The impacts cotton has on the environment are unfortunately quite severe. From tiny microbe fibres entering our washing machine pipes that end up in our oceans, to the toxic chemicals used to print colours on clothes being one of the largest polluters of clean water globally. It is pretty intense!
Fortunately there are some ways you can reduce your environmental footprint and choose an alternative to polyester or cotton produced clothing.
Factors that influence a fibre’s sustainability fall under the following:
- Amount of fertilizers used to increase yield
- Unsustainable and unethical deforestation
- Amount of chemicals used in the manufacturing process and,
- Amount of hazardous waste that goes into the environment
To identify whether an eco clothing brand not only uses materials that are more sustainable than cotton or polyester for example, but that they get their product from a place that has regulated certifications from companies that align themselves with sustainable practices.
Bamboo is one popular example of a replacement to cotton for those that want to buy environmentally friendly clothing.
Bamboo is definitely a more sustainable crop to grow in comparison to cotton because it is a very fast growing grass, in fact it reaches its full height in only 8-10 weeks, and since bamboo is a grass it can be continually re-harvested without replanting. Additional to this, because of its naturally fast growth, it does not need the use of fertilizer to mass produce.
In regards to water usage bamboo requires 1/3 the amount of water that is used to grow cotton and has no natural pests. This means that bamboo can be grown with little to no use of pesticides or herbicides whereas cotton can require a large amount of pesticides to meet yield requirements. The benefits are incredible!
Bamboo therefore already shows to be a large benefactor over cotton which uses large amounts of water, pesticides and labour.
So is Bamboo the Best Choice for Sustainable Clothing?
Unfortunately there are some down falls in the bamboo industry because even though bamboo does not need to be fertilized, we cannot find out if the farmers in China, where it is most commonly grown, are using more pesticides or fertilizers to maximize their yield. Additionally, we do not know what forests they are chopping down and if they are doing so in a sustainable and ethical way such as taking into account what species they may be affecting such as the panda or the hundreds of other bamboo species which rely heavily on bamboo for survival.
What is also not so perfect is that most bamboo fabrics on the market are a form of rayon where the manufacturing process is highly intensive and involves many harmful chemicals. So we want to avoid these.
So although the Bamboo textile is not perfect it is still more sustainable than the common cotton and more so if bought from brands that ensure sustainable farming and forestry methods are used to make their clothing. It is also important that they ensure measures in chemical use in the manufacturing processes are checked with environmental certification bodies. After that, you have found a great brand!
What Brand Can We Trust?
A brand that sells eco-friendly clothing and strives to do all they can to ensure they produce high sustainable and ethical clothing when using Bamboo is the Boody Eco Wear.
They admit that there is no perfect way of making 100% sustainable clothing but they come pretty close! They do this by making sure all their brand factories have an ISO certification, which means they are all environmentally aware, recycle all their waste and ensure that when they dye their fabric, the polluted water is not released into the environment. Additionally, the dyes used are all low in salt, all their packaging is recyclable and the inks are vegetable based.
They also have FSC (Forests For All Forever) certification to make sure the bamboo they source is from forests which are managed in a way that not only takes cares of the wildlife and plants that live there but cares for the workers and local communities who rely on these forests too.
Additionally, all their yarn is Oeko-Tex 100 certified which incorporates the “Confidence in Textiles” certification. This means that there are no harmful chemicals or toxins found in their clothing, as well as eliminating all trace chemicals that could pose any health threats.
Boody Eco Wear provides bamboo underwear for ladies and men as well as activewear, socks, tops, singlets, and accessories.
“All Boody garments are made from organically grown bamboo and produced adhering to the highest standards for both the planet and our workers.”
“We are committed to producing high-quality products and focus on sustainable materials and practices so that we have a minimum footprint on our planet and a positive impact on its people.” Boody Eco Wear
So when you are searching for an environmentally friendly clothing brand, just remember to have a look into the company by seeing if their values are aligned to sustainability and environmental care as well as checking if they have the necessary certifications to prove their efforts in bringing you, not only high sustainable clothing but ones that are of high quality too.
I hope you found this information helpful and I would be excited to hear from you about some clothing brands that you think are killing it in their sustainability efforts!
FOUNDER OF THE EARTH CO.