We’re proud to be the first print shop in the U.S. to offer printing on a luxury bamboo paper.
Why bamboo? Bamboo is a truly sustainable and renewable resource. It’s the fastest growing plant on this planet; it grows without pesticides or fertilizers; and it requires very little water to grow. Bamboo also makes (hands down) the prettiest paper out there. We partnered with a 500-year-old European paper mill to develop this fine artisan paper just for us.
What is our bamboo paper like? It’s extremely soft, luxuriously thick, and elegantly textured. It’s also perfect for letterpress. Essentially, imagine the highest quality cotton paper. Now imagine something even prettier and without the pesticides used in cotton production.
We consider bamboo to be a true wonder plant. In addition to not requiring pesticides or fertilizer to grow, bamboo reaches its mature harvestable height in 3 to 5 years (versus 10-20 years for most softwoods). Bamboo generates up to 35% more oxygen than hardwood trees, and absorbs four times as much carbon as hardwood. Bamboo can detoxify wastewater (due to its high nitrogen consumption) and improve soil quality. If that wasn’t enough, bamboo also has natural anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties too.
Why not use cotton paper like most letterpress printshops? Like most printers, we love the quality cotton lends a fine paper, and we appreciate that cotton papers are made from fibers reclaimed from the garment industry. But as we learned about the cotton industry’s reliance on pesticides and fertilizers, we became alarmed at the amount of chemicals cotton adds to the Earth. Cotton is one of the most chemically-dependent crops, sucking up 10% of all agricultural chemicals and 25% of insecticides on 3% of arable land worldwide, more than any other crop per unit. In 2003, 55 million pounds of pesticides were dumped over US cotton fields. In addition, cotton requires a tremendous amount of water to grow — 550 to 950 liters per square meter planted (it’s one of the thirstiest agricultural crops out there). Until the cotton industry adopts more sustainable practices, we wanted to seek out a paper less damaging to the planet.
The bamboo for Smocks paper is harvested in Thailand without use of pesticides or fertilizer. The bamboo used in our paper is not genetically modified. Our bamboo is supplied by local farmers and is not harvested from areas where traditional or civil rights are violated, nor does it come from natural forests that have been converted to plantations.