Is there no end to the usefulness of bamboo? They can now make bamboo socks that stop your feet smelling! The makers claim that they are softer and more durable than cotton and contain a natural odour-eating magic ingredient called “Bamboo-kin” – an anti-microbial agent that kills the organisms that create smelly feet. The cellulose product that results from boiling or steaming of mature bamboo poles can be used to make a biodegradable fabric – bamboo rayon – which has been used in China for a while, but only emerged in Western markets more recently (for examples of other bamboo clothing on the market see ‘Bamboosa’, ‘Shirts of Bamboo’ and ‘Bamboo Clothes’. Bamboo is one of the world’s most sustainable crops, and what’s more it absorbs up to 5 times more CO2 than an equivalent plantation of trees. The first eco-friendly socks to go on general sale in the UK will soon be available through supermarket chain Asda. So, are these set to be “one of the biggest fashion trends over the next decade”, as claimed by Ed Watson, spokesman for Asda’s clothing range George? Will the demand for bamboo products help save the world from global warming by fixing more CO2?
In Ghana, the Bamboo and Rattan Development Program has introduced bamboo into the manufacture of bicycles for the rural communities. The program is aimed at raising awareness of the use of bamboo and rattan resources as an alternative to timber as well as their benefits in poverty alleviation and socio-economic development of rural communities. Dr David Ho from the USA says “The goal of this project is to help the sustainability of transportation in the Northern regions. This is because the main means of transportation for the people of the northern regions is the bike.” The “Cargo Bike” is made to carry 100 kg of load for use by farmers for sustainable transportation.
Meanwhile, in Bhutan, 10,000 bamboo seedlings were distributed last month by the Forestry Development Corporation Limited (FDCL) to government agencies and interested private individuals in Samtse and Chukha districts where 866 acres of degraded land were identified for plantation. Bamboo helps to conserve soil and water in catchment areas by minimising the downstream flow of silt and it is seen as a possible alternative to wood to reduce the pressure on forests. Bamboo products such as flag posts supplied by FDCL have been successful as a substitute to wood and now bamboo is used by architects and designers for construction of summer houses as well as for furniture.
In India, the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University has come up with a new technology for mass multiplication of bamboo on a commercial scale without the need for costly and advanced infrastructure. Also in India, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has given its approval for continuation of the National Mission on Bamboo Applications until November 2009. Since it began in 2004, the Mission has developed and commercialised technologies and applications in wood substitutes, bamboo based gasification, bamboo based charcoal making, edible bamboo shoot processing, bamboo fibre based hygiene products and bamboo fibre reinforced thermoplastics. Over 8000 bamboo composite based pre-fabricated structures have been installed for schools, hospitals, sanitation and housing in the areas where construction is difficult and which are earthquake prone and Tsunami affected.
- Ian Fletcher, Bamboo socks will give the boot to smelly feet. Scotsman.com, 30 June 2007.
- MyJoyOnline, Bamboo bicycles in Ghana. 26 June 2007.
- Passang Norbu, Grow bamboos, save trees. Kuensel Online, 28 June 2007.
- The Hindu News Update Service, New technology for mass multiplication of bamboo. 25 June 2007.
- Y.S.R. Murthy, Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA): Continuation of the National Mission on Bamboo Applications. Press Information Bureau, Government of India, 5 July 2007.