Bamboo fabric is hyped as the best eco-friendly choice but how friendly is it to the environment?
Bamboo fabrics may not be as green as you think. Depending on the process from plant to fabric, it can be eco-friendly or it can actually be harmful to the environment. There is a lot of controversy about this new trending textile in the eco-fashion.
Bamboo has been praised as being one of the most environmentally-friendly textiles in the business. It is certainly firm and sustainable. It has a reliable reputation from its advantage to human, our planet, and in the clothing industry.
Bamboo fabric is eco-friendly because of the renewability of bamboo itself. The delicate touch and a piece of durable fabric will make you feel satisfied. It is breathable to stay cool in any weather. This is pretty good for sportswear.
The advantages of bamboo are overflowing to our planet. It develops fast and ready to be harvested in four years. It doesn’t need replanting because of its reproduction capability from its root networking. Bamboo typically grows with no pesticides and fertilizers.
Why is there such a controversy about bamboo fabric?
Bamboo products are considered eco-friendly as long as they are not chemically treated. However, rayon production is contaminating and damaging to our environment. It is named as an unsustainable fabric despite the fact that it is made of bamboo.
Lyocell as an alternative is an eco-friendly fabric that represents a breakthrough in the growth of environmentally sustainable material. Sustainable and eco-friendly clothing has a great meaning to our environment. Lyocell is commonly made from eucalyptus plants and now bamboo as well.
This type of fabric has been declared by environmental journalists as an innovative fiber. It represents a breakthrough in the evolution of environmentally valuable textiles. It is made from wood flesh and dissolved by applying a non-toxic solution providing non-hazardous discharge.
What is eco-fashion?
Eco-fashion is not just an environmentally-conscious label. It covers the complete manufacturing process from raw materials to the finished product. The materials used in apparel doesn’t really have to be purely organic. What’s more important is that the materials used are sustainable just like bamboo. Plant-based dyes are now becoming more and more popular to present a bright color to any eco-friendly fabric.
There are a lot of companies looking to lower their expenses. They are attempting to lower the price options to customers focused on economizing. The characteristics of the lyocell substances have made it a favorite in the field of fashion and clothing industry. We hope that eco-fashion is here to stay. It’s not just feeling great about wearing such clothes, you will look gorgeous too!
What are the benefits of using bamboo fabric?
The bamboo fabric keeps you smelling fresh. This fiber is naturally UV resistant which prevents skin cancer. It is hypoallergenic and will not cause skin irritations. The fabric is so smooth and is similar to silk. It is durable, resistant to wrinkles, and can be machine washed.
This is best worn in summer because it can make you feel cooler. It can also keep you warmer in winter. Warm air is trapped in the fiber creating natural insulation. Sweat build-up is also what makes you feel colder in winter. 100% organic bamboo fabric is a good choice as it sweeps away sweat from the body making you feel more warmth.
Bamboo fibers are highly breathable and absorbent. It absorbs moisture properly maintaining your skin dry and cool during those hot summer months compared to other fabrics. It can absorb three to four times more water than the conventional cotton fabric.
How are bamboo fabrics made?
There are two procedures to prepare bamboo and manufacture it into a fabric: The mechanical and the chemical process. The mechanical process means smashing the woody section of bamboo and then applying natural enzymes. The fibers are mechanically untangled and spun into yarn.
The chemical process requires transforming the fiber into regenerated cellulose which is similar to rayon or modal. This is the traditional and common method used in the production of bamboo apparel.
What is a closed-loop system?
A closed-loop system is the production process of recycling products and packaging into new things. So, instead of discarding waste into the bin or in landfills, they are treated and made into the same kind of substances or repurposed as brand-new goods.
What is rayon?
Rayon is apparently the most misinterpreted of all fibers. It is not natural and it is also not a synthetic fiber. It is produced by reconstructing natural substances into a useful form. This is maybe the reason why people are getting confused about the reliability of bamboo fabrics.
Rayon is a man-made thread produced from the cellulose of plants and trees. Any plant or tree can be utilized as a source of cellulose including bamboo. It is also called hydrolysis alkalization because the fiber is spun in a chemical solvent.
It can exclusively be called bamboo only if they are made right from the original bamboo fiber. Those made from rayon that was produced using bamboo as a plant source should be promoted as rayon made from bamboo. Bamboo fabric can only be called eco-friendly when the mechanical process is used to produce a fabric with the original bamboo fiber.
