created in partnership with Boody

Is Bamboo Actually A Sustainable Fashion Fibre Choice?

As consumers, we’ve never been more aware of the impacts our sartorial choices can have on the planet. But as more brands throw around sustainability buzzwords like “recycled materials” and “ethically sourced”, it can be hard to wade through the overwhelmingly greenwashed eco-friendly fashion forest. 
One material that has caught the eco-conscious consumer’s attention over the last few years is bamboo. But what makes this a sustainable choice compared to the fabrics we see in high-street stores?

Bamboo basics 

While using bamboo in clothes seems to be a 21st-century invention, the plant has been used in products for 7000 years. It is one of the fastest-growing types of grass on the planet, can adapt to a variety of climates, and it’s been claimed that growing bamboo usually requires no pesticides or fertilisers, making it naturally organic. 
According to one study, bamboo plants can be harvested sustainably in three to five-year cycles – unlike a tree forest that takes over 60 years to recover from deforestation.
The plant also improves soil quality and can help to rebuild eroded soil due to the bamboo root systems staying intact post-harvesting. It also doesn’t require replanting as it’s regenerative. 
Between the plant’s high growth rate and carbon-absorbing properties, it’s one of the more sustainable materials in our fight against climate change and environmental degradation. 

How is bamboo fabric made? 

While bamboo harvesting is incredibly environmentally helpful, turning it into fabric is a little more complicated. Rebecca Innes, the Product Lead at Boody, an environmentally-conscious fashion and intimates brand, tells Refinery29 Australia the difference between bamboo fabrics and bamboo blends. 
“Bamboo yarns and fabrics all originate from commercial bamboo forests where the leaves and inner pith of hard bamboo tree trunks are extracted and crushed into a pulp. If you made fibre or yarn out of the pulp, it could be classified as 100% bamboo fabric.” 
Innes says that for the bamboo yarn to be commercially viable and durable, it has to go through a viscose process. 
“[This] is the reason we now must legally say ‘viscose made from bamboo’,” notes Innes. 
After processing, the regenerated bamboo fibres are spun into yarns. Innes explains that once in yarn form, you can knit or weave 100% viscose made from bamboo fabric, or you can blend it with other fibres. 

Why should you choose it? 

Now we know how it’s made, what are the benefits of this super-plant fibre? 
Firstly, it’s incredibly comfortable. Although going through a viscose process, the bamboo fibre retains all of its positive properties. According to one study, the fibre also has antimicrobial properties, moisture-wicking capabilities and is anti-static in nature. It's also highly breathable and soft.
This is why brands like Boody are using the eco-friendly fibre for intimates such as underwear and socks. 
“Bamboo viscose draws moisture away from the body which then evaporates through the fabric, allowing the skin to breathe,” says Innes.
Because bamboo fibres are comfortable and durable, it means they’ll stay in your underwear drawer (and out of landfill) for longer. 
Considering women have accepted g-strings that dig in, uncomfortable shapewear, and synthetic (and sweaty) underwear for decades, it’s refreshing to have the option of soft fibres that are better for the planet.
While there’s still a ways to go in fibre sustainability, there’s no denying that when compared to virgin nylon and polyester, bamboo is the environmentally-positive choice (and comfy to boot).
Want to try out Boody underwear for yourself? Boody is taking over the Bondi Laundrlab for The Undie Exchange on the 25th and 26th of August. Bring in your old, uncomfortable underwear in exchange for a fresh pair of Boody bamboo viscose knickers.
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