Through our research, we discovered that the fashion industry is literally the top polluting industry in the world. When it comes to the trash in landfills, it is not big oil companies or coal mines that are making the most impact, it’s our clothing. Not only is clothing production harmful to our planet, but the process also kills thousands of farmers and producers each year due to chemicals and waste. It is crucial that consumers pledge to choose products with a low carbon dioxide footprint. You underwear should not be the exception.
Cotton production heavily pollutes runoff waters and evaporation waters with the harmful chemicals that go into rivers. If you are going to choose cotton, choose organic.
Cotton needs A LOT of water to grow but is usually cultivated in warm and dry areas. This has had dramatic ecological consequences such as the desertification of the Aral Sea. There, cotton production has turned an entire sea into a desert. Up to 20,000 liters of water are needed to produce just 1kg of cotton, while bamboo cultivation (as well as manufacturing) uses only 2000 liters to produce 1kg of bamboo fiber.
When washing synthetic fibers such as nylon, polyester, etc., little pieces of plastic are released into the wastewater. These plastic microfibers make their way into the oceans. Scientists have discovered that small aquatic organisms ingest those microfibers. The small plastic microfibers then make their way into our food through the food chain because everything on our planet is connected.
Waste management and landfills:
An average family in Europe throws away about 30 kg of clothing each year, a very small part of which is recycled or donated. The plastic fibers make their way into the wastewater once again and contribute to introducing plastic into the food chain. They are also non-biodegradable, which contribute to waste accumulation and toxic build up.
Greenhouse Gas Emissions:
The fashion industry is responsible for about 10% of global greenhouse emissions. This accounts for the energy used during its production, manufacturing, and transportation. Clothing that is produced using synthetic fibers is actually made of plastic which is made from fossil fuels. The synthetic fabric overall is more energy-intensive than natural fabric. Even though cotton is considered natural, the mass cultivation of it is still not low carbon dioxide. Ultimately, production of synthetic fabrics becomes much more energy-intensive than with natural fibers.
Erosion and soil degradation:
Soil is not only the foundation of a healthy ecosystem, but it also sequesters carbon. This means that healthy topsoil actually works to combat climate change! Did you know that? Healthy soil absorbs CO2 from the air because the billions of microorganisms that live in it capture it and lock it into organic matter. We commonly know this as decomposition. The massive, global degradation of soil is intrinsically connected with climate change – the more the soil degrades, the more CO2 remains in the atmosphere, and the stronger the greenhouse effect, and the drier and more degraded the soil will become. This presents the fashion industry as a major obstacle to global food security. Even natural fibers can harm the environment due to massive-scale agribusiness to grow cotton and overgrazing of pastures by cashmere goats and sheep.
As you can see, there are many ways we need to address the environmental impact of the fashion industry. The low-carbon economy is the future of the fashion industry. From using ecological fibers to manufacturing sustainable fabrics and sewing fair trade clothing, energy is required during all these production processes. The environmental impact of the garment industry does not end with production. It is also an aspect of their maintenance and discarding them.
How do you maintain a wardrobe that emits low carbon dioxide?
How do I lessen the environmental impact of my wardrobe?
- Buy clothes that you need and that fit.
- Bamboo is by far the most ecological material for clothing.
- Follow instructions for washing clothes to keep them durable.
- Find laundry detergent from natural ingredients.
- Air dry, using the sun as a dryer. You don’t need electricity!
- Donate or resell rather than throw away.
- Choose biodegradable fabrics – bamboo is one of them too!
Using this information about how our world is affected by the fashion industry, we added to our mission of making the best boxer briefs for men to tackle the biggest issue of our generation: global climate change.
This is why we have a transparent supply chain from the cultivation of the bamboo fabric through the manufacturing of the viscose material to fair trade and ethics in assembly. Our underwear is made in Bulgaria, where we are based, at a facility that has a certificate for the correct classification of environmental goods according to ISO 14021 standard.
