Cotton has long been the go-to option for those of us searching for a light, attractive fabric, free from the environmental burden which is associated with the manufacturing process of synthetics such as polyester. However, while natural, cotton is by no means a sustainable option, and it may well be worthwhile to consider opting for more environmentally friendly fibers such as bamboo, which have become widely available recently.
One major setback to cotton is the necessary use of insecticides to repel the mites and pests which would otherwise destroy the crops. In fact, cotton is the crop which is subject to the highest rate of insecticide use in the world! This should be of huge concern to anyone who cares about the environment, and the wellbeing of farmers who produce their clothing, as insecticides are highly poisonous to both humans and animals and can leave waterways and soil infected, even years after their use. Obviously, this has terrible effects on wildlife and the health of people living near to the crops. There is also huge added risk to the cotton farmers themselves, many of whom live in rural areas and lack the money and education to use appropriate safety equipment to prevent themselves or their food and drink coming directly into contact with the harmful chemicals used.
Bamboo on the other hand, perhaps somewhat miraculously, requires absolutely no use of insecticides, as it simply does not attract pests. This is in part due to its natural anti-bacterial qualities, which the fabric also maintains throughout its lifespan as clothing, meaning that bamboo is not only far more environmentally friendly than cotton, but also naturally resists bacteria and odors.
Another important aspect which sets bamboo apart from cotton is its low water consumption. It requires far less water and energy to grow than cotton and other fibers, and us also highly renewable – it is able to be harvested and completely regenerate over a very short time span. Making it a great, sustainable crop to grow in a world with scarce water and energy supplies. Bamboo crops are also able to survive both droughts and floods, so there is very little wasted resources involved in raising the crops, even in adverse conditions. As an added bonus, bamboo has displayed a tendency to purify the soils in which it grows.
While the environmental benefits of adopting bamboo as a fabric of choice seen indisputable, it is understandable that even the most well-intending conscious consumer may harbor a few doubts about leaping straight into a new ‘wonder fabric’. After all, there is nothing worse than discovering that your new blouse irritates your skin, or being restricted to the few frumpy styles available in an alternative store. However, bamboo fabric need not give rise to either of these concerns.
The fibers which make up the fabric are very smooth, so bamboo clothing is luxuriously soft and is highly unlikely to irritate the skin in the way that coarser wools and hemp items are known to. Bamboo has also been adopted by many retailers who offer a large and varied range of styles, colors, and fits – so whatever the look you are going for may be, you’ll be able to pull it off without the lingering guilt of environmental damage and waste.