Bamboo socks are an eco-friendly and sustainable sock option made from bamboo viscose fabric. However, the name bamboo socks can be misleading.
Today we’ll look at how these socks are made and some of their benefits, including a few things to consider before purchasing.
How Are Bamboo Socks Made?
The manufacturing process of bamboo socks begins with the bamboo plant.
Bamboo is a grass that grows in tropical and subtropical regions worldwide. Bamboo grows quickly and is widely considered to be a sustainable material.
Once the plant reaches its full height, it is harvested and then ground into a pulp to be used as the main ingredient in bamboo socks.
The pulp then soaks in a softening solution before being spun into yarn. This is where the environmental impact may begin to reveal itself:
- Some companies rely on a ‘closed-loop’ system, which essentially recycles and reuses both water and solvents. This is considered environmentally friendly.
- Other companies follow an ‘open-loop’ system, which releases wastewater and solvents into the environment. This is not considered to be as eco-friendly.
Once the bamboo pulp has been dried and woven into yarn (bamboo rayon), it is ready to be used to make socks. To ensure a high-quality product, most companies will combine the bamboo rayon with other fibers, including cotton, spandex, and nylon.
What the FTC Says
In May 2021, the FTC released a report detailing their concerns with bamboo fabric.
The report states that when “bamboo” rayon is made, “there’s no trace of the original plant left.” This means that bamboo socks are not technically a sustainable or eco-friendly alternative to traditional synthetic socks.
Additionally, they state the following:
Companies that claim their eco-friendly products contain bamboo or have antibacterial properties should have reliable scientific evidence to support the claims. To learn more about a product’s claims, you can check the product, the company’s website, or contact the company. If you aren’t satisfied with the information, you may want to choose a different product.https://consumer.ftc.gov/articles/bamboo-fabrics
The Takeaway: Do your research and make sure the company is transparent about its manufacturing process to ensure they are being eco-friendly.
The FTC also put out a notice in August of 2009 that outlined bamboo socks’ labeling requirements.
This excerpt was pretty revealing:
The truth is, most “bamboo” textile products, if not all, really are rayon, which typically is made using environmentally toxic chemicals in a process that emits hazardous pollutants into the air. While different plants, including bamboo, can be used as a source material to create rayon, there’s no trace of the original plant in the finished rayon product.https://www.ftc.gov/business-guidance/resources/how-avoid-bamboozling-your-customers
They went on to state the following:
If you sell clothing, linens, or other textile products, you’re responsible for making truthful disclosures about the fiber content. If your product isn’t made directly of bamboo fiber — but is a manufactured fiber for which bamboo was the plant source — it should be labeled and advertised using the proper generic name for the fiber, such as rayon, or “rayon made from bamboo.”https://www.ftc.gov/business-guidance/resources/how-avoid-bamboozling-your-customers
When looking at one of the leading bamboo clothing companies, Boody, you can see that they state this on their fabric section as well:
8 Benefits of Bamboo Socks
Given that most bamboo socks are essentially rayon, some benefits come along with wearing them. Here are a few:
- Breathable: Bamboo is a very breathable fabric which means it will keep your feet cool and dry.
- Moisture-Wicking: These socks are great for wicking moisture away from the skin and keeping you cool, dry, and comfortable (source).
- Soft: Bamboo rayon is exceptionally soft and comfortable against the skin, making it an excellent choice for socks.
- Durable: With high tensile strength, rayon made from bamboo is more durable than other natural fibers like cotton.
- Antimicrobial: Real bamboo socks are naturally antimicrobial and resistant to bacteria, mold, and mildew.
- Easy to Maintain: Bamboo socks are easy to care for and can be machine washed or hand washed without shrinkage.
- Sustainable: Given that bamboo is a quickly renewable resource, bamboo socks are considered a sustainable choice.
- Affordable: Unlike some other sustainable fabrics, bamboo is relatively inexpensive. This makes bamboo socks a great choice for an eco-friendly option that doesn’t break the bank.
Things to Consider Before Purchasing Bamboo Socks
Before purchasing bamboo socks, there are a few things to keep in mind.
- Wear them Accordingly: It’s important to consider the climate you’ll be wearing them in. If you live in a warm climate, bamboo socks may be a great choice to help keep your feet cool. However, if you live in a cold climate, you may want to choose a different sock option.
- How They are Made: It’s important to consider how the manufacturer makes the socks. As mentioned previously, some companies follow a closed-loop system, while others follow an open-loop system. This can affect the environmental impact of the socks, so consider researching the company before buying.
- The FTC’s Report: The FTC’s report on bamboo fabric should be considered before purchasing bamboo socks. Be sure to do your research and make sure the company is transparent about how their socks are made.
Common Questions about Bamboo Socks
Are bamboo socks good for your feet?
Given the benefits of bamboo socks, many people find them good for their feet. They are breathable, moisture-wicking, and soft, making them an excellent choice for those with sensitive skin. However, it’s essential to consider the specific sock you are purchasing and research how it is made.
Are bamboo socks sustainable?
While different manufacturers have different methods of making their bamboo socks, bamboo is generally a sustainable resource. It grows quickly and is considered a more sustainable choice than other materials like cotton.
Are bamboo socks expensive?
Bamboo socks are typically more affordable than other sustainable fabrics and can be found at various price points, depending on the brand. However, it’s important to consider the quality of the socks before purchasing to ensure you are getting a good value.