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The manufacturers and retailers of bamboo clothing and textiles are singing its praises. They say this wonderfully soft fibre is so eco-friendly, you’re saving the planet just by wearing it. Too good to be true? Probably.

Following our recent blog post on the sustainability of bamboo as a wood alternative, we are looking at bamboo fabric with the same objectivity. So what do we already know about bamboo as a fabric?

  • Bamboo fabric is super soft, strong and lightweight.
  • It has good drape characteristics and allows the skin to breath making it ideal for clothing.
  • Bamboo also imparts it’s absorbent and anti-bacterial properties into its fabric form which is great for medical uses.
  • Plus textiles made from bamboo require less energy to wash and dry than other natural fibres.

Doesn’t that all sound fabulous so far? It almost reads like an advert from a retailer of bamboo clothing…

However, as with any resource or product, we need to look at the entire process – from harvesting to retailing – to understand the impact on the environment. It’s worth noting at this point that nothing has zero impact. When you cut down a tree or harvest a cotton crop there is an energy cost and direct effect on the immediate environment (“Hey, where’s my tree gone?” said the squirrel). Among other things, sustainability considers how that cost is balanced against providing income and education for farm workers and how easy it is to replace or regrow a resource.

Eco-recap on growing bamboo

Whilst there are energy costs associated in its transportation, the production of bamboo can be super-sustainable:

  • It grows at a fast rate, absorbing C02 from the atmosphere as it matures.
  • Growing in its natural environment, bamboo does not require irrigation or pesticides.
  • Bamboo production supports small-scale farming in areas that are too inaccessible for large machinery.
  • It has a larger utilised biomass than cotton i.e. more product per plant per acre.
  • Once harvested, bamboo continues to grow so there is less destruction that leads to soil erosion.

Well, this sounds even better! Bamboo is great to grow and its great to wear. Sign me up!

But between plant and product, there is a significant area that needs exploring before bamboo can claim it’s eco-credentials.

Turning bamboo into fabric

Bamboo is not naturally soft. It’s a hard, woody plant that requires significant processing to turn into a textile. There are two methods for this: chemical and mechanical.

Chemical production of bamboo fabric

Those of you currently wearing any bamboo clothing may wish to slip into something with a higher cotton content whilst reading this.

The leaves and stalks of bamboo are effectively cooked-up in a vat of toxic chemicals including carbon disulfide, chlorine and sulfuric acid. Because it isn’t a closed loop system, the resulting cocktail, that is a risk to the environment, gets into waterways and landfills. Plus, these chemicals pose serious health hazards, including neural disorders, for the workers employed in the manufacture of bamboo fabric using this method.

Great.

This manufacturing process is neither eco-friendly nor sustainable. And it’s this method that produces the silky soft, wearable fabric that gets bamboo all that positive attention.

Mechanical production of bamboo fabric

Good news is that the mechanical method is more eco-friendly than the chemical method (but it would be difficult not to be). The bad news is that it is more expensive. The woody bamboo is crushed and left to ferment in a mushy mess using natural enzymes that break down the fibrous structures. The natural fibres are then mechanically drawn out and spun into yarn. This process is basically the same for making textiles from flax or hemp and the result is a linen-like fabric. It’s labour intensive and produces a low yield of fabric.

The reality is the vast majority of bamboo textile is not organic. Or at least any claim it has in being a truly organic fibre has limitations. Bamboo fibre can be organic – but it’s rare, expensive and unlikely to be fully traceable.

Bamboo and China

Any commodity, where it’s production is overwhelmingly dependant on China is not sustainable. China has one of the most unregulated markets in the world and hardly the best track record on workers rights. Plus a significant pollution problem. So even if bamboo is a better crop for the environment that does not automatically make it sustainable. At least not yet. China is stepping up with new environmental policies, mostly in response to the smog issues across its cities. So perhaps there is hope yet for Chinese bamboo to save us all. If only if wasn’t on the other side of the planet…

Here’s a handy infographic on bamboo

bamboo sustainable infographic

Bamboo infographic

It’s easy to be defeatist. Trying to make good, sustainable choices for our businesses and personal selves sometimes feels impossible. We, as consumers, often only have access to the information that retailers want us to know about their products. The result is we are sometimes left feeling naive, conned or like a failure when we’ve tried so hard to make the right choice.

