Is it really true that what we choose to wear can improve the quality of the air that we breathe?
If we look at the impact the clothing industry has on biodiversity, and the difference of growing some fabric crops over others, the answer is a clear yes.
The term biodiversity describes the total variety of living things on this planet. This huge interconnected network of eight million plants, animals and people rely on one another to keep ecosystems working in harmony. It creates the oxygen we breathe and the food we eat.
And our everyday choices have an impact, even including the clothes that we wear.
How the clothes we wear impact biodiversity
The fashion industry is set to use 115 million more hectares for crops by 2030. That’s an increase in land use five times the size of Britain in the next ten years.
That spread of agriculture means a loss of habitat for many of the planet’s species. Biodiversity relies on healthy soil. But pesticide use along with harvesting and replanting crops like cotton each year damages that soil health. We’ve already witnessed the devastating effect pesticides have had on the bee population and the surrounding ecosystems.
The production of fibres, fabrics and garments requires industrial processes that use a lot of energy and water which if not controlled and treated correctly create pollution and damaging emissions.
And then there’s the packaging. Single use, non-recyclable, plastic packaging often ends up in landfills or oceans where it can take hundreds of years to break down.
Even our laundry has an impact. We all need to wash our clothes. But when we do, we’re releasing hundreds of thousands of micro-fibres, often made from plastic, into oceans with each wash.
And finally, there’s how we get rid of our old clothes. 73% of clothing ends up in landfill or incinerated. Incineration releases harmful greenhouse gases into the air. If they degrade in landfill, harmful toxins – especially from anything plastic – are released.
We need to wear clothes and we need to wash them. But what we wear, how we wash it and how we dispose of it can make a significant difference.
How does choosing bamboo improve biodiversity?
Firstly, pesticides. Quite simply, bamboo doesn’t need any.
Secondly, soil health. Bamboo can be harvested without uprooting the whole plant. The roots stay alive, growing in the ground so the soil health, the surrounding habitat and the biodiversity they support are protected
Thirdly, land mass. Bamboo takes 50% less land than cotton to produce the same amount of fibre. Maybe we don’t need to increase clothing agriculture’s land use by five times the size of Britain.
Fourth, laundry. Bamboo simply doesn’t need washing as often because it doesn’t get smelly. Washing our clothes every other wear would cut the impact of our laundry in half.
These are just some of the reasons we’re passionate about bamboo and recognise, in the words of Dr. Hans Friederic, Director of the International Network for Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR) that
It’s also why we’re committed to learning the lessons from palm oil which you can read about in our blog Keeping a good thing a good thing. The lessons from palm oil.
Bamboo is a crop that is good for biodiversity and protects the planet’s species from the spread of agriculture that threatens it. And that helps us breathe easier.