5 Reasons bamboo clothing is not as eco-friendly as you think


If you're just a bit into eco-friendly clothing, you probably came across bamboo. It is often marketed as a sustainable option but without giving further information on why. Let's take a closer look beyond that green bamboo picture, and we'll see some problems. It's not all negative, though. I will leave you with some advantages and links to read or watch more.


5 Reasons bamboo clothing is not as eco-friendly as you think - Zebraspider Eco Anti-Fashion Blog



It's greenwashing at its finest. Most "bamboo" textiles are actually made from viscose, not the natural plant fibre itself. Viscose is a regenerated cellulose fibre. Therefore, it has to be labelled as such in Europe and in the US, where it's usually called rayon.
To make any form of viscose, the raw material (bamboo or wood) is shredded and dissolved in harsh chemicals (sodium hydroxide, carbon disulfide). For making the actual fibres, the viscous solution is then extruded in sulphuric acid into form filaments.


5 Reasons bamboo clothing is not as eco-friendly as you think - black bamboo viscose jersey fabric - Zebraspider Eco Anti-Fashion Blog


This process needs a lot of water, more than 500 litres per 1 kg of fibre produced. It includes several washing steps and produces wastewater with the chemicals mentioned above. Depending on the place of production, these might go directly into the environment.
The production of bamboo viscose uses a lot of energy, almost as much as fully synthetic fibres like polyester and nylon. Therefore, they have a much larger carbon footprint than entirely natural fibres. We also don't really know how much forest clearance is done for bamboo.


5 Reasons bamboo clothing is not as eco-friendly as you think - don't fall for the greenwashing - Zebraspider Eco Anti-Fashion Blog



The rest of the manufacturing is not certified like GOTS cotton products are. The textiles are bleached and dyed using conventional processes with all their negative consequences. All the chemicals are harmful to the workers too when not handled safely.
Of course, bamboo viscose also has some advantages compared to other fibres. Being cellulosic and not petrol-based, it is biodegradable. The main plus for bamboo as raw material is that it grows really fast and doesn't need pesticides (unlike cotton). It also regrows when cut because it's a grass. In terms of water usage, it still needs much less than conventional, irrigated cotton.


5 Reasons bamboo clothing is not as eco-friendly as you think - slow fashion is better - Zebraspider Eco Anti-Fashion Blog


If you leave the big brands aside and go to the designers who make slow fashion, you can get bamboo clothing with a reduced environmental impact. Many make beautiful clothing and use low impact dyes in small batches on unbleached fabrics. I love that it's so soft and lovely to wear - and still much better than synthetics or conventional cotton.


I do have some bamboo / organic cotton fabrics in my stash, but I generally prefer Tencel. You can find a bit more about that here, but I will write more about eco-friendly materials in the future. What would you like to know?
Sources and further reading:


Zebraspider Updates

Don't miss any new one-of-a-kind design! Be the first to know about shop updates, events and the best blog posts by joining the email list!

You may also be interested in:

Write a comment

Comments: 0