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Ethical Fashion

Rapanui is an Eco-Fashion company from the Isle of Wight, that makes Organic, Ethical clothing using Renewable Energy with award-winning traceability. Rapanui is about making eco-fashion cool.

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Journal 2

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Chemistry of Bamboo Clothing

We source our bamboo fabrics from a factory that has qualified for the Oeko-Tex 100 Standard (Confidence in Textiles) Certification, along with an ISO14001 certificate, which means they have an internationally recognised environmental policy.

Plant cellulose

The Oeko-Tex 100 Standard and ISO14001 certifications are the best way to ensure that this stage of the supply chain is comprehensively and responsibly cared for – there are no harmful chemicals in the finished product and no harmful chemicals went into the making of the product.

The facility that makes our bamboo clothing is a member of Fair Wear Foundation, and subscribes to their Code of Labour Practice. This ensures that all people involved at the manufacturing stage have clean, safe and well-paid working conditions.

Chemistry of a typical Bamboo Clothing Chemical Process

Most bamboo fabric around is made by soaking bamboo leaves and woody shoots in Sodium Hydroxide (NaOH - also known as caustic soda or lye) and carbon disulfide in a process also known as hydrolysis alkalization.While specifics can vary, the general process for chemically manufacturing goes like this:
1.    Bamboo leaves and the soft, inner pith from the hard bamboo trunk are extracted and crushed;
2.    The crushed bamboo cellulose is soaked in a solution of 15% to 20% sodium hydroxide at a temperature between 20 degrees C to 25 degrees C for one to three hours to form alkali cellulose;
3.    The bamboo alkali cellulose is then pressed to remove any excess sodium hydroxide solution. The alkali cellulose is crushed by a grinder and left to dry for 24 hours;
4.    Roughly a third as much carbon disulfide is added to the bamboo alkali cellulose to sulfurize the compound causing it to Gel;
5.    Any remaining carbon disulfide is removed by evaporation due to decompression and cellulose sodium xanthogenate is the result;
6.    A diluted solution of sodium hydroxide is added to the cellulose sodium xanthogenate dissolving it to create a viscose solution consisting of about 5% sodium hydroxide and 7% to 15% bamboo fibre cellulose.
7.    The viscose bamboo cellulose is forced through spinneret nozzles into a large container of a diluted sulfuric acid solution which hardens the viscose bamboo cellulose sodium xanthogenate and reconverts it to cellulose bamboo fibre threads which are spun into bamboo fibre yarns to be woven into reconstructed and regenerated bamboo fabric.

Our conclusions

We are satisfied that all that can be done for the environment, and health and safety, is being done at where our bamboo clothing is made – but our advice is this: Buy your Bamboo carefully.

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