BAMBOO & FABRICS FAQs
How does bamboo become a fabric?
Bamboo is such an incredibly soft, breathable and comfortable fabric, it’s hard to imagine it starts out as a bamboo plant. And yet it does, here’s how.
Mature culms or stems are harvested from a bamboo plant. This leaves the roots (and the carbon) in the ground and the plant can continue to grow (this is one of the reasons harvesting bamboo is so good for the planet).
After being cut down into chips, the bamboo is washed, broken down into a pulp and dried. This then goes to the fibre producer who transforms the pulp into a fibre using a chemical process. These fibres are then spun into a yarn which can be knitted or woven into a supersoft fabric.
Find out more about the origins of our bamboo.
Are chemicals used in the growing of bamboo?
Chemicals aren’t needed to grow bamboo. One of the key benefits of bamboo is that it doesn’t need pesticides or fertilizers and only needs natural rainfall to grow. As you’ll know if there’s any bamboo growing in your garden, once it gets going it needs no help at all.
There is some evidence of pesticide use in newly created plantations, especially if they are being planted on degraded land where other crops won’t grow. Pesticide use is usually low and only used at the start.
Merryn, BAM’s sustainability expert, has traced our bamboo right back to the source and visited the bamboo forests of China. See her journey to find the Origins of Our Bamboo.
Are chemicals used in the dying of the fabrics?
We use chemicals to dye and finish our fabric. However not all chemicals are inherently bad. To make a difference to our environment, we need to focus on the ones that are and eliminate the pollution they cause.
We know that if managed and treated responsibly there is no need for chemicals to be damaging to people or the environment. We believe it’s possible to eliminate chemical pollution. And we’ve set ourselves a goal to do so by 2030.
As part of this goal, we will only work with textile manufacturers who use safe chemistry and waste treatment practices and who invest in the technology needed to make things even better. We require our suppliers to use dyehouses which take this responsibility seriously and hold Oek-Tex certificates to confirm no hazardous chemicals are present in the final product.
Where does BAM get its bamboo fabric from?
As part of our commitment to ensuring a positive impact throughout the production of our clothes, we’ve traced our supply chain right the way back to the bamboo forest. So, we can tell you that our bamboo is grown in the Yunan and Sichuan provinces of China.
We’ve visited China and you can read about that in Origins of Our Bamboo. Our bamboo is then transformed into a fibre by two fibre producers, both based in the Hebei province of China. The fibres are then sold onto fabric mills in China or exported to other countries to be made into fabrics.
Are BAM products made with 100% bamboo fibres?
Our goal is to give you supersoft clothing that gives you all the benefits of bamboo – breathable, moisture absorbing and incredibly comfortable. To give you the best performance, we blend bamboo with other fibres – depending on the garment. For a knit we might blend in a responsibly sourced wonderfully soft Merino wool. For our chinos we’ll blend in an organic cotton so that they wear well. We have a beautiful linen and bamboo range which gives you the look of linen with the added benefits of bamboo.
We want our fabrics and your clothes to be durable and to perform properly so where there is no alternative, we do use synthetic fibres. We only use them for these reasons and as part of our zero waste and zero carbon goals we are researching recycled and bio-based alternatives. We’ll introduce these as soon as we can be certain they will perform well and allow us to make clothes to the standard you expect.
Is there any bamboo left for the pandas?
Yes! You’d be surprised how often we’re asked this question. We love how much people care about the pandas.
Bamboo that is grown and harvested for industrial purposes is from plantations or areas of forest that are too close to human populations for wild pandas to live in. Bamboo is the fastest growing grass on the planet, growing about a metre each day and spreading rapidly over large areas, so it’s an abundant crop.
How do I care for my bamboo garments?
Bamboo is really easy to care for in the washing machine (although as you’d expect, our Merino blends are better hand-washed). And as bamboo stays fresher longer, you’ll notice you don’t need to wash it so often.
We advise you check the individual care instructions for our garments as they do vary.
You can make a real impact on your garment’s carbon footprint just by being careful how you wash and recycle your clothes.
We have offset the total carbon footprint for your clothes [see blog] and this includes the impact of washing them 50 times. But if you want to reduce your impact, we suggest:
- Wash Less – Bamboo helps keep clothes fresh for longer
- Wash at lower temps – Unless it’s dirty, wash at 30
- Line dry – Reduce the carbon footprint of your laundry by 75% by not tumble drying
- Don’t throw it! – Repair, re-use and recycle
How do I care for my Merino bamboo knitwear?
Our Merino bamboo blend is delicate, like cashmere. We advise you hand-wash it to avoid it shrinking and snagging. It’s best to dry it flat and store it folded rather than hanging. Pilling is a natural characteristic of fine wool so give it the occasional once over with a pilling comb. Explore our Men’s and Women’s Merino collection.
Do BAM garments shrink if I wash them in the washing machine?
