Bamboo, not as natural as we thought...
25 February 2019 • Steeze Team • Sustainable Materials Matter
"The short answer is no. Bamboo in and of itself might just be slightly more eco-friendly, naturally, than cotton; however, the amount of chemical processing that bamboo requires to turn it into a product completely nullifies any advantage it may have had."
Bamboo is one of the hottest materials right now in the clothing industry. It is capable of growing up to four-feet in a day, making it seem better to produce and use for clothing products. People all over the place are committed to this new trend because of its softness while also claiming to be very eco-friendly. Some people are even going as far to claim that bamboo fabric is going to replace cotton in our everyday clothing. Is this true? We don’t think so. First, let’s check out the benefits of using bamboo materials and then we will look at the underlying reasons why we don’t think bamboo fabric will last.
Benefits of Using Bamboo Material
There are a plethora of benefits associated with using bamboo fabric when creating bamboo t-shirts, bamboo hoodies or any bamboo clothing for that matter. The first benefit of using a bamboo fabric is that it is an antibacterial and odor-free material, which also makes it highly sweat absorbent. Even though bamboo is antibacterial it is also one of the best natural insulators, while being one of the softest known materials on the planet. For the consumer, bamboo might just seem like the perfect product. Why even bother with cotton or anything else?
Is Bamboo More Eco-Friendly than Cotton?
The short answer is no. Bamboo in and of itself might just be slightly more eco-friendly, naturally, than cotton; however, the amount of chemical processing that bamboo requires to turn it into a product completely nullifies any advantage it may have had. Rayon is a regenerated cellulose fiber. All that means is that through chemical processing, a natural and raw material is converted to a fiber that then becomes something in between a natural and synthetic material, leaning more towards the synthetic side. This is what happens with bamboo; it provides the natural cellulose base, but is then converted to a synthetic material through chemical processing essentially making it no better than cotton for our environment. Surprise.
The Viscose Rayon Process, also called hydrolysis alkalization, is the most common process used to turn bamboo into fabric. The bamboo is dissolved in a chemical solvent then is spun through a spinneret and finished in a quenching solution made up of carbon disulfide, which is a known toxic chemical that causes reproductive hazards in both men and women. Carbon disulfide has also been linked with fatigue, headaches, nausea, blurred vision, delirium, and nerve damage for those who work in rayon manufacturing plants. Other toxic chemicals used in the creation of rayon from bamboo include sodium hydroxide and sulfuric acid. After being treated with this toxic solution, the once natural cellulose material begins to harden into a chemical fiber. As you can quickly see, bamboo is actually just has harmful to the environment as cotton. (Source)
So since bamboo and cotton are both dangerous for the environment and one is really no better than the other, what is the solution? Hemp.
There’s a broader conversation now with a company like Patagonia that uses petroleum products and then plants their principled flag in the ground
Steve Everly, Texans for Natural Gas
Natural Hemp Clothing
Here at Steeze, we take great pride in providing a product that no one has ever seen before: an outerwear brand committed to incorporating a percentage of the best natural materials like Hemp into our products. To be honest, our brand has taken on the form of many identities in the last two years, but we’ve always strived to be consistent in telling and selling the truth. Selling the truth? Yes. Sadly, it is an abstract concept in the society we live in to embrace and seek the truth, as hiding the truth seems to be a preferred method of business if it keeps the businesses pockets lined. Unfortunately, the truth is many outerwear companies have branded themselves as eco-friendly, environmentally conscious, and a plethora of other eco-positive words. To those well researched, you will know 85% of the debris washing up on the ocean shores are from man-made synthetic micro-fibers from these kind of “eco-friendly” companies. (Educate yourself on synthetic materials harmful ocean impacts)
The same thing many of the large corporations fight against is an essential need to keep their inventory full and pockets lined. Now, is it realistic to expect all clothing companies to incorporate natural materials into their product lines? No, but the problem is the deception of millions of people in the United States and across the world who have unknowingly bought into the thinking that all outerwear companies are environmentally aware and conscious.
Patagonia has been one of the most outspoken critics on fracking and oil drilling in the US. This ends up being quite a hypocritical statement considering at least three quarters of their product-line is constructed from synthetic, petroleum-based materials. The truth is Patagonia has blatantly played their customers, employees, and even confused themselves into thinking their brand is the pinnacle of environmentally conscious clothing. While we are sure most outerwear companies stand behind their initiatives full heartedly and do believe in what they are fighting for, a critical mistake has been made and their fall is only a matter of time. (Don't believe the lies)