Ecological-conscious consumers make an effort to purchase organic fruits and vegetables, reduce their use of plastic goods, and find ways to diminish their carbon footprint. Now one can do all of those activities in style, maybe.
Bamboo-U launched its Web site in April 2008, which produces ecologically friendly T-shirts. The 70 percent bamboo material and 30 percent organic cotton blend creates a shirt that is environmentally friendly and comfortable, according to the company.
Jeff Fulmer, owner of Bamboo-U, said the differences between a Bamboo-U shirt and a regular cotton T-shirt are numerous. The fabric is very soft, similar to silk. It is highly absorbent and aids in keeping the wearer cool and comfortable in the warmer months.
Fulmer said he created the clothing line with the hope of changing a generation.
“My goal was to increase awareness of environmental issues and reach people like college students,” Fulmer said. “And provide them with an alternative to conventional clothing.”
Fulmer hopes to help the natural world by appealing to a younger demographic.
“We felt like (college students) would be more open to trying new things,” he said. “And for the most part, they are more conscious of the environmental concerns we are facing.”
Gwendolyn Hustvedt, assistant professor in the department of family and consumer sciences, said she was wary of Bamboo-U, fearing the products are not as safe as the company claims.
“One of the common misconceptions of bamboo products is that there is no such thing as bamboo fiber,” Hustvedt said. “It is technically considered to be rayon, which is created through a chemical and toxic process. There are ways to make bamboo without toxins, in a way similar to creating linen. But when made that way it would have the same kind of rough feel as linen.”
Fulmer was eager to assure that the creation of the bamboo into a workable fabric was done as safely as possible.
“We get our bamboo from an American company in China,” Fulmer said. “I did a lot of research to make sure we were partnering with a company that, I felt, was trying to do the right thing. While no chemical process is benign, we feel really good about the process we are using, as well as the factory standards.”
Fulmer further explained the procedure of breaking down the bamboo.
“The process is completely closed, meaning we do not release any byproducts into the environment,” Fulmer said. “Sodium hydroxide [the chemical used to break down the bamboo] is reactive, but it is not toxic, so it has no environmental impact and is certified by the Global Organic Textile standards.”
Kinzey Patton, mass communications sophomore, is excited about fashion choices being ecologically friendly.
“I very much appreciate what Bamboo-U is doing,” Patton said. “I am glad they are using a more sustainable resource, instead of chopping down 100 acres of the rainforest.”
Patton explained her favorite characteristics of the bamboo shirts.
“I really like the fact that the fabric is anti-bacterial and allergy free, as well as being very soft,” Patton said. “The shirts are kind of expensive, but in the long run it is a good investment.”
Fulmer said there are good reasons for purchasing a bamboo shirt.
“Bamboo is more sustainable and doesn’t need pesticides or insecticides,” Fulmer said. “From a consumer standpoint, it is just really soft and comfortable, and it feels good.”