This entry was posted on July 7, 2016.
What is the life cycle of bedding? In particular, what is the life cycle of bamboo bedding or silk bedding? How does bamboo go from being a seed to super soft sheets? How do silkworms produce enough silk to create a cozy comforter? Moreover, how long does this organic bedding last and what do you do with it once it’s worn out? The answers to these questions and more are below!
Let’s start with the life cycle of bamboo or silk bedding. There are four stages in the life cycle of this bedding, including:
The first phase in the life cycle of bamboo and silk bedding is producing the material. In this case, that means actually growing the bamboo or raising the silkworms. So, how does bamboo grow and how do silkworms produce silk?
Like all plants, bamboo starts out as a seed. As it soaks up water and nutrients from the soil, a bamboo seed sprouts, develops roots, and eventually grows into bamboo shoots. These bamboo shoots reach their adult height after only a couple of months. However, most manufactures wait four years after planting bamboo seeds to allow the bamboo grove time to fully mature.
While this initial four years may seem like a long time, a mature bamboo grove can yield bamboo again and again. Bamboo is a grass and therefore grows back when it is cut down. This quality makes bamboo an exceptional source material because it can be harvested repeatedly in a short amount of time.
Additionally, bamboo doesn’t need to be treated with pesticides during any phase of its growth. A renewable resource and free of chemicals – what more could you want from a source material?
Now that you know how bamboo grows, it’s time to move onto silk. How do silkworms produce silk anyway?
Well, silkworms are very similar to caterpillars. Like caterpillars, silkworms go through a metamorphosis, but instead of turning into butterflies, they turn into moths. To transform into a moth, they spin a cocoon and this cocoon is what silk is made from.
To spin their cocoons, silkworms produce one long, continuous thread made from digested mulberry leaves. This means that one silkworm cocoon equals one thread of silk. Over 10,000 cocoons are used in the production of one silk comforter.
The second stage in the life cycle of this organic bedding is turning the bamboo or silk into bedding. So, how do you turn bamboo shoots and the cocoons of silkworms into soft sheets and cozy comforters?
The first step in manufacturing bedding is turning the raw materials into thread. To turn bamboo into thread, the bamboo shoots are first cut down, shaved, and soaked in a sodium solution. The resulting bamboo pulp is then cooled and dried in a mold to create the individual threads.
To turn the cocoons of silkworms into thread, the cocoons are first soaked in hot water to loosen the fibers. Each cocoon is then combed to find the end of the fiber strand. This fiber end is threaded through a needle and pulled until the entire cocoon is unraveled. Once the cocoon is completely unraveled, it yields one long, continuous thread.
It’s important to note that neither bamboo nor silk needs to be treated with hazardous chemicals to be turned into thread.
After the bamboo shoots and cocoons of the silkworms are turned into thread, the process of weaving those threads into high-quality cloth is remarkably similar. Both long-strand bamboo and silk threads are anchored at the edges of the fabric. Each thread is then stretched across the entire length of the resulting material and secured at the other end. Then, the same technique is used to weave the thread perpendicularly through the first set of threads and ta da! You have fabric made from bamboo or silk.
The last step in the manufacturing process is fairly straightforward. The organic cloth is sewn into bedding such as sheets, blankets, and comforters. It is then packaged and mailed to your front door.
Once the bedding reaches your front door, it enters the third phase in its lifecycle. The third phase is when you actually use your organic bedding. During this time period, you snooze under your bedding, wash it, store it, bring it back out, and start the whole process over again.
What doesn’t happen during this time period is actually more interesting than what does happen. While you’re snoozing under your cozy comforter, you sweat a lot. Your pores also excrete oils as you sleep, leaving a thin film of body oil on your bedding. Yet, bamboo and silk never yellow or gray because they aren’t absorbent. As a result, bamboo and silk bed sets can last up to 15 years!
During this time period, you probably want to know how to care for your bamboo or silk bedding so you reach that incredible time mark. To find out how to take care of your organic bedding, read How to Care for Your Bamboo Bedding. These instructions work for both bamboo and silk because they’re surprisingly similar materials.
780 washes and 15 years later, your beautiful bedding starts to wear out. This brings us to the fourth and final step in the life cycle of bedding: recycling or repurposing your bedding.
So, what do you do with your bamboo or silk bedding once it’s too worn out for your bed? Do you just throw it out? No! There are hundreds of uses for old bedding!
For example, you can use your bamboo sheets to sew a light summer dress. Imagine how cool and comfortable a bamboo dress would be. Another option is cutting up your silk sheets to make a silk table cloth and matching napkins. You might even be able to donate your old bamboo or silk bedspread to a homeless shelter. After all, they’re probably still in good condition since bamboo and silk are so durable.
For more ideas on what to do with your worn out bedding, read Top Ten: Ways to Recycle Your Old Towels and Sheets.
As you can see, every step in the life cycle of bamboo bedding and silk bedding reflects the eco-friendly nature of these organic materials. For instance, in Stage 1 of this bedding’s life cycle, you see that bamboo and silk are both natural materials. In Stage 2, you see that neither is treated with harsh chemicals during any phase of their production.
Moreover, since they’re 100% organic and chemical-free, bamboo and silk are hypoallergenic. As a consequence, you reap the rewards of green-living when you sleep under this bedding in Stage 3. After enjoying the benefits of this eco-friendly bedding for 15 years, recycling your bedspread to protect the environment is a natural and easy choice in Stage 4.
So, are you ready to invest in a bamboo or silk bed set now that you understand they’re life cycle and eco-friendly benefits?