Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Reviewing the Literature

Renewable Resource
As a plant, bamboo is considered to be easily renewable as it grows very fast. Nick Bajzek says ‘Bamboo is a type of grass that reaches maturity in about three to five years, whereas oak trees can take 120 years to grow to full maturity. The bamboo plant also regenerates and, when left to its own devices’ (Bajzek, 2009) showing the comparison of rate of growth. The record growth of bamboo is approximately one metre in one day alone. The fact that bamboo regenerates means that re-planting is not necessary. Continual re-harvesting does not cause environmental problems and id said to be beneficial to the plant itself. Another source suggests that bamboo reaches its full height at ‘5 – 8 weeks’. (Adamson, 1978, p.3) ‘Bamboo reinforces sustainable compounds’ provides yet more praise for bamboo’s sustainability saying it’s a ‘very fast growing, high volume crop and the production process to finished fibre has a very low energy requirement.’(Plastics, Additives and Compounding, 2008) One company that grows bamboo as a sustainable material is Hebei Jigao Chemical Fibre Company.  They have their own bamboo plantation and all the bamboo produced there is grown 100% naturally. This means that there are not pesticides used. The cutting down of trees to use as a resource causes damage to the environment as there will be much more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. However, this is a problem that does not occur with bamboo as ‘CO2 generated is balanced by the CO2 take-up by new bamboo growth, making it virtually carbon neutral’ (Plastics, Additives and Compounding, 2008). This overall makes bamboo which is actually a grass, much more renewable and environmentally friendly compared to other natural resources. There is not the case of deforestation adding to global warming and it doesn’t cause the destruction of habitats. At first I was concerned about it lowering the amount of food for the Pandas but because the bamboo used for these purposes is all grown in a specialist plantation my mind has been put to ease.
The Properties of Bamboo
Whilst researching I was amazed by the varied properties of bamboo. I think bamboo would make a very good sustainable material for medical textiles as it has ‘special properties such as antibacterial, absorbency, anti-UV, antistatic’ (Mishra, 2011) and has a ‘cool and soft feel.’ (Mishra, 2011) This would make it a very suitable material for dressings and gauze bandages as it would protect the wound from any invading microorganisms. This is a common problem in hospitals. Sometimes it is hard to notice and to prevent bacteria getting onto bandages and dressings while transporting them from where they are kept to the patient so I feel that bamboo’s properties are especially well suited to combatting this problem. Research shows that ‘100% bamboo fabrics are giving better results compared to 100% cotton and 100% viscose fabric in terms of antibacterial behaviour and absorbency’ (Mishra, 2011) which is all the better for sustainability as bamboo grows much faster than cotton and is easier to harvest as well as being more ‘pure’ than cotton which relies on the use of a lot of pesticides. While the pesticides used are said to not be harmful to humans there may still be some minor effects or cause allergies which is something that doesn’t apply to bamboo. Bamboo is also more breathable as a fabric which will aid a faster wound recovery. Bamboo also conditions temperature which also makes it good for interiors. Aruna Jyothi saysbamboo decors absorb heat and release cool air during the day, while releasing warm air and absorbing cold air at night’ (Diana, 2013). This gives bamboo and ecologically friendly factor as its temperature conditioning properties will help save on electrical bills from using central heating and air conditioning. Another property of bamboo is that it is naturally water repellent. This makes it very suitable for floorings.
Bamboo in Jewellery – Attitudes Towards Bamboo
Another interesting use for bamboo is for jewellery. The world of jewellery has started talking about ethics in regards to mining gems and minerals and some jewellers have even considered a greener side to their work. There are existing artists who have made use of organic materials in their work. Notable examples include Gustav Reye and Fred Tate. The idea of sustainability is more applicable to organic materials and even though they have been used (Reye used wood and Tate produced jewellery from bamboo and metal) there is still a stigma of sorts against using these kinds of materials for something ornamental with the exception of certain Asian cultures and a variety of indigenous communities. I think because it’s a type of grass and has been used for construction for centuries it doesn’t seem ‘precious’ enough to be used for jewellery. Bamboo is seen to be a ‘fast-growing plant for which the attributes beauty and utility match perfectly; the graceful canes…’ (Liu, 2012) Even though bamboo is considered to be beautiful and graceful, I question it’s acceptance amongst jewellers who may overlook its natural beauty with a higher focus of something ‘classically’ beautiful and luxurious. Even within Asian cultures, there is a ‘long history of usage and study, but there is very little in terms of their use for ornaments’ (Liu, 2012). I am saddened that even the culture bamboo comes from doesn’t appreciate its ornamental properties.

After reading a variety of journals, articles and e-books I have found that bamboo is a remarkable natural resource with a multitude of properties and possibilities. All the applicable pieces of literature agree that it is a renewable and fast growing plant that is completely natural and environmentally friendly. ‘Bamboo reinforces sustainable compounds says bamboo is ‘very fast growing, high volume crop and the production process to finished fibre has a very low energy requirement.’ (Plastics, Additives and Compounding, 2008) ‘BAMBOO JEWELRY: A SUSTAIBALE RESOURCE’ agrees, saying bamboo is a ‘fast-growing plant…’ (Liu, 2012)They also mutually agree on the properties of bamboo suggesting it’s a consistent resource. However, ‘BAMBOO JEWELRY: A SUSTAINABLE RESOURCE’ saddens me with how there is a stigma around using bamboo in jewellery and for ornamental reasons.

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I actually really enjoyed reading all the journals and books and writing the literature review. I feel like I've learnt a lot and have started to appreciate bamboo as much more than just food.

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