How Sustainable Is Bamboo?

by: Rosie Dalton | 2 weeks ago | Features

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Bamboo is increasingly replacing classic summer fabrics like cotton now and it is often described as a more sustainable fabric. But how sustainable is bamboo really? Well, it is complicated, basically.

To answer this question, we first have to understand what ‘sustainability’ actually means. And that’s no mean feat, considering this is a notoriously vague term, which lacks a solid industry-wide definition.

At Well Made Clothes, we define sustainability as products made with the environment in mind. This means that all of our sustainable brands must have at least 80% of their products made using sustainable materials and sustainable processes.

Where bamboo can be tricky is in the fact that there are significant disparities in the environmental impact of this material, depending on whether it is grown in a conventional or closed loop system. 

According to, Good On You, bamboo can be quite a sustainable crop overall. This is because it is fast-growing, requires no fertiliser or pesticides, needs very little water, and self-regenerates from its own roots.

However, just because a crop doesn’t require pesticides doesn’t necessarily guarantee that it is grown without them. Which is why bamboo can only really be sustainable if it is grown and harvested in a sustainable way, then turned into a fibre using a closed loop system.

Unfortunately, one of the most popular methods for processing bamboo (i.e. turning it from wood cellulose into a silky soft fibre) involves a highly intensive chemical process – one that creates a lot of toxic waste if those chemicals are then released into the environment, rather than being recaptured. 

Which is why it’s important to look for brands that can provide organic certifications for the growing of the raw bamboo as well as OEKO-TEX 100 certifications, which prove that no harmful chemicals were used throughout the various stages of processing the material.

An incredibly nuanced fibre, bamboo can be a really great sustainable option for all of your summer basics. But it does require you to ask a few questions first about how it was made and what impact those processes may have on the planet.

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