For someone with such a keen interest in sustainable fashion, it sprouts an astounding amount of anxiety within me. At times, the subject matter feels too big, too scary, and impossible to satisfy perfectly. I get caught in a cycle of thinking, “no matter how hard we try, it is one step forward, two steps back”.
TEXT: HANNAH COLE
At its core, sustainability is entirely subjective. As consumers, the onus lies with us; we have to make the final choice. Do you warrant the natural environment above human health? Are the lives of animals more vital than rotting pits of landfill? We weigh up the pros and cons of every purchase because, let’s face it, fashion may never be deemed wholly sustainable. Until we close all the loops and limit our purchasing, it seems a far-off dream.
But that’s not to say we can’t do our best in the current climate. With the current state of the world, we are looking to minimise the impact of our wardrobes more than ever. As a result, I’ve been spending more time researching ways to make wiser choices and avoid the greenwashing that has become synonymous with the industry.
With all that being said, I’ve been living a partial lie. For years, I have deemed any fabric sourced from the natural world as inherently more sustainable than its chemical counterparts. Then I found a glaring hole in my theory: is bamboo really as good as it’s made out to be?
On the surface, it sounds like the wunderkind we’ve been seeking. Bamboo is fast-growing, requires no fertiliser, uses significantly less water than cotton and also self-regenerates — nature’s magic. I liked to picture the free-spirited children of my potential future frolicking by the seaside, robed in bamboo jumpsuits and twin sets.
It seems to be but a dream, though. Unlike other natural fibres — namely hemp and organic cotton — bamboo requires intense chemical processing to achieve the feel and look we seek. Most of the current bamboo offerings transform the once-natural fibre and place it somewhere in-between through this process, rendering it neither wholly natural or synthetic. Ultimately, this process is most problematic for the workers handling highly toxic chemicals, and the surrounding environment, as this waste isn’t recaptured or reused.
For all the doom and gloom, I still hold a glimmer of hope for the future of bamboo. Sustainability comes down to looking at things in a new way and building more eco processes.
Bamboo lyocell satisfies all our silky dreams — and manages to do it while inching towards a closed-loop system. Locally, sleepwear and linen label Ettitude has mastered its use. Their unique CleanBamboo™ fabrication doesn’t use any toxic chemicals and saves 98 per cent of water for reuse. With all bamboo sourced from FSC-certified sustainable forests, Ettitude offers us a way to truly sleep sound at night (and eradicate at least some of my anxiety dreams).
Bamboo has quickly made its mark in the lingerie realm, but not all are created equally. HARA’s Allie Cameron actively chose bamboo for its positive pesticide and water factors. While acknowledging bamboo’s pitfalls, the label dedicates itself to initiating a closed-loop process using only non-toxic solvents, to protect human and environmental health. As with Ettitude, all bamboo is sourced from organic suppliers.
Bamboo: it’s not perfect, but it’s getting there. It takes some digging, and I may still clam up every once in a while, but the initial steps are being taken. There are a handful of labels leading the way. To boost your eco-conscience, look for proof of certification, guzzle up all the information you can find about a brand’s fabrication choice and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Just saying that a natural fibre is present isn’t enough anymore; we’ve become the enlightened.