Sustainability Research Point


Bamboo has only fairly recently started to be used as a textile fibre. The process of turning bamboo into a fibre was patented by a Chinese manufacturer in 2003.

Bamboo is considered a sustainable fibre for several reasons:

It grows very quickly in areas where other crops wouldn’t grow. When bamboo is harvested it grows back without replanting.
Bamboo needs very little looking after, it doesn’t require fertiliser or pesticides.
Every part of the bamboo plant can be used, so there is no waste. Bamboo can be used for food, as utensils, as a building material and now clothing.
Bamboo is incredibly good at carbon sequestration ie turning carbon into oxygen, helping to clean our air of pollutants.

Although the manufacturing process includes sodium hydroxide, which is a toxic chemical. But this is neutralised with an acidic bath and turned into a non toxic sodium sulphate salt.


Hemp is durable fibres as well as being sustainable. It requires no pesticides and needs very little water, but it also helps to replenish the soil it grows in. Hemp grows very happily in most temperate areas.

It is Strong as well as being lightweight and absorbent.
Hemp is perfect for wearing outdoors it is UV and mold-resistant.
Hemp is cheap to produce as it requires very little input.
Hemp farming uses very little water, does not require the use of chemical pesticides or fertilizers, and is a readily renewable resource.
The fiber from hemp can make many products – including jeans, shirts, dresses, hats, bags, ropes and canvas, paper and many food products. Until the 1920’s, 80% of clothing was made from hemp textiles.
Nothing is wasted during production each part of the plant is used.
It is possible to produce more fiber per acre than trees, and can be renewed two to three times per year.

It has historically been impossible to produce a hemp fibre that is white like cotton so it has traditionally been blended with cotton. Cotton production however is for more environmentally damaging. To counteract this a new patented enzyme process has been developed that transforms hemp into white product, called Crailar.

Hemp as a textile product has, in the 20th century, fallen in production because of misinformation of the plant being used as a recreational drug. The hemp plant used for textile production is not useful for this purpose.

Design for Disassembly

Design for Disassembly means that the end of a products life is considered whilst in the initial stages of design. Carefully making sure that each separate element that can be recycled or repurposed can be easily separated with minimal extra processes or damaging chemicals.

Implications of combining different fibres

Could be potentially difficult to separate at a later date.
By combining recycled fibres with new fibres you could reduce the amount of new fibre production whilst reusing what we already have.
By combining locally grown and produced fibres with others you would reduce the air miles of the end product significantly.
Combining the beneficial features of each fibre for example strength from nylon with the warmth and durability of wool. Potentially prolongs the life of the product whilst making it warmer, therefore reducing energy.