But the positive in all this is just that – choice. Is bamboo fabric a better choice for the environment than organic cotton from a fair trade source? Maybe, maybe not. Is it better than polyester? Yes. Can bamboo production help protect deforestation in South America? Yes. Is the farming of bamboo across China likely (if not already) to be exploited if the west continues to view bamboo as a magic bullet? Probably. Is it a competition of bamboo vs cotton? No. Is it about making informed decisions? Yes.

The use of bamboo is a step in the right direction. It shows we are looking for alternatives. But bamboo, certainly for European consumers, shouldn’t be considered the final destination of that search. It’s a stepping stone in our journey towards sustainability.

 

Luxury artificial plants for that ‘wow’ factor

Sometimes plants are the finishing touch little succulents on the desk or in the bathroom. Plants so well placed that you almost don’t notice they are there but the place would look empty without them. But sometimes you want your floral arrangements to have a big. You want them to have the ‘wow factor’ when customers first walk into your premises.

Floresy specialises in luxury artificial plants for creating impressive displays. Here are some examples of plants to choose from if you want to create something special.

Luxury Artificial Plants – Trees

Trees are perhaps the most obvious choice of luxury artificial plants. They also have the most impact. Trees are an unexpected interior feature and are therefore the most impressive. A tree can bring an organic and harmonious presence to any space. They give us a connection to nature. But likewise, an interior tree can also say “decadence” and “opulence”.

olive tree

Our tall artificial olive tree is 200cm in height

wisteria tree 300 cm

This wisteria is an impressive 300cm

larch tree

Our larches are great all year round and come in different sizes

Large artificial plants such as trees are an investment but they pay for themselves in reduced maintenance costs. In addition to our catalogue range, Floresy also offers a bespoke artificial tree service

Luxury artificial plants – flower arrangements

Most flower arrangments are cut flowers which means they have very limited longevity.  With artificial flower arrangements, your display will not fade. It will stay fresh and in top condition for years to come. Another benefit of luxury artificial plants as flower arrangements is that they can be stored between seasons – or even sold and replaced! Artificial plants are assets for a business and are no different from furniture in that regard.

Floresy offers a great choice of artificial flowers in a choice of displays. Here are some examples of Floresy’s artificial flower arrangements that make great additions to restaurant tables, reception desks and restrooms. Floresy also caters for larger displays which are perfect as plant room dividers.

Easter flower arrangement click to find out more

Artificial flower arrangement for Spring ‘Grape Hyacinth Garden’

Calla lily and orchid vase display

artificial cyclamen flower arrangement

Rustic cyclamen in brown stoneware

window box small mixed arrangements

Small window box with a mixed arrangement

artificial green sansevieria in long grey container

Artificial green sansevieria in a tall grey container

freestanding green wall 180 cm

This freestanding green wall comes in different sizes and containers

Luxury artificial plants – grasses and bamboos

Our artificial grasses and bamboos continue to be some of our best sellers. It’s because they are attractive, versatile and are near-identical to the real thing. But perhaps it’s the atmosphere of peace and tranquillity that bamboo and other grass species creates that makes them so very special.

green grass three different sizes

Bundled green carex grass in different sizes

Gold Grass

Copper Champagne grass in gold pots

artificial grass arrangement in cigar pot rectangle

Artificial grass arrangement in cigar pot

artificial bamboo trees in pots

Due to their popularity, Floresy artificial bamboo trees consequently come in many different sizes

office bamboo tree with natural stalks

Need a bit of peace in your office? Why not try an artificial bamboo tree!

Whatever your artificial plants and trees need is, Floresy is here to help. Our range of luxury artificial plants and our bespoke design service means we offer solutions for every budget and room setting. Plus, our exceptional customer service means that we have the experience and knowledge to guide you through the designing and buying process. We will help you make the right choice for your business. So, please get in contact with us today to speak to one of our friendly and helpful team.