Bamboo viscose is prone to shrink a little, so we work with our suppliers to ensure fabrics are finished to a high standard and that that any shrinkage is within our acceptable limits (meaning it won’t impact the fit of your clothes). The elastane in our fabrics helps to minimise shrinkage too.
Occasionally, when testing a new fabric, we find that it’s shrinking more than we consider acceptable. Rather than rejecting the fabric – which creates unnecessary waste and costs our supplier a lot of money – we’ll cut the garment slightly larger to allow for the shrinkage after you wash it. We’ll always let you know when we’ve done this.
What about UV protection?
If a garment offers UV protection that generally means it is tightly woven or knitted – it doesn’t let the harmful rays through. It’s possible to treat a fabric to make it UV protective but this is not eco-friendly and it tends to wear off after a few washes.
Our heavier weight jersey and sweat fabrics should offer Ultraviolet Protection Factor of 50+ (meaning they block out 98% of harmful UV rays) as they are tightly knitted.
For our medium weight fabrics, we needed to test the fabrics to assess how well they stop the harmful rays reaching your skin. Our 160gsm Air and 200gsm Jersey fabrics have been 3rd party tested for UV protection and they offer an Ultraviolet Protection Factor of 50+ (again, meaning they block out 98% of harmful UV rays).
Our lightest weight fabrics such as our non-stretch jersey and lightweight linen will not provide the same level of UV protection – they are not so tightly woven or knitted – so please do check if you have a specific allergy.
All clothing will provide some protection but if you’re going to be in the sun for long, you should wear a sunscreen.
How much water does it take to make conventional jeans?
When we started looking at the impact of denim, we read reports stating that making conventional jeans used 7600 litres water. However, as we dug a bit deeper into the subject we found that that number included rainfall. A crop using rainfall to grow doesn’t have a detrimental impact. So for transparency and to avoid making things look worse than they are, we decided that for us it made more sense to look at the blue water usage – that is the irrigated water that is being diverted to cotton crops when it could be used for drinking. When we do that we find that conventional jeans need around 2000 litres of water. Whilst that sounds better, it’s still equivalent to over 3 years drinking water. It’s still not acceptable to us. We knew that if we were to make jeans, we’d have to find a way to make them differently. That’s why BAM jeans use 74% less water than conventional jeans.
SUSTAINABILITY & ETHICS FAQs
What is BAM doing to minimise its environmental impact?
David started BAM in 2006 when he discovered that bamboo didn’t just make a supersoft fabric but that it was sustainable too. It’s the fastest growing crop on the planet and absorbs more five times more CO2 than hardwood trees.
Turning bamboo into a fibre however, does have an environmental impact. In fact, every clothing business has a carbon, water, chemical, waste and a land use impact. To change that would mean reimagining how our supply chain works. And that’s what we’re doing. We are on a mission to be Impact Positive. We want every item of clothing you buy from BAM to have a positive impact.
You can read about When carbon neutral isn’t enough. Why BAM is climate positive and also about our Journey to becoming Impact Positive.
Isn't importing from China bad for the environment?
Only 1.4%* of carbon emissions from producing our clothes is generated by transport from China. It’s surprisingly small.
To put that in context, washing our clothes contributes 14.8%* of the carbon emissions of clothing throughout its life cycle.
We’ve looked at all the emissions generated throughout our product life cycle from the moment the bamboo leaves the soil right through to laundry and recycling. This means we can plan how we reduce those emissions.
What this has clearly highlighted is that using a sustainable crop like bamboo far outweighs the impact of importing it.
*Based on BAM’s measurement of our total footprint in 2019
You are climate positive and say you’ve offset me washing my clothes 50 times. How did you calculate that?
We are climate positive which means we haven’t just offset the carbon emissions for our business but for every process involved in the lifecycle of our clothes. This means covering the emissions from bamboo farming and fibre production and also the impact of you, our customer laundering your clothes 50 times.
We worked with Simon Brown from the Positive Momentum Business Consultancy to work out our calculation. Simon is a leading expert in measuring and reducing environmental impacts and this is how we worked out how to offset you washing your BAM clothes:
- A 5kg load of laundry has a footprint of 0.6kgCO2e (washed at 30 degrees and line dried)
- We produced 2000kg of garments in 2019, so 400 x 5kg loads of laundry.
- At 50 washes over the lifetime of our clothes, that would be 20k loads of laundry.
- The footprint of a 5kg load of laundry is 0.6kgCO2e. So for 20,000 kgs, it’s 12,000kgCO2e
- And converting that to tonnes gives us 1200tCO2e.
And that’s what we offset.
What are BAM's employment ethics?
We’re a people business. We believe that when we work collaboratively with our partners and suppliers, we all benefit. When we succeed, they do to. And vice versa.
We believe it’s possible to be commercially successful and environmentally sustainable. Throughout our supply chain we’re committed to fair treatment for every person involved in making BAM clothes – from the bamboo growers to our UK team.
