Layers of Choice and Why we chose Cotton over Bamboo


A lot of things make up our impact on this planet. Every material we use, everything we wear, every food we grow, has a footprint.🐾 Some things have different footprints than others. 👣

When we are talking about organic materials, some require less water💧and less energy⚡️than others. Cotton and bamboo are a perfect example of this. We hope to shed some light🕯on why we chose Cotton over Bamboo for our LastTissue material.

Why we chose cotton over bamboo: the short answer

Despite the resource benefits of bamboo compared to cotton, there is currently no bamboo that is certified organic. Because of this, we would not be able to give you (our customers) a guarantee this material was harvested ethically and sustainably. 

We instead chose cotton because of its organic and sustainable sourcing. It is durable, soft, and is of course an organic material that can be composted when its lifetime is up. 

Otherwise, why choose bamboo?

Let’s start with some characteristics of bamboo, bamboo:

  • Grows very quickly 🏎
  • Requires minimal water 💦
  • Doesn’t require pesticides 🧪
  • Can be harvested without the need for reseeding 🌱
  • Can be used in a variety of ways 👚🏠🥢

Resource wise, bamboo absolutely demands less than cotton. As a lot of us have probably experienced however, both footprint and environmental impact have layers🧅 that go beyond the surface.

Layers of Choice

“Often when you think you’re at the end of something, you’re at the beginning of something else.” – Fred Rogers

Layer 1

To understand the deeper complexities of our footprint and impact, we must first understand the surface.

First off, there are alternatives to practically everything that is better for the environment. Switching from dairy milk🐄 to a plant based milk🌰 is far better for the environment and switching from a single use tissue to a reusable tissue is much better as well.

If taking that first step is difficult enough, that’s okay. Just focus on that and know you are making a huge difference in this simple change.👍🏽

Layer 2

White locker door shut with a pink number two on it

We can make sustainable choices, but we can also make more sustainable choices within that sustainable choice. Confused? Here’s an example: plant based milks are much better👍than dairy milk as far as resources, but not all plant based milks have the same footprint.⚖️

While both bamboo and cotton are far better than a single use option, one can still be better than the other. We can notice this with almost every sustainable alternative to something.

🚘🚙The alternatives to driving a car could be: 

  • Walking 🚶🏻‍♀️
  • Biking 🚲
  • Taking the train or bus 🚉
  • Using your jetpack 🚀
  • Teleporting 🛸

All of these options are better than driving a gas powered car, but all of them have a different footprint. It’s worth noting though I am unaware of the footprints of jetpacks and teleportation. 

Layer 3

Soccer goal net with number three in it.

Now, taking that a half of a step further: things that appear to be better may actually be more complicated. As you saw with the characteristics of bamboo, it seems that bamboo is the better option compared to cotton.🏅

So why would we pick cotton over bamboo?🎍The reason is the absence of quality and sustainable assurance or certification.

Many may not know this, but bamboo is unable to be sourced certified organic🍎which makes the quality, ethics, and environmental practices unassured. 

The amount of  'organic' bamboo fabric Tenbro exports annually is 20 times greater than the amount of American-produced organic cotton exported annually. Yet the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) public database, the leading authority on certification, does not contain any organic bamboo.” - Vision Times

While you can certainly find bamboo sources that are abiding by all organic standards, without certification we would be simply “taking their word for it”.🥺

The Finished Product

Fabrics such as cotton and hemp are already very soft so they require minimal processing or chemicals. Bamboo, on the other hand, is a different story. Clothing made from bamboo is actually bamboo rayon.

Rayon is somewhat confusing, but in short it is a fabric based from plants like wood or bamboo which is mixed with heavy chemicals to become a fabric. On the surface it appears rather eco friendly🌱 but actually requires a lot of energy⚡️and chemical pollution to produce.

You may also see a lot of clothing companies mixing in polyester and spandex for softness and stretch. We wanted to be as natural as possible with our tissues so polyester was not an option. 

By using organic cotton we are able to produce a tissue that requires much less processing while being naturally very soft for our noses and skin.👃🏼👏🏽

Man in white shirt rubbing his nose with a tissue

There are those of us who have only recently started making changes for the planet. Maybe this information went completely over some heads🙄or was rather overwhelming.🙇🏼‍♂️ That’s okay. 

If we are simply starting out, we want to make choices that are better for the environment than our previous ones, simple as that. Switching to a reusable version of something is almost always better for the planet, plain and simple.

A book on science or math open with a pen and magnifying glass laying on top.

As a company who is creating products which are better for the planet, it is our job to take our knowledge a step further beyond surface level. This way, it takes the guessing🤷🏽‍♀️and learning curve out of buying sustainable products. It also appeals to those who have done their research📚and have delved into the complexities of making their good choices, even better.🤓 

Wherever you are in your sustainable journey there is always more to learn and improve on. Just don’t forget you are doing much better than you were before and that is something to celebrate. 

Written by Aaron Burr 

A writer dedicated to working solely with companies on a mission to help the earth and people on it.