboo cover and shredded memory foam, and usually are going to be at least $50 (but well worth it). I think the Coop Home Goods brand is probably the best, though people have said that snugglepedic pillows are really good also. I personally went with the Coop Home Goods body bamboo pillow and have not been disappointed at all. You can find all sorts of options for sizes and brands on Bed, Bath & Beyond. Or you could just bike to a store near you and pick them up yourself instead of paying for shipping and having people drive all over town to bring things to you that you could just as easily walk/bike to get and not burn all those fossil fuels! (Of course, I say this on a day that it is 85 and sunny outside where I am.)
I had so much to say about bamboo mattresses that I created a whole Bamboo Mattress page.
Much like sheets, the fact that bamboo is so soft and comfortable means that it makes great towels. I may dedicate a whole page to it at some point. You can see lots of towels are available at Cuddle Down. The other big advantage that bamboo towels have over cotton towels is that bamboo fabric is much more absorbent then cotton fabric. The Green Living Center confirms this with their research. You should do yourself a favor and switch over to bamboo towels as soon as possible.
Bamboo sunglasses? But how can you make bamboo transparent. Well, okay, you can’t. The lenses still have to be glass or plastic, but the frames can be entirely bamboo. There are also some bamboo sunglasses where the frames are a combination of plastic and bamboo (usually the material surrounding the lenses themselves is made of plastic and the arms are bamboo). In addition to the usual benefits of bamboo, bamboo sunglasses are awesome out on the water since they float! No more losing an expensive pair of sunglasses to the bottom of the ocean. While there are a few options for bamboo sunglasses that are quite pricey (wearpanda comes to mind), most bamboo sunglass options are quite economical. Treehut.co and treetribe.com are two other well-respected brands.
Longboards & Bicycles
Yup, bamboo bicycles and longboards are a thing. I think we can settle for image porn:
The first image is from Wikipedia which has an entry on bamboo bicycles. In typical wikipedia fashion, it goes on ad nauseam. But hey, if you want to read 6000 words on bamboo bikes, then you should totally check it out. The second image is from Calfee Design who has some other great images of bike designs on their website. You should definitely check that out if you want to get an idea of how much awesomeness someone can fit into a bamboo-bike-sized package. I think you can also buy bamboo bicycle kits on Amazon to build a bike yourself, but I haven’t tried them out. The reviews are not great, and I don’t know that the quality is very good. I wouldn’t want to pay $200+ for a bike I have to assemble myself, even if it is from bamboo. Hopefully someone will come along with a mass produced bamboo bike that normal humans can buy.
The Bamboo: Marvelous Aspects of a Familiar Plant
The bamboo is really a giant grass. It has a hollow stem with solid joints placed at intervals. It has fibrous roots and an underground stem. The leaves are parallel veined. The flowers are very rare because the bamboo is so old, having originated in the Cretaceous Age. The plant flowers once in from 15 to 60 years. Then all the culms or canes of one particular plant flower within a period of one to two years when the culms turn yellow, the leaves drop off and sometimes the roots die. After this seedlings come up.
One of the marvelous things about the bamboo is the extensive area over which one plant extends, sometimes covering many square miles of territory. Some types grow with the culms very close together. These are the clump-types. With other species the culms are separate and given the appearance of a forest of separate trees, while, as a matter of fact, if one were to dig beneath the ground, one would find that the rhizomes, or underground stems, connected with one another. The fact that one entire grove flowers and produces seeds at the same time also proves that it is a physiological unit.
There is a saying in China that the bamboo flowers when there is a famine and saves the people from starvation. It has been recorded of a bamboo forest in India that at the time of its flowering over 50,000 people came to it and camped for days and gathered the seed to take home. This seed lasted them through the winter and they were able, besides, to sell some in the market. The seed resembles rice. Bamboo shoots are also very good for food and have been tested and found to contain Vitamin B.
In Amoy there is an industry for tinning bamboo shoots. Last year 80,000 catties of bamboo shoots were shipped from Foochow to Amoy at $2.50 Mex. per 100 catties.
One of the most wonderful things about the bamboo, as everyone knows, is the rapidity of its growth, a fact which increases the usefulness of the plant many times.