Bamboo fibre is a natural antibacterial. It also has thermoregulatory properties and can wick moisture away from the skin to keep it cool. It also allows you to wear your clothes longer, reducing washing and making the garments more sustainable.
However, most soft “bamboo” fabrics on the market today are actually bamboo rayon processed into viscose or silky fabric using chemicals such as sodium hydroxide and carbon disulfide which can be harmful to workers if not properly managed. Look for brands that mention their process and where their fibers are sourced from to ensure sustainability.
Soft to the touch
Bamboo fabrics are extremely soft, supple and drape well. They also resist lint and pet hair and hold color beautifully. They also breathe easily, helping to regulate body temperature and are said to absorb perspiration odor.
While traditional bamboo fabric is processed chemically, causing potential water pollution and posing a risk to the environment, there is a newer manufacturing process called the Lenzing rayon from bamboo (also known as Lyocell) which uses closed-loop processing instead. While this method still uses carbon disulfide, it has less impact on the environment and is more sustainable than conventional viscose fabric.
Some brands use both methods and combine them with organic cotton for a great look and feel! ONNO, for example, produces a range of women’s bamboo t-shirts and long-sleeves made from their ONNOcell fabric. This is a soft, breathable blend of 70% bamboo lyocell and 30% organic cotton. They also have a strict ethical sourcing policy and personally oversee all aspects of their supply chain.
Bamboo fibres have a natural hypoallergenic structure and therefore are extremely gentle to the skin. It is also breathable and thermo-regulating, meaning it can keep you cooler in warmer weather. This enables your body to release heat in a more efficient way. This keeps your clothes fresh for longer, reducing the amount of times you have to wash them, which in turn reduces waste.
Unlike cotton, bamboo requires no pesticides or fertilizers to grow and consumes much less water. It is also a renewable resource that can help protect steep banks from erosion.
The sustainable bamboo clothing brand Boody uses a closed-loop system in their manufacturing process, meaning that any chemicals used are captured and not released into the environment. Similarly, the eco-conscious label Cariloha uses a similar approach in their production of bamboo viscose fabrics. They use organic and GOTS certified ingredients in their fabric and are committed to producing an environmentally conscious alternative to cotton.
There is a lot of content out there that claims bamboo clothes are naturally anti-bacterial and therefore prevent unpleasant odors from sweat. This is a myth that needs to be dispelled.
The majority of bamboo shirts on the market are made using a process called viscose that involves dissolving cellulose fibers in chemicals. This is not a sustainable or green process, and it can be harmful to the environment. In order to avoid this, choose a brand that uses a closed-loop production system that reuses and recycles the liquids.
Another option is to opt for a bamboo viscose fabric that is GOTS and Ecocert certified. Some brands such as Boody use bamboo yarns and fabrics that are grown without pesticides, fertilizer, or irrigation and whose manufacturing is a carbon-neutral and ozone-friendly process. These companies are also committed to ethical business practices and are transparent about their sourcing and manufacturing processes. They also support the local community and donate second-hand clothing to those in need.
Bamboo is a more sustainable fabric than cotton, as it does not require pesticides or fertilizers and uses less water than conventional crops. It is also naturally resistant to insect infestations, and produces more oxygen, according to Central European University research (opens in new tab). Bamboo rayon is biodegradable and takes a year or less to break down in landfills.
Look for a brand that is transparent about the bamboo used to make their clothing. Check whether the bamboo is organically grown and how it is turned into fabric. Look for certifications such as OEKO-TEX and Fair Trade to ensure no chemicals have been used in the production process.
A sustainable bamboo shirt will be made with a softer, smoother and silkier fabric than traditional cotton. It will also feel cool and comfortable on the skin, helping to soothe rashes and irritation that often arise during pregnancy. Bamboo also has the ability to absorb moisture and wick it away, keeping your body feeling dry and fresh for longer.