Bamboo Fabric: is it sustainable?

In the past year we notice some brands claiming that they produce organic clothing out of bamboo fabric. It is supposed to be a brand new material that is softer, eco friendly and ethical. However, the sustainability of bamboo clothing is now argued. Read our article now to avoid being mislead by the alleged sustainable fashion brands and to learn more about sustainable materials.

What is bamboo fabric?


The bamboo fabric is a material that is made out bamboo.This plant loved by the panda bears (as you probably know) is also supposed to make the most renewable fabric. Indeed, it is naturally resistant, grows fast and is great for the soil. Therefor, farmers do not necessarily need chemicals to cultivate it. The plant is then used to make the bamboo fabric you know. So far it does sound like bamboo material could be sustainable, correct? Let’s review it further.

Is bamboo fabric sustainable?

To know if your bamboo top is made from sustainable materials, there are 2 factors to consider: the bamboo crop and the manufacturing of the bamboo fabric itself.

The bamboo crop

As explained above, bamboo can be grown without chemicals and can be good for the soil. However, it does not mean that it is what happened. The more bamboo fabric is claimed to be eco friendly, the more it gets popular and all this trend tend to encourage the farmers to produce massively by all means. They can use chemicals to grow faster. If you think about it, almost no bamboo clothing is certified organic so we believe that it is a first clue that it is not as good as it seems.

Another point is that most of the bamboo fabric is made in China and unfortunately, this country is absolutely not transparent in terms of production. Manufacturers there are well known for being not very ethical.

Finally, as a consequence of the popularity of the bamboo material, the farmers try to increase the production resulting in a mono-crop. This is a disaster for the biodiversity and cannot be called sustainable at all.

The bamboo fabric manufacturing process

Let’s say that a producer decides to cultivate bamboo naturally, without chemicals and without destroying any other crop, the bamboo would be organic. However, a second fact to consider is the manufacturing process of the bamboo fiber. Concretely, “how the panda food becomes bamboo fabric”. There are 2 ways, one is mechanical and the other is… chemical.

The first way consists of crushing the plant, using natural enzyme to break it down and combining out the fibres. This way is sustainable but labour intensive and expensive so the garment is a bit expensive. Besides it looks like linen which is far from the soft material that make your bamboo clothing and that you love so much. So unfortunately, even if this bamboo fabric is sustainable, it is not the popular one.

The second way is the viscose process that produces the soft bamboo rayon (or viscose bamboo) that people commonly know. This method implies cooking the plant in a mix of chemicals. “About 50% of hazardous waste from rayon production (including the bamboo variety) cannot be recaptured and reused and goes directly into the environment.” according to Good On You. From there it seems like bamboo fabric is not amongst the top sustainable materials and that we should find other alternatives.

Sustainable materials Alternative

As explained bamboo fabric may not be one of the best sustainable materials but do not despair, there is an alternative: the Lyocell. Lyocell is a closed-looped manufacturing process that reuses 99% of the chemical solution it needs to make any fabric. Then you can find bamboo lyocell or cotton lyocell (even though lyocell bamboo is the most popular to combine all the sustainable aspects).

We hope that you have a clear mind on what is bamboo fabric. To make it short, the way to know if a bamboo clothing is sustainable is to look at the label and to ask yourself how it is produced and where is it made. If the panty you look at is made from lyocell bamboo, go for it. Otherwise we would advise to avoid it. Have a look at our sustainable fashion brands page if you need ideas on where to find ethical and eco friendly clothing. You can also shop in our natural store!

Let’s be greener together


Attitude Organic