The driving force behind any construction material is how cost-effective it is. Sadly this often results in practices that exploit the environment including the people used in the production process. With growing concerns over the impact of humans on our environment, bamboo is potentially one of the success stories. But is bamboo sustainable enough?

Why is bamboo sustainable?

Bamboo is a fast-growing plant. Incredibly, some species grow up to 1.2m per day! The plants can reach a harvestable height within 3-5 years. So whilst wood is still a renewable resource, trees used in the timber industry will take between 20 and 60 years to reach suitable felling heights. Bamboo has a higher yield because it “outgrows” trees.

When you cut down a tree for its wood, you kill the tree. When you cut down bamboo, it continues to grow as the base and roots remain intact. This helps prevent soil erosion often associated with deforestation. The continual growth of bamboo also means it is continually taking carbon from the atmosphere. Plus bamboo forests spew out more oxygen than hardwood forests by 30%.

Bamboo happily grows in inaccessible areas where it wouldn’t be possible to farm timber such as slopes and smaller plots of land. It grows in abundance across Asia and is sometimes seen as a problem plant because of its fast-growing and prolific nature. Furthermore, growing bamboo in its natural habitat means its production also has a much smaller impact on the local ecosystem including no requirement for irrigation or fertiliser.

Because of its suitability for small-scale farming, bamboo also supports local economies and their small, independent farmers. Communities are safe from deforestation or exploitation by logging corporations as well. Bamboo can be cut by hand eliminating the need for energy-consuming machinery.

Bamboo also has potential as a biofuel. It is a high-carbon material and so is an obvious choice for converting into a biofuel. India is leading the way by using bamboo as a biofuel due to the plant’s abundance in its northern region. Whilst its use as a fuel is still in an experimental stage, it has the potential to contribute to greener fuels industries.

How does bamboo compare to hardwood as a material?

Bamboo is waterproof meaning it is easier to clean and has better stain-resistance than hardwood. This is a great plus when using bamboo as wooden flooring. Whilst all wood has antibacterial properties, bamboo is particularly so making it “cleaner” overall when compared to normal wood.

Hardness is an important factor when considering a construction material. For wooden flooring, the hardness of the wood effects how durable the flooring is. The hardness of wood comes from its fibre density. Hardness is measured using the Janka Hardness Test. This equates to the force required to embed a steel ball half its diameter into the wood.

Natural bamboo has a hardness of 1300-1400 which is comparable to birch (1260), beech (1300) and oak (1360). Carbonised bamboo (heat treated to darken its natural colour) has a hardness of 1000-1100 which is still hard than pine (870).

Bamboo scaffolding is the norm across China but bamboo can even be an alternative to steel for reinforcing concrete. So regardless of the question is bamboo sustainable, it’s certainly extremely versatile.

Bamboo sustainable alternative wood

Is bamboo a real alternative to wood?

What are the environmental impacts of bamboo?

Bamboo cannot be grown on a significant, sustainable scale outside of Asia so all of the bamboo products in use in the West are imported. Around 80% of bamboo is grown in China, so there is the emission cost in transporting it around the globe to Europe and the USA. However, the environmental impact of shipping bamboo across the Pacific may not appear all that bad. It is comparable with logging transportation across the Americas, including within the USA itself.

Asia has less regulation than western nations regarding the use of pesticides and other chemicals used in the farming process.

With the demand for bamboo increasing so too is the financial temptation. Local farmers may choose to destroy local habitats in order to increase bamboo growth opportunities.

When asking is bamboo sustainable, it isn’t just the growing and harvesting that requires consideration. The ease with which the material can be transformed into a usable product is important too. As bamboo is a slender plant it requires additional processing to create planks. Timber can quickly be cut into ready-to-use planks. Bamboo needs to be glued together and that requires an adhesive – which is an additional chemical. There is also an additional energy cost to consider especially if the bamboo is carbonised to create a darker shade. However, there is less wastage unlike when turning timber into planks.

Bamboo as a textile is a bad idea due to the significant chemical use in its production.

