Why we're changing to organic cotton muslins from bamboo
We've always been proud of our manufacturing process, having taken years to source the best factories and fabrics for our range, however running a business is a constant learning curve and the more I've read, discussed and researched the environmental impact of bamboo (viscose) vs. organic cotton the more i've wanted to make the switch here at Etta Loves.
The most important point to make is that the most eco-friendly thing you can do is hold on to things for a longer time and then either repurpose or recycle. But alongside what we can do once we actually own a product, it's important that we all understand the environmental impact that the growing and production of the fabrics we buy have on our planet.
Organic cotton is grown using no synthetic agricultural fertilisers or pesticides and no chemicals are used to turn the cotton plant into fibre, meaning it’s a great deal more environmentally friendly than both conventional cotton and bamboo. It is recyclable or can be repurposed for a multitude of uses around the home. The biggest environmental impact of cotton is the water needed for the plant to grow, but organic cotton uses 91 per cent less water than regular cotton and produces fewer greenhouse gas emissions.
Bamboo is a highly sustainable plant, frequently proclaimed as the world's most renewable material: it's naturally pest-resistant, grows incredibly fast and can actually help rebuild eroded soil however where it falls behind is in the production of the fabric itself. If you've bought one of our bamboo muslins you'll have noticed we label them as "viscose from bamboo" as viscose is the fabric, whereas bamboo is the raw material, and whilst bamboo is a fantasticaly renewable material, and one that is beautifully silky soft, the process of making the plant into fibre requires a few too many chemicals than we would like.
Without going into too much detail the bamboo plants have to be cooked in a cocktail of chemical solvents - primarily sodium hydroxide (or caustic soda, as it's more commonly known) and carbon disulfide. Both are known to be harmful to human health, and sodium hydroxide can harm aquatic life when released into the water supply. Obviously we are talking minimal amounts for the quantites that a brand like Etta Loves produces (and these chemicals are NOT present in the final product). Our factory is audited regularly to ensure that their practices when it comes to disposing of the residual chemicals are as harmless as they can be, however as a brand we strive to be as sustainable as we possibly can so it's time for us to say goodbye to bamboo.
Don't let this put you off bamboo in it's entirety, as bamboo products that are non woven - such as bamboo bowls, furniture etc are wonderfully sustainable with far less chemical production processes.
I hope this has shed some light onto one of the biggest choices I've made as a small business, and I can't wait to hear what you think about our new fabrication. I was blown away by how sumptuously soft our organic cotton muslin is, and I hope you love it too.
Read more about cotton vs bamboo here:
This was very well written and very informative. This has definitely helped me to make better choices for my baby. Thank you :)
Thank you for sharing this information, really interesting and useful. I always wonder about the processes that materials go through to arrive at the end-product – it’s never a simple as people would like to believe and compromises always have to be made. I am about to place an order for my new grandchild :-)