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Oregon Bamboo Association



We are an independent chapter of the American Bamboo Society. We serve as an educational and reference source to the public about bamboo, its many uses and relationships to society, and are a non-profit organization. Our programs are open to the public and are free. We also hold joint meetings with the Pacific Northwest Chapter of the ABS, and share information with many of the other National Chapters.

If you have an interest in Bamboo, its ornamental cultivation, its growing and propagation, its use in crafts, art, construction, food, management, ecology. We sponsor lectures, conferences, tours, plant auctions, and hold at least four meetings and try to produce at least four newsletters per year. Our next even will be a visit to a manufacturing facility where they make bamboo sheets.  We'll include details on dates and times and costs (really just for gas and food) on the events page soon. We'll also send out all of the info via e-mail to everyone who is on the list. Hopefully everyone will be able to make it to the event!

We also thought we'd say a little more about the process of turning bamboo into fabric ahead of the event to a facility that actually manufactures this "bamboo fabric". The OBA has historically been more interested in the uses of bamboo as a construction material, and in the plant itself. However, recently bamboo has been appearing everywhere: not just in flooring, construction, and yards, but in fabrics that are made into clothing and bamboo bedding products as well. Particularly popular are bamboo pillow and sheets. These bamboo bedding products are super soft, and very popular. Unfortunately there are many issues with the manufacturing process that leave a lot to be desired. First, they are not really "bamboo" at all: they are rayon (or viscose) derived from bamboo. This means they are put through an intense chemical process to produce the bamboo fabric that is eventually turned into what the company then calls "bamboo sheets" or "bamboo pillow" or "bamboo towels". Really though, it is just Rayon, and all of the properties of bamboo they tout are lost in the chemical process to produce the Rayon. The Federal Trade Commission even ruled against all the companies claiming these products were "100% bamboo" and decided they had to use the words Rayon or Viscose somewhere in the name of the product. The intensely chemical process used to create the fabric is really not good for the environment, and the antimicrobial properties of bamboo do not survive that process anyway.

That said, growing bamboo is still more environmentally friendly than growing cottong, so making bamboo bedding and clothing products might have a slight advantage of traditional materials for bed sheets and clothes. One shouldn't think that it's a "green" product though since the chemicals used to make the Rayon or Viscose are extremely harmful to the environment.

There is an alternative! It is possible to produce fabric for bamboo bedding and bamboo clothing products without the heavily chemical process that is used to produce Rayon from Bamboo or Viscose from Bamboo. The resulting fabric is known as "Bamboo Linen". This is truly a green alternative to either cotton sheets or rayon from bamboo sheets and bedding. You can read more about it at the National Resources Defense Council which gives a nice account of all of the various processes by which bamboo is turned into sheets and mattresses, and also of the greener alternatives to the commonly used viscose process.

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