There is no official grading system for the quality of bamboo used in flooring or furniture so quality-control of a final product may also be an issue. You can look for the FSC logo on a bamboo product which will mean that it has come from a more sustainable source.

Conclusion

Whilst there will always be an impact with using natural resources, it’s important to understand the relative impact each material has so we can limit or even mitigate the environmental costs. So, is bamboo sustainable? Well, it can be and where you are on the planet is a big factor. The use of bamboo in western countries may ease the rate of destruction of the rainforest in South America. But if all it does is shift the deforestation to other places on the planet, then there is no real benefit. As with any natural resource, it needs proper management otherwise it will become no different to the hardwood forests.

Discover ideas for using bamboo plants in your interiors from our blog post artificial bamboo tree inspiration.

Artificial Bamboo Trees at Floresy are versatile, practical and decorative.

Bamboo is a mystical plant deeply rooted in Chinese culture and other countries across Asia. To the Chinese, it represents integrity and means friendship in India. Some folktales from around the world include either a baby or a beautiful woman that emerges from a bamboo stem…

Rare-blooming, bamboo is actually a grass and is one of the fastest growing plants in the world. Some species grow at rates of up to 90cm in a 24 hour period. It is lightweight, strong but flexible and very versatile. It can be used in place of wood as anything from rafts and skateboards through to fishing rods and scaffolding. Modern Western interiors see bamboo used in flooring, furniture and kitchen utensils. Bamboo suggests peace and tranquillity. It is also used to create natural textiles for clothing. And no self-respecting English garden is without Sweet Peas growing up a wigwam of bamboo canes.

So, needless to say, this plant is rather special.

artificial bamboo tree indoor

At Floresy, we offer a wide choice of artificial Bamboo Tree products. Bamboo is consistently one of our most popular selling plants. Just as the natural form lends itself to many uses, our artificial bamboo products are just as versatile. Bamboo works well both indoors and outdoors. One of it’s most versatile qualities from a design point of view is that it is both decorative and architectural. Here are some design ideas to give inspiration of how to use bamboo in your domestic or commercial setting.

Artificial bamboo as a space divider

You can use artificial bamboo to divide specific areas. Subdividing large spaces creates smaller, more usable “rooms” without losing the scale of the space.  For an example, rows of bamboo will create smaller, more discrete spaces. This quickly and cost-effectively solves the demand for more meeting rooms that many open-plan offices can’t deliver. For a large outdoor space – for example, a swimming pool terrace – you can use potted bamboos to separate the pool from the terrace giving bathers greater privacy. Using bamboo like this creates a sense of order and privacy in an otherwise open space. It retains the sense of space and doesn’t adversely affect light conditions. Plus it is exotic yet calming.

artificial bamboo wall screen

Artifical bamboo as a screen

Try using a bamboo screen to disguise or hide something. You can use a line of plants to hide an unsightly or unattractive wall, for example. Likewise, you can use bamboo’s natural beauty to bring interest to an otherwise boring and plain area. Because bamboo is tall, it is useful for screening larger areas. During a refurbishment, artificial bamboo offers a flexible and attractive choice to temporarily screen the work.  Plus, being artificial you can store them when not in use.

Artificial bamboo as a decorative feature

Simple decorations of bamboo are perfect for interiors with a minimalist style. By placing bamboo poles in a modern vase act you can create a frugal and honest display. Or, place the bamboo close to a wall to add some colour and interest. The leaves of bamboo add texture whilst the tall stems bring instant height. You can easily create a gentle atmosphere of harmony with a well-chosen bamboo.

artificial bamboo office reception

 

Our artificial bamboos are perfect for anyone who wants to add more greenery to a room. They are great for areas which are too dark for real plants. Being artificial means they are more flexible in how you choose to use them. Plus, they are portable so can adapt to changes in a rooms purpose, layout or design. And, very unlike a real plant, pop them in the cupboard when not in use. Our artificial bamboo is the best faux bamboo you can find. Available to buy in sizes ranging from 60cm to 300cm in height, Floresy has artificial bamboos to suit every location.

If you would like advice about designing your space with artificial plants or faux tall trees, please contact us here.