Clothing is big business for agriculture, with conventional cotton representing 10% of all agriculture in the world. However, production methods are causing serious damage to the environment, biodiversity and human health. Cotton is notoriously pesticide-intensive; approximately 25% of global pesticide usage is attributed to cotton production. This has resulted in a search caused for alternative materials from which to make our clothes and other textiles.

Bamboo is becoming increasingly popular as an alternative to cotton in the production of clothing. Bamboo is the foundation on which BAM Bamboo Clothing have built their brand, working on the basis that bamboo is a sustainable product. BAM has set an aspiration to become an ‘Impact Positive’ company; this means that they are not just reducing the negative impact of their activities on the planet but ensuring that their activities have an overall positive impact.

In order to achieve this, they needed to understand the environmental and social impacts of the bamboo supply chain to recognise where there might be risks and opportunities. ADAS worked with BAM to carry out a high-level environmental and social impact assessment of bamboo production in China, where BAM is sourcing the bamboo used in its clothing.

Our assessment concluded that bamboo has the potential to be a highly sustainable crop. It has low requirements for artificial fertiliser, pesticides, or irrigation water if grown in the right place and in the right way. Extensive production in well-managed natural forests has the potential to support biodiverse forests and provide a good income to the local community. However, there are threats to the sustainability of bamboo if grown in the wrong place or under inappropriate management.

BAM has recently published their first sustainability report which our assessment contributed to; click the link for the full report.

With consumers waking up to the impact of how their clothes and other textiles are made, it is important for retailers and manufacturers to understand the key sustainability risks in raw material supply chains. To find out more about how ADAS can help you improve the sustainability of your textile products, visit our sustainable textiles service page.

For more information on how ADAS can help ensure the responsible sourcing of materials, contact Emily Mason on +44 (0)1954 268305.


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