Bamboo T-Shirts from Chile, by Rodrigo Alonso


Our previously featured Chilean designer Rodrigo Alonso continues his work with sustainable design. After coming up with his project N+EW (No More Electronic Waste) and recycling old computer and electronic parts into a bench and a lamp, he has designed a line of T-shirts made with bamboo fabric.

Even though bamboo clothing and products are extremely extended in the United States, they were barely present in Latin America. We know its properties for clothing have become so popular that people have called it The New Cotton; but it has also been questioned about its fabric and flooring properties (check out our articles Is bamboo clothing truly green?, and Bamboo Flooring- Is It Really Treehugger Green?). However, it continues to be a greener alternative to cotton so we were happy to see it appearing in Chile.

Find out more about the pros and cons of bamboo and more info on the T-shirts in the extended.Some of its benefits are that bamboo is 100% naturally grown (without the need for pesticides or fertilizers), and that in fabric, it is thought to have antibacterial properties. However, as mentioned, it has been said that, "The manufacturing of bamboo into fabric requires strong chemical solvents used to cook the bamboo plant into a viscose solution, that is then reconstructed into cellulose fiber for weaving into yarn for fabric." (fragment of Is bamboo clothing truly green?).

Even so, explains the process in a different way: "Bamboo clothing is usually made a mix of bamboo fibers and other material, such as 55% bamboo and 45% polyester. Before weaving them into clothes, the bamboo fibers have been chemically processed into a form of rayon. Rayon is made from cellulose, which is wood pulp. So after all, bamboo fiber is rayon made from bamboo. You still need the chemicals in its production, but at least it reduces the need for wood pulp, and that's always a good thing, as bamboo reproduces much faster than trees."

It is also important to remember how many pesticides are used in cotton production, which have a direct impact on the environment and health. "Conventional cotton is one of the most chemically-dependent crops, sucking up 10% of all agricultural chemicals and 25% of insecticides on 3% of our arable land; that's more than any other crop per unit. That adds up to 1/3 of a pound of chemicals to produce enough cotton for a T-shirt, and 3/4 of a pound for a pair of jeans. That's just not bad for the planet; 20,000 deaths occur each year from pesticide poisoning in developing countries," says our post Green basics: Organic Cotton.

Having said that, if you need T-shirts in Chile and want to go bamboo, now you can! Rodrigo Alonso's tees are 17,400 Chilean peso (which is around 35 US dollars) the ones with short sleeves; and the long sleeved ones 19,700 (about 40 US dollars). They can be bought at design stores in Chile, including Lippi y Diaz (1586 Italia Av.), Esell (1549 Padre Hurtado Av.), and Sport One (13451 Las Condes Av., store 211, Mall Sport).

Also, check our many posts on bamboo here. ::Rodrigo Alonso


Close up on Rodrigo Alonso's bamboo T-shirts line.

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