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Eco-friendly fashion trends rub of the green
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Pandas have been munching on the evergreen plant for centuries, but bamboo is now making its way into the fashion world.

Bamboo and organic cotton are exploding among this fall's fashion lines, with companies such as 7 For All Mankind and C & C California jumping on the green bandwagon.

According to Jeff Fulmer of Bamboo U, a new company that creates trendy bamboo shirts for college-aged women, organic cotton emerged as the front-runner of Earth-friendly fashion.

Regular cotton uses heavy amounts of pesticides and chemical fertilizers that leak into streams, rivers and oceans. The nitrogen-heavy chemicals in pesticides and fertilizers can cause dead zones in oceans that remove oxygen and kill aquatic life, Fulmer says.

"One-third a pound of chemical fertilizer goes into the making of one conventional cotton T-shirt. Cotton is often considered one of the dirtiest crops to farm," Fulmer says.

While organic cotton started the eco-friendly clothing trend, bamboo is becoming a rising star in the fashion world. Bamboo is 100-percent biodegradable and, like organic cotton, is grown without the use of harmful chemical fertilizers and pesticides, Fulmer says.

"There are two major benefits to wearing bamboo. The first is environmental. Bamboo produces faster than cotton and does not have to be replanted every season," Fulmer says.

Bamboo is reported to grow one foot each day in some places and is "super hardy" in that it's environmentally sustainable. The plant contains an anti-microbial agent that keeps bacteria from growing in or on the plant. This agent also helps to eliminate odor when worn as clothing, Fulmer says.

The second reason Fulmer gives is comfort. Bamboo fabric is more comfortable and much softer than regular cotton; Fulmer equates the feeling of the material to the feeling of silk.

Bamboo U's T-shirts are made of 70 percent bamboo and 30 percent organic cotton. The company uses water-based inks to make shirts as environmentally friendly as possible. The shirts are priced around $30.

As president of Pennsylvania State Eco-Action Club, Ben Tutolo promotes using organic clothing.

By getting its cotton from North Carolina, Eco-Action reduces the amount of gas needed for shipping, Tutolo says. Tutolo adds Eco-Action thinks bamboo is a great idea, but that it's still too expensive to sell in its T-shirts.

Gracienne Myers, a Brazilian shoe designer, is also joining the growing number of designers dedicated to earth-friendly materials. Myers paired up with Evian at last week's Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week to accessorize outfits for the Evian girls, models who promote Evian products. The Evian girls wore pink bamboo and silk hemp dresses along with Myers' custom-designed shoes.

(China Daily/Agencies September 26, 2008)

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