Consumers are often deceived by the inaccurate title. When we hear bamboo fabric, we automatically assume that the entire product is made of bamboo, which is often not the case.
Is rayon biodegradable?
Rayon textiles are not biodegradable. They will not decompose in a short time even after proper disposal. It is recyclable but never biodegradable. Even with the advancements of technology, most rayon manufacturing methods in use nowadays are still not recognized as environmentally friendly.
Why is the rayon process not eco-friendly?
The cellulose needs to be purified and bleached before drenching in sodium hydroxide. Then they treat it with carbon disulfide. Next, it whirls in a liquid mixture made of zinc, glucose, sulphuric acid, and sodium sulfate. With active discharges to air and water, the method of rayon puts it in the classification of a high impact material.
The restoration of the solution in most factories is around 50%, and the other half goes into our environment. Which is really dangerous. See? They don’t simply affect the quality of the fabric. The chemical runoff from the factories who produced the fabric is also damaging to local surroundings.
Does rayon process keep the benefits of bamboo?
Rayon doesn’t preserve any natural antimicrobial qualities of the original bamboo plant. The production process eradicates these natural bamboo features. Again, they are not biodegradable. They will not break down in a short time. Be careful about looking for tags and don’t get bamboozled.
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How can we tell if the bamboo fabric is eco-friendly?
Lyocell means that the water and chemicals associated with making the fabric are recycled. They don’t get an opportunity to escape into the surroundings. Its fiber is fully biodegradable. The production process produces no toxic byproducts.
Companies are now heading towards manufacturing bamboo textiles in a similar manner to lyocell because of its advantages. These fabrics can be dyed to high-quality standards perfect for the fashion world. It is breathable and 50% higher moisture absorption compared to cotton. This makes the fabric antibacterial. A bamboo fabric may take a year or more to biodegrade.
Lyocell fabric is best for people with sensitive skin. It makes your skin dry and free from bacterial growth because of sweat. This fabric is perfect for people who are always on the go.
Bamboo linen is made from a mechanical process where the woody portions of bamboo are removed straight from bamboo culms, smashing the wooden piece and applying a native enzyme to break down the walls and obtain the bamboo fiber. It is nevertheless a labor-intensive manner but provides a reliable, high-quality textile. Strength is one major factor to sustainability in the clothing business.
Here are more ways to make sure you are buying eco-friendly bamboo textiles:
- Make sure to check for Oeko-Tex certified. These fabrics have been tested to be harmless for human use. However, it doesn’t indicate that no chemicals were used. It means that no chemicals were identified in the final result.
- Look for organic certifications on products. Organic certification indicates that the products are raised according to the meticulous procedure on the use of petroleum-based composts, pesticides, and some artificial products.
- Tencel is a branded lyocell fiber. It is a reconstructed cellulose fiber but treated with a non-toxic spinning solution in a closed-loop system.
- If you still have to buy rayon, you can still take part in caring for our environment by choosing from factories that don’t harm our environment.
- There is a bamboo viscose that is treated without using zinc sulfate and chlorine-containing bleach, so choose wisely.
- Take the lead to buy only from companies that manufacture using the lyocell methods or those that don’t use toxic solutions to create the bamboo fiber.
How to compost bamboo textiles?
You may not be able to donate worn-out clothes to charities. You may not be artistic enough to recycle it. So, here’s another way for you to throw compostable textiles.
First, cut them off into little pieces. They will be broken down easily when turned into small bits. Make sure to remove any non-biodegradable parts like zippers and buttons. Hot composting is better because it can decompose in about 18 days. You may also add worms to speed it up.
Rayon may take up to 200 years before it can be fully decomposed. Make sure to choose wisely when shopping. If you have time, you may do a little research on the best companies. Always purchase a fabric that has been naturally dyed because it helps to prevent further contamination and pollution to Mother Earth.
The production of bamboo fiber may or may not be toxic to both operators and our environment. It is better to always check your tags and don’t just take the word of a company when attempting to buy sustainable fabrics. When in doubt, you can do your research or check for other choices.
If we care about nature, we should also care about the byproducts of those companies claiming to produce organic or safe bamboo fabrics. Otherwise, we may be paying a high price in the future. This is an eye-opener for those who wish to maintain a green lifestyle.