Bamboo is one of the most amazing plants on the planet. It grows ridiculously fast, is resilient to bad weather, does not need pesticides, re-generates at a rate of knots and is so strong, that during the Hiroshima atomic blast in 1945, was one of the only surviving flora close to ground zero.
Our mission at TYDL is to help save the world's coral reefs, via sports. We produce #futureproofsportswear and use 10% of our proceeds to help scientific and educational conservational efforts to help our hugely endangered reefs. For that mission to succeed, we need two things to happen.
Help clean up / repair the damage caused to our corals.
Make sportswear out of a material that doesn't make the problem worse.
Given our choice of existing materials available to manufacture into textiles, and more specifically, functional sportswear, we chose bamboo. Here's why:
Bamboo is the tallest member of the grass family. The speed that bamboo grows at is phenomenal, in some cases up to 91cm per 24 hour period, meaning you could literally watch it grow. Speed of growth is one of the reasons the plant makes such a great raw material since replenishment is so quick by comparison to alternatives. To give you an indication:
Cotton - 5 months Hemp - 4 months Flax (Linen) - 3.5 months Bamboo - 2 months
As you can see, bamboo grows 2.5x quicker than cotton, 2x quicker than hemp, and 1.75x quicker than flax (linen).
The bamboo plant requires no chemicals commonly found in agriculture to keep the plant alive. Unlike the cotton plant, which covers 2.4% of the worlds cultivated lands but uses 6% of the world's pesticides and 16% of the world's incesticides, bamboo contains a naturally occurring bio-agent called 'bamboo kun' that inhibits funghi growth and helps prevent bacteria from festering.
3. CARBON CAPTURE & OXYGEN PRODUCTION
Bamboo releases up to 35% more oxygen than the equivalent standing of trees. Since the bamboo grass grows so quickly, this means that giant bamboo groves could help our environment in a different way, by helping to reduce the amount of Co2 in our atmosphere. Rising Co2 emissions is one of the reasons coral bleaching is happening. Perhaps increased demand for this carbon-capture king of the jungle could benefit our corals long term.
While cotton, hemp and flax plants are of course all renewable, bamboo does not require re-cultivation after a harvest. Once the bamboo plant stem has been cut, the deep root system will sprout new stems very quickly and new plants will begin to grow again after the harvest. The plants own fallen leaves contain nutrients for the plant to flourish once again, so fertilizers are not necessary (however, some farmers do you fertilizer to speed up re-growth). Synthetic materials such as polyester or nylon only have one life, since they are derived from oil. Once the oil has been refined and turned into the respective material, there is no 'replenishment' as oil takes millions of years to form.
For transparency, we do use a tiny amount of spandex in some of our garments so they can stretch while you workout. Without this stretch, the life of the garment will drastically be reduced, and we felt longevity is crucial. We are desperately trying to find an alternative, so if you have any suggestions for us, please contact us so we can explore your idea(s).
We know that even the mighty bamboo plant, despite all its natural wonders, is not a perfect solution. In order to make bamboo fibre, certain chemicals are added to a solution at very high temperatures that break down the bamboo plant into small soft fibres used in clothing. Some manufacturers have been heavily criticised, because if the disposal of these chemicals is not done correctly, they can be harmful to our environment, negating the wonderful properties of using bamboo in the first place. We have conducted supply-chain audits at our suppliers, (even our box manufacturer!) obtained waste-disposal policies and ISO certificates and have checked the origins of raw materials too. While we are aware text on paper doesn't always match reality, we are confident that while we investigate even better alternatives, that bamboo is the best way forward. As mentioned, as a versatile startup, we are always open to suggestions, so if you have any comments or ideas of your own, please drop us an email or start a chat on Facebook Messenger! Michael & Will