Is Bamboo the Sustainable Material we’ve all been waiting for?
Truth or trend I hear you ask! Well, buckle in whilst we debate this hot topic.
Why is it great?
- Bamboo absorbs 2x more carbon dioxide and produces 35% more oxygen than most plants and trees
- To reach its maturity only takes 1 to 5 years (2 feet in one day!), meaning that harvesting can occur up to 10x more often than most trees
- After being harvested, it can regrow from its own root system rather than needing re-planting - meaning it is naturally renewable and improving the health of the soil
- It is naturally pest resistant, so doesn’t require all those nasty pesticides
- It is a super strong material!
Amazing, right? But alas, there are some downsides:
- The only country in the world currently producing Bamboo on a mass scale is China, meaning the carbon footprint on your items is likely to be pretty hefty
- Remember the negative headlines around the sharp rise of Avocado farms in South America impacting natural ecosystems? Bamboo is following this trend. Introducing a monoculture of a single crop creates issues for smaller animals that rely on diverse ecosystems for nutrition and habitat
- There are few agricultural standards in China, so there is no guarantee that the production of Bamboo is being done in an environmentally conscious way
- To produce some bamboo fabrics, the material goes through an intense chemical process (fancy a bit of sulphuric acid and sodium hydroxide in your socks anyone?!)
So, to ensure you are indeed doing your bit for the planet, what are the key questions to ask when looking at Bamboo alternative products?
- Where is the item produced and shipped from and how does this compare to the ‘less sustainable’ material you have been using to date? There’s a lot to be said for UK made, however your plastic toothbrush is likely to come from further afield too!
- Have any nasty chemicals been used in the production of the item? If considering fabrics: bamboo linen is good, bamboo lyocell is okay, bamboo rayon is a no-go
- Does the company provide detail around the production process or supply chain? Transparency is key here…
- And finally, do you need it? After all it has been said that “the most sustainable outfit is the one you already have in your wardrobe”