Intrigued about bamboo underwear? Me too. Today’s style post sadly does not have me modelling… those photos just wouldn’t stand up to Rosie Huntington-Whitely’s lingerie pics and I couldn’t be doing with that!
However, today’s post does cover the interesting topic of bamboo clothing. Is it or isn’t it a sustainable option? Can it be organic? And what about the workers? Let’s find out…
Bamboo Underwear: The Facts
I was kindly gifted a Shaper Bra* and Hipster Bikini* by Boody, an eco-wear brand that specialises in bamboo clothing. Having already heard a little bit about bamboo clothes (and having bought my boyfriend some bamboo yoga trousers for Christmas last year), I wanted to know what the deal was, and also just how comfy the clothes really are…
How Eco Is Bamboo Fabric?
When I first received my undies, I wasn’t sure that bamboo was totally green. Bamboo is a type of grass, and grows incredibly quickly, as well as in a number of different environments. This speed and its grass-like durability means that it can be harvested and regrown again and again, without damaging the soil or surrounding environment. So, so far, so good, especially as cotton slowly drains the nutrients in the soil it grows in.
And while the most part of bamboo is not certified organic, it is grown organically. Bamboo needs no type of pesticides or fertilisers to grow (which is actually true of most crops too, but would increase poor harvests), and it does this by creating an antimicrobial substance that naturally fights against pests and fungi. Boody is one place where they state that their bamboo is organic, which is great.
What Is The Fabrication Process Like?
However, what isn’t so great is the treatment it goes through to get to a soft fabric – the process may use a lot less water than cotton or denim, but it does use a lot of chemicals, and essentially ends up being rayon. Having worn my Boody underwear a few times now, I can attest to its likeness to cotton – the fibre is breathable and comfortable, but it does make me feel a little anxious knowing I have rayon up against my skin.
The reason rayon is so bad is that it takes natural products such as bamboo and spins them in a highly chemical solution to create a soft fibre. Sadly this solution has been linked to human reproduction problems, and is a problem for workers who are exposed to it every day, as well as the water systems it drains into. According to Ecouterre, only 50% of the solution is treated properly, meaning 50% is dumped improperly.
The Differing Treatments of Bamboo
What is good news is that there are processes to treat bamboo differently. Instead of creating rayon, it can follow the same processes as lyocell, an organic fibre taken from eucalyptus trees that is treated in a non-toxic solvent. It creates a fabric which is and leaves very little waste product. For the time-being though, it’s not in these undies!
When speaking to Boody, they did tell me their treatment process uses sodium hydroxide, which they do not consider a harsh chemical and therefore are more sustainable than most. EWG’s Skindeep database says the chemical can cause irritation and organ system toxicity, rating it 4/10. Either way, it would be great to see them using a less rayon and more lyocell fibre in the future.
Final Thoughts: Bamboo Underwear Is Green But Flat…
One other downside, if I can be frank, is that the shaper bra makes me look a little flat-chested. I don’t have much against that look, and enjoy emulating an androgynous vibe every now and again, but I don’t think many smaller girls want to lose what little assets they do have!