In the day and age of sustainability, bamboo has emerged as the unsung hero. Belonging to a subfamily of grass, it is known as one of the most versatile plants — and for good reason. All its parts can be utilised for a range of purposes, including culinary preparations, fashion and home decor. The products are not just organic, but also help support local communities. Ahead of World Bamboo Day (September 18), we speak to experts from different domains to shed light on the advantages of this multifunctional plant.
The future of fashion involves sustainable manufacturing. Anand Singh, manager of a menswear brand, Damensch, which makes clothes with bamboo fabric, explains the process: “The cellulose produced from bamboo leaves and the inside of its trunk is dissolved. Then, apparels are crafted from a fibre called bamboo rayon. This fibre is spun into threads to weave together the final product.”
Although bamboo has similar properties as cotton, it is softer and doesn’t consume much water while developing from yarn to fabric. The bamboo rayon fabric has antimicrobial properties that fight bacteria and reduce odour. Designer Gautam Gupta, who uses bamboo in his creations, says, “We use it in two ways, one in the yarn form and the other as a fabric. The yarn can be blended with other yarns such as banana, aloe vera or mulberry silk, or used in an absolute form to create fabrics.” Bamboo fabric developed in mills can cost ₹350-500 per metre. When the yarn is handwoven with silk, it can cost ₹1,000 or above per metre.
Food and health
Bamboo is gaining immense popularity in the food industry too, not just in terms of dishes but also in techniques. Chef Nishant Choubey says, “In bamboo biryani, for instance, the rice and aromatic spices are cooked inside the bamboo trunk and served. Apart from that, bamboo charcoal is gaining traction too.” Parts of the plant can be braised with fish or red meat, or stir-fried with soy and sake. Once plucked, bamboo can be cured and stored for long periods of time in a sterilised jar. Its shoots are edible and can be consumed with broccoli and chicken, or in dumplings.
Apart from the distinct flavour, bamboo also imparts several health benefits. Deepti Khatuja, clinical nutritionist at Fortis Memorial Research Institute, Gurugram, says, “Bamboo plant is considered one of the healthiest foods because it is rich in protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, fibre and minerals. The phytosterols in bamboo reduces fat and cholesterol levels. The leaf extract has antioxidants and is antimicrobial and anti-aging.”
Beauty and jewellery
Bamboo extract is a popular ingredient in South Korean beauty products. And with the K-beauty fever catching on, its popularity is only growing among beauty enthusiasts. Dermatologist Dr Kiran Lohia says, “Bamboo extract has been shown to boost collagen and reduce inflammation. It is antimicrobial and the products made from it are used in oral supplements. Owing to the high silica content, it is also used to strengthen hair, nails and skin.”
Bamboo is used to make ornaments and jewellery, too. Hema Sarda, founder, Bambouandbunch — an Indian brand selling jewellery made from bamboo — says, “Bamboo jewellery is eco-friendly. If dried, one can use the whole bamboo to create ornaments.” The price ranges from ₹500- ₹7,000.
Bamboo is extensively utilised to make furniture and other home decor items, thanks to the durability and artisanal touch it provides. The home decor brand Silpakarman sells a wide range of bamboo products such as furniture and kitchen utilities. Co-founders Akshya Shree and Dhwani Shree share, “For our home decor segment, we use bamboo roots to carve out idols such as Ganesha, Shiva and Buddha. Solid bamboo is taken, split into thin sticks for weaving, and then used for curtains, dining mats, gift boxes and more. For furniture, again, solid bamboo is used and carved or smoked to make the desired design.” Kitchen items, such as mugs start from ₹400. Other home utilities can cost ₹1,200 onwards and furniture starts from ₹4,500.