Many years ago, I used to run a live show online called Sustainability in the Modern World. Over the years of running the show, I had the great opportunity to speak with sustainability and eco-living brands from all walks of life. There was much I learned over the years of running the show and my good friend and co-host Wayne Meador shared with me the truth about bamboo clothing, I was shocked. Today within this article, I am going to share this with you whilst comparing hemp and bamboo as a sustainable fabric for clothing.
It is widely known that bamboo is one of the fastest growing plants in the world along with hemp, this in itself proves it’s efficacy for sustainability. It has been used for years for as a building material, for furniture, accessories and even for clothing… its much like hemp when it comes to its myriad of uses. Though is it truly a sustainable material when it comes to clothing? Many people will believe otherwise and it all comes down to the production process…
Bamboo Clothing Production Process
There are two processes for producing bamboo clothing; the first one is known as viscose, where as the second process uses a natural and mechanical process. The Viscose Process is a chemical process where bamboo is broken down using a sodium hydroxide solution together with other harsh chemicals. Once broken down, the fibres are then spun into yarn to create the fabric. The video below describes the process in more detail:
Not only is this not sustainable, the chemicals may also irritate the skin and could be harmful to the body. The majority of bamboo clothing available on the market today uses this viscose process to produce clothing. Personally, I find this worrying with all the chemicals involved.
The Mechanical Process on the other had is far more costly and time consuming than the viscose process. This makes it a less favourable as the majority of large corporations focus on profit and their bottom line.
As technology advances, the process will become more viable and cost effective. For now, it is important to know the process of producing bamboo clothing as you ask yourself: Is this something I want to wear?
Note: Some companies will use the mechanical and sustainable process, so it is always good to know what you are buying.
Production Process for Hemp Clothing
At the end of 2017, I interviewed THTC Clothing (The Hemp Trading Company) to speak about the process producing hemp clothing. You can see our recent podcast with them at: https://www.optimal-hemp.com/hemp-clothing-and-eco-fashion-redefined-with-thtc/
The production process for Hemp is much different to than using bamboo as a fabric and the great news is that there are no harmful chemicals involved. It begins by chopping up the hemp stalks, to then allowing them to dry. Once this is done, a process called “Retting” is used, this is where the stalks are turned every seven days for 14 to 21 days to allow the fibres to separate from the woody stems. As soon as this process is complete, the fibres can be spun on a spinning machine to create a long continuous strand of yarn. They hemp yarn is then ready to be woven into a fabric.
This processes, much like the mechanical process of producing bamboo clothing is slightly more costly and time consuming. Hemp clothing though is much stronger and durable than cotton or other fabric, the t-shirts last for years! Its also important to note that hemp requires half the amount of water
whilst being a viable clothing solution for sustainability. I would recommend visiting THTC clothing at: https://shop.thtc.co.uk for a range of hemp t-shirts that will last a lifetime.
Hemp clothing is becoming more widely available everyday with more people looking to become conscious consumers as we work towards a more sustainable world. We hope you have found this article useful, if you have any questions, be sure to leave them in the comments below…