Because our ultimate goal is to grow the inventory within our brand, the sourcing of the fabric is where we are making smart choices. We have a strong trusting partnership with our suppliers who have outlined the entire process of the way the bamboo viscose fabric is made.
The blend of spandex that is used to create the perfect elasticity of bamboo viscose fabric is actually recycled, and our suppliers for the material hold a China Environmental Label issued by SEPA. Since we only sell biodegradable underwear, we are using the cradle-to-cradle business model.
“But from our perspective, products that are not designed particularly for human and ecological health [i.e. with a low carbon dioxide footprint] are unintelligent and inelegant – what we call crude products.”
Photo caption: The book “Cradle to Cradle” by Willam McDonough is one of our inspirations for the Bumbuk bamboo underwear brand.
Allow us now to compare the low carbon footprint of our bamboo clothing.
What is the carbon footprint of a pair of Calvin Klein boxer briefs?
Each pair of Calvin Klein boxer briefs needs about 2,500 liters of fresh water for the cotton to be grown. Furthermore, fossil fuels are used to cultivate it and transport it to all of their factories throughout the world. Despite having joined the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, Calvin Klein has done little to improve its ecological impacts. They have not set specific targets to reduce carbon emissions or water usage as they use no eco-friendly materials leaving their pledge to be nothing more than an empty promise. What is even more disappointing, Calvin Klein was highlighted in the Greenpeace Dirty Laundry report as one of the brands linked to water pollution in China.
Based on information from the 2017 Ethical Fashion Report and our own research, Calvin Klein has published the Supplier Code of Conduct, however, we can easily see that they have not followed through. They also lack any worker empowerment initiatives and have made no progress in ensuring that they are paying a living wage. Calvin Klein (along with many large clothing brands) are infamous for their neo-colonialist practices, outsourcing labor and running sweatshops with poor conditions in both Asia and Africa.
Actually making the calculation is a difficult task because Calvin Klein does not publicly release their suppliers, making them non-transparent in terms of the supply chain. We just don’t know where they get their materials, but we can only assume that the transport costs are through the roof. The frequent transport of materials from one end of the world to the other is also a poor indicator for a low carbon dioxide footprint.
What is the low carbon dioxide footprint of our BUMBUK bamboo underwear?
For starters, bamboo uses 90% less water than cotton and the soil does not need to be cultivated, fertilized, or turned, therefore limited erosion and preserving the natural soil structure. This means that not only does bamboo cultivation have a low carbon dioxide emissions rate, but also it sequesters carbon, which means it actually works proactively to combat climate change.
We at BUMBUK do source our fabrics from China, which is a hub for global textile manufacturing, and made sure to select a supplier that meets the standards of the Forest Stewardship Council. Bamboo plantations have expansive underground stems, preventing sediments from entering streams and rivers. They have the ability to regenerate overgrazed land, while at the same time creating an ecosystem on their own.
Bamboo forests help cool the climate in many ways, and we did our due diligence and made sure that the bamboo plantations from which we source our fabric are located on reclaimed land and not recently deforested places. Bamboo plantations can be managed responsibly and thus preserve and restore specific ecosystem services. The growth of the bamboo fabric industry has actually helped clean up and regenerate once barren and unusable land all over China. Since our bamboo fiber suppliers are verified by the FSC system, we are certain that they are helping regenerate the land rather than destroy it.
How can we keep our low carbon dioxide footprint sustainable?
As long as bamboo cultivation grows in popularity, it can revolutionize the fashion industry because it will provide a sustainable alternative to cotton for the mass market. On the consumer level, bamboo is just as durable (if not more) than cotton, as well as ultra-soft to the touch. It is literally the best material for underwear. Once you put on a pair of our BUMBUK bamboo boxer briefs, bamboo briefs, bamboo thermal leggings – cotton will begin to seem itchy, smelly, and rough.
The Forest Stewardship Council is even calling bamboo cultivation “The Miracle of Bamboo” because of its possibility to have a positive effect on climate change. Now we are only waiting on consumers to realize the value of bamboo and prefer it over cotton.