In last week’s post on sustainable fashion I mentioned bamboo as one of the natural fibres to look out for, so today I wanted to explore the eco credentials of bamboo even further! It’s fast become the sustainable material of choice for everything from clothing to home wares and even toothbrushes, so what is it about bamboo that makes it an eco choice?
What’s the eco-deal with bamboo?
Bamboo is a fast-growing plant that is also quick to re-shoot after being harvested, making it a sustainable material choice due to the ease in replenishing it as a resource. It also grows easily without the need for pesticides or fertilisers, and doesn’t need much in the way of water either. Bamboo also produces great amounts of oxygen, as well as absorbing lots of carbon, both of which are super important for our planet. Another great benefit is that bamboo has an extensive root system, which makes it particularly useful for stopping soil erosion, meaning it can be grown on hillsides, and in areas where the soil is in need of some assistance.
Bamboo as a fabric is super soft, making it more like silk than cotton, and it is said to be breathable and even have antimicrobial properties. It also yields ten times more fabric than cotton, adding to its eco-credentials.
Are there any downsides?
Much of the bamboo used in Australia, unsurprisingly, comes from China, which means it comes with some fairly large travel miles, which is not ideal. It also can be tricky to be sure that the bamboo was grown and harvested using ethical labour practices. There are some local sources of bamboo though, and you can find Fairtrade certified bamboo from international sources to help with any ethical concerns around imported bamboo.
There are also some concerns around the process to turn bamboo into fibre to be used in things like clothing and linens, as the most cost-effective way uses a chemical based process as well as bleaching. However, there is a certification you can look for (OEKO-TEX Standard 100) which ensures no harsh chemical residues exist in the final product, so keep an eye out for that if you’re concerned. Regardless, this is seen as a lesser environmental impact than conventional cotton farming, and definitely more eco-friendly than synthetic, petroleum based fabrics like nylon and polyester.
Where is it used?
Bamboo is quickly growing in its versatility, popping up in pretty much everything these days. Here are some of my favourite uses:
- Flooring material in houses – it’s hardwearing, moisture resistance and gorgeous
- Home wares – bowls, serving utensils, computer keyboards you name it!
- Clothing – particularly workout clothes and things like leggings, singlets and the like
- Bedding & towels – I have my eye on some bamboo sheets from Ettitude, aren’t they gorgeous!
- Bath & beauty – makeup brushes (eco-tools are an excellent choice), toothbrushes, clothes pegs, the list goes on!
As more people cotton on (pun intended!) to the usefulness of bamboo I have no doubt we’ll see even more of it in our shops, which has got to be a good thing! For now you might have to search a little harder to find products made from bamboo rather than other materials, but they are definitely out there!