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Bamboo fabric vs cotton vs lyocell

17 May 2023

When it comes to picking the most eco-friendly fabric, there's more to consider than just the raw materials. You gotta think about the whole life of the fabric, from how it's made to how it's disposed of. And don't forget about durability! It's super important in reducing waste and making clothes last longer.

Now, finding fabrics that are made using less polluting methods is usually a good bet for the environment. However, let's be real - it can be tough to find fabrics that are naturally grown and sustainable, especially with all the fast fashion stuff going on. But hey, here's some good news! People are starting to care more about their choices, and that means there are more sustainable and ethical alternatives popping up. You can find options that look great and are kind to the planet too. Isn't that awesome?

Which fabric is best (i.e. the most eco-friendly)?

The most eco-friendly fabrics are the ones you hold on to. There is nothing wrong with making or buying something that you intend to keep. A quality garment with a long usable life is better than “fast fashion” that goes from runway to store to landfill.

Denim Repair
Denim Repair Contributes to the Environment

Fabrics that are repairable are also eco-friendly. Do you have a favorite pair of jeans that you can’t wear because the crotch blew out? Go to That’s not a referral link. They do quality work which also helps the environment. This is a real issue that the United Nations has addressed.

Clothing created from fabric made with less polluting production methods is the least harmful to the environment. The fashion industry serves millions of people who want inexpensive clothing quickly. Fabrics that are naturally and sustainably grown and which undergo little processing are few.

Can the industry be eco-friendly, profitable, and, well, fashionable? Let's take a look at the first part with an example - Bamboo Linen.

How to make bamboo fabric

GRADE: 🌏🌏🌏🌏 💵💵💵💵 🕰🕰🕰🕰

Harvest the correct type of bamboo. Harvest the bamboo correctly. Perform minimal processing. Get bamboo linen. Easy?

Creating bamboo fabric is a breeze when you follow these easy steps. First things first, you need to harvest the right kind of bamboo. Choose the right bamboo variety and ensure that the harvesting process is carried out with care. This simple step sets the foundation for the entire fabric-making process.
One of the amazing qualities of bamboo is its rapid growth. Once you've harvested the bamboo, you'll be delighted to know that the same plant can be harvested again the following season. This sustainable practice not only benefits the environment but also contributes to the local economy.

Agood Company Bamboo Socks
Bamboo Crew Socks

To produce high-quality, eco-friendly bamboo linen, proper land management is crucial. Taking care of the bamboo plantation ensures that the fabric you create is truly eco-friendly. It's fascinating how the smallest details, such as cutting the shoots correctly, can make a significant difference. By avoiding mistakes like harvesting in the wrong month or cutting too close to the ground, you preserve the integrity of the bamboo tract and maintain the fabric's eco-friendly nature.

Now, let's dive into the fabric-making process. The journey begins with crushing the woody parts of the bamboo. This can be done manually or with the help of mechanised equipment. The bamboo is transformed into a pulpy "enzyme factory" that works its magic on the fibres. These enzymes break down the cell walls, making the fibres easily spinnable into yarn.

Although this process is highly eco-friendly, it does come with a price tag. The production of bamboo linen requires a bit more investment and time compared to other fabrics. However, the result is worth it: a luxurious fabric that contributes to a sustainable future.

Harvested Bamboo

How to make cotton fabric

GRADE: 🌏 💵 🕰

Making cotton fabric might sound simple, but it actually involves a series of steps. To start with, cotton thrives in a warm climate with no frost and lots of sunshine. It also requires a substantial amount of rain, around 2 to 4 feet, throughout its growing season. However, cotton cultivation can have negative impacts on the land, regardless of whether it is grown conventionally or organically.

Various factors affect the sustainability of cotton cultivation, including whether it’s conventionally or organically grown, whether the crops themselves are GMO or non-GMO, if the crops are rotated, or synthetic fertilisers are used, and so on. These considerations play a role in determining the overall environmental impact of cotton production.

Agood Company T-Shirt

Once the cotton is harvested, it undergoes a processing stage to transform it into fabric. Cotton mills, which can be found across the globe, play a crucial role in this process. These mills convert raw cotton into yarn, which is then used to create the fabric we are familiar with. These mills often rely on energy sources derived from carbon, which contributes to their environmental footprint.

The conventional and GMO cotton production methods mentioned earlier are not particularly eco-friendly. While they may be cost-effective due to large-scale production, they can cause significant long-term harm to the environment. Despite these drawbacks, the conventional method remains popular due to its efficiency and speed.

Is organic cotton bad for the environment?

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Fabric made from organic cotton is sourced from non-genetically modified organisms (GMOs) that are cultivated without relying on synthetic agricultural chemicals like fertilisers and pesticides. These responsible farming practices are closely monitored and verified by relevant government agencies or approved non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

Cotton Field

One of the advantages of organic cotton is that it utilises natural pesticides and reduces the use of harmful chemicals compared to conventional methods. However, cotton farming still demands significant water resources. When attempts are made to grow cotton in unsuitable areas with low rainfall or changing rainfall patterns caused by climate change, irrigation becomes necessary, leading to potential harm to eco-hydrology.

A vivid illustration of this issue is the disappearance of the Aral Sea, which occurred as a result of intentionally diverting water to cotton fields. This serves as a sobering reminder of the ecological consequences that can arise when water resources are mismanaged for the sake of cotton production.

How to make lyocell

GRADE: 🌏🌏🌏 💵💵💵 🕰

A newer fabric derived from bamboo is called bamboo lyocell. It uses a closed-loop industrial process that chemically transforms the plant fibre into a Rayon-like material that remains bio-degradable. The production process has a minimal impact on the environment and recovers or decomposes all the solvents and emissions produced. It still requires chemicals and energy.

Tencel Lyocell Underwear Women
Tencel Lyocell Underwear Men

Why is lyocell eco-friendly? (Hint: Because it’s not made like Rayon.)

Lyocell is more eco-friendly for two reasons:

  • Bamboo plants require far less water to grow than other sources
  • Conventional viscose Rayon is a chemical-laden open-loop process that is harsh on the environment and consumes energy during production and even during dyeing. Lyocell, though related chemically to Rayon is much better in those regards.


What makes a fabric eco-friendly depends on a variety of factors. It's not a simple matter of just looking at the fabric itself, but rather understanding its entire lifecycle, from production to usage and beyond. How the fabric is used, how it is made, from where it’s derived, how it's transported, etc.

Look at the label. Is it made from cotton or organic cotton? Viscose bamboo or Lyocell bamboo? Does it come from a factory? Is it made by an indigenous population using traditional techniques or by an artisan using a hybrid method?

Being informed helps you make the decision you feel comfortable with, and that fits your budget. So, take the time to gather information and choose a fabric that aligns with your values and sustainability goals. Look for companies with a strong commitment to sustainability, such as those offering eco-friendly fashion lines. For instance, you may opt for bamboo socks, lyocell underwear for women, lyocell underwear for men, or organic and recycled cotton T-shirts.

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Anders Ankarlid

Anders Ankarlid

Co-founder & Product Development Lead

Co-founder of agood company and product development lead. A serial e-commerce entrepreneur, and a father of three. Have worked in e-commerce for more than a decade. Mindless consumption activist.

"I want to be able to look into my kids’ eyes and honestly say: "I did everything I could to hinder climate-change”

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