Breaking Bamboo: Sustainable Saviour or Greenwashing Gambit?
We need to talk about bamboo. Often labelled as the “saviour” eco-crop, bamboo can be found as a “sustainable” alternative in a range of products, from t-shirts & toothbrushes to tableware & towels. It’s the darling material for “planet-friendly” clothing, homeware & health brands and can be a very contentious subject for conscious consumers. And of course, a panda’s favourite snack.
Is Bamboo a ‘Saviour’ Plant?
Celebrated as a “super plant”, bamboo is the fastest-growing woody plant in the world and can grow an impressive four feet in one day. So, when it’s harvested it regenerates at superspeed - Superman, eat your heart out! It also absorbs five times more carbon dioxide and produces 35% more oxygen than a similar group of trees.
After reading all these benefits, you can get why it’s lauded as the “world’s most sustainable material”, however there’s more to bamboo material than its origins. From harvesting the raw bamboo to processing and then producing the final product, it ends up being a lot less natural than you think.
The way we grow bamboo poses a problem. As it’s such a popular material to work with, large areas of land are being cleared to plant bamboo to create a ‘monoculture’, this means that all other plant varieties are removed which causes existing ecosystems to decrease in biodiversity and displace existing wildlife who rely on diversity for food & habitats. This is similar to other monocultures causing problems, like avocados in South America or almonds in California.
You’ll often find bamboo in a range of synthetic materials like rayon, lyocell, TENCEL or viscose. And this is where it gets less ‘eco-friendly’, for bamboo to be turned into bamboo viscose it goes through an extraction process using harsh chemicals. As you can imagine, this is incredibly harmful to the environment and affects everything from the air and local wildlife to nearby ecosystems. Definitely not worth it for an expensive t-shirt! Did you know that GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standards) don’t give certification to bamboo textiles?
What About Bamboo Period Products?
The majority of bamboo period products require a chemical soaking process using sodium hydroxide, this process soaks crushed bamboo fibres and then dries them out before the strengthened fibre threads are threaded into yarn. This process is harmful to you and the environment, why expose yourself to harmful chemicals when you don’t need to?
All these chemicals can cause major irritation down under. As skin can react differently to materials in your period care, we can be often faced with pad rash. A nasty affliction that many have experienced due to friction, excessive moisture or not changing the pad frequently enough. It’s important to seek a doctor’s advice about safe treatments for pad rash, but a cold compress and ensuring the area is clean & dry can help. Many find that changing the brand, size or material of period care can help.
What Can I Use Instead of Bamboo?
We use only organic cotton in our biodegradable period care. Why? Here’s a few reasons…
Organic Cotton is Healthy
Organic cotton uses no synthetic fertilisers, harmful pesticides or other dangerous chemicals. Our blog ‘Why Organic Cotton is Good for Your Health’ has even more information.
Organic Cotton is Environmentally-Friendly
As no harmful chemicals are used in any part of the process and as organic cotton is renewable, the soil, the environment, the workers and you are protecting the planet.
Organic Cotton is Naturally Comfortable
The natural fibres are soft to the touch and are wonderfully comfortable without the need for chemical processing.
Organic Cotton Prevents Pad Rashes
We use no additional bleaching or synthetic dyes or perfumes in our organic cotton range, so there’s zero chance of irritation if you have sensitive skin.