Bamboo has grown in popularity as a trending fiber - a versatile replacement to a wide array of materials such as plastic, wood, and even steel, bamboo seems to solve much of our questions on how to be more eco-friendly in our day-to-day.
But in-and-of itself, is bamboo sustainable?
The answer is yes but also no. As with most manufactured products, there is always at least some environmental footprint. But when sourced and processed properly, bamboo products offer a much better alternative than its counterparts.
What Makes Bamboo Sustainable?
Bamboo is a hardy type of grass that doesn’t need any artificial chemicals to grow and thrive. As naturally one of the world’s fastest growing plants, in just 24 hours, bamboo can grow up to 3.5 feet and can be harvested in just 3 to 5 years!
Not only does it grow fast, but it is also renewable, quickly growing back after cutting. This makes it a wonderful alternative to reduce our current annual rate of 18.7 million acres of forests lost to deforestation.
Unlike other crops, bamboo is not very water intensive. In fact, bamboo not only reduces how much we’re taking from the environment, but it actually helps us give back and take care of our environment. Producing more oxygen than standard trees, protecting biodiversity, inhibiting soil erosion and preventing landslides, bamboo is a carbon neutral crop when grown responsibly (when natural forests are not cut down for bamboo farms).
And of course, it’s natural, meaning it can biodegrade, unlike plastic which creates a harmful 300 million+ tons of waste per year on land and in our oceans and waterways.
The strength, durability, and anti-microbial properties of this plant gives bamboo its signature as a versatile material that can replace your plastic toothbrush, plastic straw, and even your clothing (which is surprisingly likely also made from plastic).
Is Bamboo Clothing Sustainable?
The sustainability of bamboo fabric is highly debated though because of the processes used to turn bamboo into a textile. In order to turn bamboo from a woody, fibrous plant into a fiber that can be spun into yarn, it must go through a process to break down the wood into pulp and this requires chemical treatment.
Some bamboo fabric uses less toxic chemicals, and is processed in a closed-loop system to reduce pollution from manufacturing. Some bamboo fabrics are not processed with chemicals at all. These fabrics are processed mechanically, in which the woody part of the plant is crushed, releasing natural enzymes that break the plant down into fibers that can be spun into yarn.
Why Purchase Bamboo Clothing?
Although we offer clothing made from GOTS-certified cotton, we also have clothing made from bamboo fabric due to its breathable, moisture-wicking and sweat-absorption properties and its the beneficial environmental aspects already mentioned above.
While it is not entirely free of any impact we feel that it is a better option than polyester, nylon or conventional cotton and so the benefits outweigh the cons - there is always a compromise in the world of creating products - unless you are completely off the grid and are able to fully function inside of a permaculture system there is always some down side. We will continue to strive towards better choices for you as they become available.
eleven44 intends to support folks on their journey towards a more minimal lifestyle by offering unique, beautiful, versatile and comfortable pieces. At the forefront of the minimalism movement is a passion not only to reduce what we bring into our lives, but a care for the things that we do hold on to. That’s one of the reasons why eco textiles is so important to us.To learn more about how our clothes are made, check out this video on the individuals who make our clothing.