By Alicia Wilke
Bamboo diapers: ARE they better for your baby? For your planet?!
Let's find out!
First, let's ask: what is so special about bamboo?
Bamboo is a member of the grass family. It can grow to full size in three to four months. Can you imagine having a baby, and then 3-4 months later they are living in your basement as a full-grown adult?! Wowza! Bamboo grows SO fast that, if you were so inclined, you can watch it grow taller and taller in an hour. This makes bamboo super sustainable- it's crazy regenerative!
Nasty pesticides and chemicals are not needed for bamboo to thrive. Bamboo grows in a clumping formation, so there is less space needed between the plants for their ability to thrive and grow. Bamboo thrives in almost any climate and requires very little water due to its ability to absorb and store for long periods.
The entire plant is useful for creating all kinds of products we use every day. Bamboo's versatility and strength make it ideal for eco-friendly construction of houses and flooring, all the way down to cutlery and toothbrushes. It is so strong and long-lasting these products can be used time and time again without worry of deterioration.
Another reason why there is no need for use of pesticides or chemicals- bamboo resists pests and bacteria growth all on its own. The genetic makeup of bamboo contains a substance scientists have named "bamboo Kun", resisting microbes and staph bacteria alike. Because of this, bamboo is also odor-resistant. Cotton fibers absorb odor-causing bacteria (sweat), helping growth. Bamboo resists this altogether, its chemical make-up does not allow for bacteria to get trapped and stay.
This is the best reason of all! Unlike trees, bamboo grows in clumps and does not need a giant space to grow. Unlike trees, bamboo does not need to be replanted after it is cut. Unlike trees, bamboo grows crazy fast and doesn't take 30 years to reach full maturity. Bamboo releases 35% more oxygen into the air than trees and absorbs more carbon dioxide to boot. This is a HUGE win for our atmosphere. Its roots help the soil become healthier and they help prevent soil erosion by reducing rain run-off. Better yet: the more bamboo products are purchased, the more in-demand the plant is, the more it will be planted, providing our Earth with all the aforementioned benefits.
Okay, so now we know some background bamboo info, and it's pretty clear that this plant gets a huge A+ from Mother Nature.
Next question: HOW is this bamboo processed into a diaper?
There are two ways that bamboo turns into fiber- chemically or mechanically.
Chemically processed bamboo fiber is treated with lye, carbon disulfide, and other various additives to break it down for future reshaping into fibers. This process results in a fiber that has a chemical makeup no different from a man-made synthetic cloth. Bamboo processed in this way is a rayon material.
Mechanically processed bamboo fiber is made by steaming the bamboo stalks to remove the soft pithy insides and then cooked until soft and pliable. It is then washed with water and cooked again, resulting in a pliable, soft and thick fiber. These are then taken out to dry and the final fibers used for many things- like diapers!
So let's get back to our original questions: ARE bamboo diapers better for your baby?! For the planet?!
Like the bamboo plant, these diapers absorb and hold a ton of liquid- 70% more than a cotton diaper! Wow! Due to its absorbent properties, this is a great characteristic for a diaper. Wicking away moisture and wetness from your baby's skin and into the fiber keeps baby dry and rash free.
Again, like the plant- bamboo diapers resist bacteria. Another win in the diaper rash department. It's safe to say that all babies are born with sensitive skin (I mean they have only just arrived here in the world! Everything that touches their skin is brand new!) so bamboo diapers are a safe choice for baby bottoms.
Bamboo is kinda like the ultimate superstar of the plant world. I mean what can't it do?! I don't know? Is it perfect? No, nothing is. But the benefits of using bamboo to make diapers far out weights it disadvantages.