Here is an ugly truth we all need to know before even speaking of sustainable fashion: every clothing business has a carbon, a water, a chemical, a waste and a land use impact and an effect on the people who work for them. These impacts aren’t just about manufacturing. It all starts when the plant (bamboo, cotton, flex, hemp etc.) is grown and continues right through to the moment the clothes are recycled.
As you can see, we don't even address here the synthetic fibers (i.e. polyester, nylon, acrylic etc., usually produced from non-renewable resources such as oil), which have a devastating footprint on our planet, as they are not biodegradable and therefore remain in the environment for a long, long time, plus they use energy-intensive technologies during manufacturing. Sadly, nowadays, such fibers account for two-thirds of the material inputs for textiles production. Therefore, the mere choice of plant-based materials and clothes is a simple, yet remarkable step forward towards sustainability we can all make.
So, while there is no 100% ecological fashion yet, sustainable fashion tries to reduce to a minimum the footprint on our planet and have a positive impact on its people and communities. Since, as stated above, the life-cycle of a clothing item spans from plantation until it becomes waste, there are many approaches to thriving for sustainability: minimizing the consumption of resources, choosing low-impact processes and resources, improving production techniques, using organic or sustainable fabrics, improving distribution systems, reducing the impacts created during use, improving the garment’s lifetime or improving the use of end-of-life systems such as recycling to make new clothes.
We, at BAMBU, believe in the difference bamboo clothing makes to our planet. Let's see why:
a) Bamboo plantations:
- unlike conventional cotton, bamboo grows without pesticides or chemical fertilisers and require almost no irrigation;
- rarely need replanting, growing like a weed from own sprouts;
- grow rapidly and can be harvested in 3-5 years (the fastest growing grass, being able to shoot up a metre or more a day);
- absorb 5 times more carbon and produce 35% more oxygen that an equivalent stand of trees, making them an excellent tool in the battle against greenhouse gases and climate change;
- need half the land cotton needs to produce the same amount of fibre;
- are an excellent soil erosion inhibitor, thanks to their robust root network which is ideal for holding the earth together;
- grow in a wide range of environments;
- one of the easiest plant to harvest and work with - the simplest of handsaws is enough to harvest the mature poles, so there is no need for energy intensive machinery.
We are proud that the raw bamboo used in the production of BAMBU products comes from organically grown and responsibly managed plantations. Here is a detailed list of our suppliers' accredited certifications in this respect and what they mean:
FSC - Forest Stewardship Council
FSC is a certification system that allows the final consumer to recognize products made from raw materials that are supplied from forests managed in an environmentally and socially correct way. In a FSC certified forest, the cut is controlled and does not affect the overall health of the forest itself. This means that the farming and harvesting of our bamboo fibre crops used to produce BAMBU do not contribute to natural habitat loss or destruction.
OCIA - Organic Crop Improvement Association
b) Bamboo manufacturing process:
The bamboo yarn factory that supplies the raw material for our products was established in 1986 in China and is a leading producer and provider of viscose fibers. Since 2002, they produce bamboo fibers 100% made from bamboo through a high-tech process with a registered trade-mark of "tanboocel". Tanboocel is a kind of regenerated cellulose fiber made from bamboo pulp through patented technology.
Relying on its expertise in bamboo fibers industry, the factory continues to grow rapidly with focus on customer needs and product quality through technology, innovation and supply chain development. The company has invested in home textile factory and renovated its yarn mills to produce high quality bamboo fibre products. Equipped with advanced Japan Murata and Italy Savio, etc, the company's apparels plant has passed EU BSCI-2 certification.
The factory operates in conformity with ISO 9001:2000 quality standard, and has passed ISO 14001:2004 Environment Management System attestation and GB/T28001-2001 Occupational Health and Safety assessment.
ISO 9001:2000 Quality Standard
ISO 14001:2004 Environment Management System
ISO 14001 specifies the requirements for an environmental management system that organisations use to reduce their negative environmental impact and contribute to the environmental “pillar of sustainability”. The intended outcome of ISO 14001 are to:
- enhance environmental performance;
- fulfilment of compliance obligations;
- achieve environmental objectives.
c) Bamboo wear:
Tanboocel yarns that serve as basis for our BAMBU products are OEKO-TEX 100 certified, meaning that they are free of harmful chemicals and are safe for human use. This ensures that our products are suitable also for people with sensitive skin and skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis and contact dermatitis.
OEKO-TEX Standard 100
The standard 100 by OEKO-TEX® certificate is the world’s leading ecological mark for textiles. Any textile article bearing the mark has been evaluated and approved by an internationally-renowned institute and assures the consumer that the article is free of harmful substances. An Oeko-Tex 100 certified fibre has been found to contain no trace chemicals that pose any health threat whatsoever. In the test, numerous regulated and non-regulated substances are taken into account, which may be harmful to human health, such as cancer-causing dyestuffs, phthalates, formaldehyde, synthetic compounds and allergy-inducing dyestuffs, and extractable heavy metals. In many cases, the limit values for the Oeko-Tex 100 go beyond national and international requirements.
Another important aspect in our sustainability commitment is the garment’s lifetime. Bamboo is an extremely resilient, elastic and durable fiber. Compared to other materials, like cotton, the bamboo plant and fabric have much longer fibers that are more strongly coupled to one another, resulting in a much more durable cloth, which is less susceptible to wearing and fraying. Moreover, bamboo fabric washes very well at temperatures as low as 30o C. When your bamboo clothing is stronger than your other clothes, you’ll own them for longer, so definitely a good investment and a sustainable choice, as opposed to fast-fashion, where, on average, clothes are worn for less than 1 year.
Moreover, tanboocel fiber is naturally antibacterial and bacteriostatic, fine hygroscopic and permeable, smooth and soft, as well as ultraviolet-proof. According to the Japan Textile Inspection Association, even after fifty times of washing, bamboo fabric still retains excellent anti-bacterial properties.
d) End-of-life decomposition:
As a natural cellulose fiber, bamboo can be completely biodegraded in soil by microorganism and sunshine. The decomposition process doesn't cause any pollution to the environment. Once you have no further use for a bamboo product you can rest easy, knowing that it will return to the earth leaving minimal environmental impact. Plastic, on the other hand, will continue to clog up the ecosystem for the remainder of your lifetime, your children's lifetime and your grandchildren's lifetime. So much better to enjoy a product that has a small environmental footprint and leaves barely a trace.
e) Packaging and shipping:
We created our panda-box with the same basic, minimalist - though not ordinary! - design in mind, and chose to make it from cardboard, the same as our hang-tags, thus remaining faithful to eco-friendly and biodegradable materials.
Our designed packaging is perfect for gifts and can be re-used multiple times.
For shipping orders, we aimed to avoid plastic at any cost, so we use kraft envelopes and paper based AWBs, which, although pose a higher risk during transportation (being more sensitive to friction and moisture), give us the comfort of being friendlier with the environment and having a reduced footprint on the planet.
At BAMBU, we aim to producing high-quality products and focus on sustainable materials and practices so that we have a minimum footprint on our planet and a positive impact on its people. Every product is thoughtfully crafted using organically grown bamboo, sourced from sustainably managed forests.
We are trying very hard to be part of the solution to the textile industry, not part of the problem.