How can we make that commitment for our suppliers? Firstly, we only work with suppliers who are 3rd party audited. But we don’t rely solely on this form of verification. We’ve found that through regular communication and contact we can ensure that our suppliers are paying their staff above the national minimum wage and offering good working conditions.
Is all of BAM's package sustainable?
Yes, all our packaging is sustainable.
Our garment bags have been biodegradeable since 2015 and by AW20 they will all be compostable.
We have removed all plastic from all of our packaging. Our mailer bags & underwear bags are made from fully recyclable Kraft paper. Our socks packaging is card and we have swapped the little plastic kimbles for thread stitches to secure the sock packaging.
One of our goals it to be zero waste to landfill by 2030. We are constantly adapting our packaging to use the latest, most sustainable option and this means you might get different bags for different orders.
How should I dispose of my BAM garment bags?
From AW20 all of our garment bags will be compostable. Due to availability of the raw material in Turkey and China, most of them are only compostable in an industrial compost facility, meaning they will need to go in with food waste which gets collected by a council rather than going into a home compost.
We do have some bags which are suitable for a home compost – these are clearly labelled on the bag. We’ll continue switching to home compostable bags wherever we can.
If you don’t have a food waste bin which gets collected by the council, you should put compostable bags into the normal waste bin, they are not recyclable. We know this is not ideal as organic matter breaking down in landfill still releases Greenhouse gases such as methane, however, unlike a plastic bag a compostable bag will break down in a landfill. We hope more and more councils will start to offer food waste collections in the near future.
Can I recycle my BAM sock packaging?
Our socks packaging is card and fully recyclable. Carefully remove the thread stitch with scissors to avoid damaging the sock.
Is your Merino wool ethical?
We only use sustainably sourced ethical Merino wool and ours is sourced in Australia from an RWS (Responsible Wool Standard) certified farm.
This certification ensures that sheep are treated with respect to their Five Freedoms. It also ensures best practices in the management and protection of the land. Finally, certification ensures that wool from certified farms is properly identified and tracked.
Read more about the RWS
Are BAM products vegan?
BAM is a not a certified vegan brand. The majority of our range is made without animal products but some of our knits include Merino wool and would not be classed as vegan.
Certain dyes contain animal derived ingredients. Increasingly though the dyehouses are switching to synthetic alternatives. Whilst this is good news, we’re aware that some synthetic alternatives can have other detrimental effects on the environment.
We constantly monitor our options to ensure we use the most animal and planet friendly. We are building up a full inventory of every single chemical used in our whole supply chain so we can ensure we use the lowest impact chemicals for our products.
Can I buy BAM Clothing in any shops?
We don’t have any of our own shops. However there are a few independent retailers in the UK and Europe that we have started working with, mainly selling socks, and mostly online.
Do you deliver outside of UK?
Yes, we do! Please take a look at our Delivery Information for further information.
Why is my country not showing for delivery or for creating an account?
Unfortunately we are unable to create a standard delivery charge for every location in the world, if your country is not listed then you can still place and order by calling +44 (0)1752 581 458 and our team can discuss your delivery options.
How can I update my contact preferences?
Your contact preferences can be updated by logging in to your account where you will see the 3 main check boxes relating to email, catalogue and 3rd party preferences.
Edit these and make sure to press the “Save Changes” button.
Please note: that it can take up to 7 days for the change to come fully into effect.
Please also note: that if you change the email settings then you will still receive emails relating to any outstanding orders.
Do you offer a NHS or other Services discounts?
Yes, BAM would like to thank our UK services and have provided a incentive through the Blue Light Card, for the NHS, Police, Fire, British Armed forces and many more superb services helping across the country. Just visit https://www.bluelightcard.co.uk, login and search for BAM Bamboo Clothing
How do I return a garment?
Every order includes a dispatch note with a returns form on the reverse, not forgetting the free postage label to attach to your return. If you have misplaced or need another returns label, you can create one here via the Royal Mail website. Please note that the free delivery only applies to the UK. If you are returning an order internationally, you will have to pay for the postage.
As soon as we process your parcel we aim to dispatch any exchanges the same day.
How do I exchange my garment for a bigger/smaller size?
Every order includes a dispatch note with a returns form on the reverse, not forgetting the free postage label to attach to your return. If you have misplaced or need another returns label, you can create one here via the Royal Mail website.
As soon as we receive your exchange we aim to process & dispatch same day.
Where is my order?
FOR UK MAINLAND DELIVERIES:
IF YOU ORDERED ON
YOU WILL RECEIVE BY
If you have an online account with us you can log in and see the status of your order anytime. If you havn’t received your order within 4 working days please contact us. See here for international orders.
Gifting to Multiple Addresses
Currently you can choose to deliver to a different address when you place an order and add our gift wrap solution at the basket. A new order would need to be made for each different address.
This process can be sped up if you have an account where your billing address details can be stored and additional delivery addresses managed.
Please note: One gift wrap box per delivery address would be required. A personalised gift message can be added at the checkout.