If you’ve ever felt fabric made with bamboo, you will instantly understand why it is used in baby clothing. Not only does it feel super soft and luxurious, it is also breathable, has high wicking properties and a natural stretch which gives added comfort. Bamboo in baby clothing is often combined with cotton. This combination uses the qualities of these natural fibres to create a fabric suitable for baby clothes. Bamboo fibre used on its own is very fine and produces very soft, but thin fabric. The combination of bamboo and cotton fibres, creates a super soft, yet durable fabric, like those found in the baby clothes made by Mori.
Bamboo as a sustainable fibre
Another attractive quality of bamboo is that it is a fibre that is easy to grow, without the use of pesticides and fertilisers. Self regenerating from its own roots, it doesn’t need to be replanted. Growing bamboo ticks a lot of the boxes we look for in sustainable fibres. It has even been promoted as having anti bacterial and anti UV properties.
From Bamboo in the field to fabric
While bamboo growing is sustainable, the transformation into fabric is often not environmentally friendly. There are three main types of bamboo fabric: bamboo viscose, mechanically produced bamboo and lyocell-type bamboo. If you didn’t know this, you probably never thought about what type of bamboo is used in baby clothes. Claiming bamboo clothing as sustainable can be a form of greenwashing. It’s important to be aware of the type of bamboo used in the clothes you are buying, as the fibre production process can outweigh the sustainable advantages of growing bamboo.
Types of bamboo fabric
Bamboo viscose is the traditional and most common bamboo yarn used in fabric produced worldwide. It is the cheapest production method but unfortunately the most harmful to the environment due to the chemicals used.
The process involves dissolving bamboo cellulose, in a chemical solution to produce a pulpy viscous substance. Cellulose is the insoluble material making up the plant cell walls. This substance is pushed through a spinneret and spun into fibres to be made into yarns and fabrics.
The chemicals (eg carbon disulfide) used in the process are toxic and hazardous to human health for the workers producing the fibre. If the manufacturing factory lacks pollution controls these toxic chemicals can escape into the surrounding environment through air vents and inadequate waste water disposal systems. About 50% of hazardous waste from the bamboo viscose process cannot be recaptured or reused. It goes directly into the environment. The intensity of this process makes the antibacterial properties present in the raw material unlikely to be found in the final fabric.
Mechanically produced bamboo is an environmentally friendly production method which doesn’t extract the cellulose. A natural enzyme is added to crushed bamboo wood fibres before they are washed and spun into yarn. The resulting yarn often has a silky texture and sometimes called bamboo linen. Because it is more costly this method is not widely used.
A more cost effective and low environmental impact method is the lyocell-type bamboo, which uses a closed loop system. Unlike the bamboo viscose method the lyocell-type production doesn’t alter the structure of the cellulose. The chemicals are non toxic and the solvents reused again and again, avoiding air and water pollution and significantly reducing its impact on the environment.
Bamboo in baby clothing
When sourcing baby clothes Qookeee looks at each brands sustainable credentials. This includes asking how they source their fabrics, and relevant certifications associated with the fabrics they use. Our bamboo and organic cotton baby clothes are from Mori. Made from their signature fabric which is a mix of 70% viscose bamboo* and 30% organic cotton. The bamboo used is the lyocell-type bamboo source and the organic cotton is verified by the Organic Content Standard (OCS) certification.
Bamboo and organic cotton baby clothes available to rent from Qookeee include super soft baby bodysuits, sleepsuits, snug suits, reversible baby coats, sleep bags, pyjamas, dresses and cardigans.
Note: *Viscose bamboo is the required labelling for bamboo in clothing products. It does not make a distinction between the different production methods.