Five Bamboo is an exciting eco-entrepreneur story of five young siblings (Zahlen, Xtehn, Vehro, Rohre and Qxhna Titcomb of Five Ultimate fame) who came together to make a difference! Five Bamboo is a new kind of bamboo clothing company that is deeply rooted in sustainability.
We all know bamboo is a renewable resource and the fastest growing grass in the world. Due to its fast growth, bamboo actually captures more CO2 than equivalent stands of trees. Unlike cotton, bamboo plants require very little water, pesticides or fertilizers to reach maturity and have complex root systems that naturally prevent soil erosion. As a result, bamboo is significantly less intensive than cotton and can be a an eco-friendly alternative.
Why is Five Bamboo Unique? Bamboo fibers are very short (less than 3mm), they are impossible to transform into yarn via a natural process. The vast majority of bamboo clothing providers currently make their textiles via the viscose process. Consumers are often green-washed into believing that if the fabric is bamboo, its green and sustainable. Two hazardous chemical solvents are used in the viscose process, that can leach into the environment–sodium hydroxide and carbon disulfide. Carbon disulfide poses not only an environmental threat, known to cause neural disorders in workers exposed to the compound. Sodium hydroxide is also thought to pose significant environmental and health threats. At Five Bamboo, the Nomo™ Clean Bamboo fiber is created using the closed-loop lyocell process. Throughout the process, no harmful chemicals are used, no harmful gases are released, and virtually no waste is created. The siblings did not take the easy route, but spent the first two years of Five Bamboo researching the bamboo lyocell process and finding companies that meet their high standards.
Five Bamboo has all the makings of a successful eco-business and more!
Founders with exotic names: Check! The Titcomb siblings are fun, spirited and this reflects in their company.
International exposure: Check! The siblings have been raised in United States, Italy, France, Jordan and China. They contribute their understanding of environmental impacts to their varied cultural exposure.
Ambition: Check! The Titcombs (all under 28) founded their first company in early 2006. Five Ultimate is a very popular sports apparel manufacturer, wholesaler, and retailer based on the sport of Ultimate Frisbee. The founders paired their knowledge of the apparel industry with their passion for the environment to come up with Five Bamboo.
Holistic Mission, Transparency & Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR): Check! The founders truly understand the meaning of sustainable and ensure they are not just sourcing products. They are actively involved in their supply chain and guarantee their manufacturing process. Five Bamboo has employees in China who visit their manufacturing plants and ensure the factories offer a safe working environment, fair wages and comply with all applicable environmental laws and regulations.
Innovation: Check! Five Bamboo acknowledges that sustainability is a moving target and this inspires them everyday to work together towards a greater goal, to create something better, and to have a positive impact. They currently offer a range of versatile products from undergarments to outerwear.
Closing the Loop: Check! At Five Bamboo, products are tested to make sure all the items are as durable as possible while maintaining high quality standards. They encourage customers to donate their clothing when done with it and to avoid the use-and-throw attitude. Their future plans include a product take-back program, turning your old bamboo apparel into new bamboo apparel.
Using business as a tool, Five Bamboo hopes to shift the apparel industry in a more responsible direction. The textile industry is environmentally intensive. The production of today’s popular fabrics, like cotton and polyester, has lasting effects on ecosystems, contributing to water shortages, climate change, pollution, and waste generation. The founders believe:
There are a lot of people around the world talking about how to do the right thing, how to make a difference, and how to take a stance. Talk is great, but actions speak louder than words. Only a few are walking the walk.
Five Bamboo has business values that could be a model for many companies looking to incorporate sustainable strategies. They have incorporated CSR into their mission, product, service and growth. Its never business as usual for the Titcomb siblings.
Priti Ambani, Ecopreneurist
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