VERDICT: Some good things are happening, but there’s DEFINITELY material-focused greenwashing going on.
Boody is an Australian-based underwear, comfortwear, and activewear company that proudly uses bamboo or organic cotton in the material fibers of their product. I was particularly interested in reviewing this company because I was gifted a pair of their lounge pants, and I thought “no way pants this soft can be sustainable,” so I made it a point to find out!
The company was started to make simple and comfortable clothing while reducing water usage, conserving energy, and minimizing waste. I am impressed with the design of the products, and argue that their stylistic simplicity makes them sustainable (simple garments are easier to style in a variety of ways, reducing the need for more articles of clothing). Boody is a B Corp Certified Business (“B Corps”). This means that Boody is already recognized as a sustainable business in terms of “people, planet, and profit”, as the goal of B Corps is to highlight companies that are using business for good. They are very innovative in their material use and manufacturing processes, but there is still definitely room for improvement, especially in their transparency and marketing practices.
Boody’s products’ materials are primarily (but not entirely) made of organically grown bamboo, Lyo-Lyte, or organic cotton.
Bamboo is a useful material in a lot of ways. First, it grows rapidly in a relatively small space. Second, most of the plant is utilized when turning it into material for the textile, minimizing waste in this area. Bamboo also acts as a good carbon sequester, and produces more oxygen than a typical forest of the same size. Boody’s bamboo is sourced in Sichuan, China in an FSC-certified field. Bamboo is often criticized for using too much water, but Boody utilizes natural rainfall to water the crops without needing an irrigation system that wastes excess water. Additionally, they do not use any pesticides or fertilizers in their bamboo production.
I had never heard of Lyo-Lyte, but the company has a lot of information on what they use that I was thankfully able to tap into. Lyo-Lyte is a cellulose fiber that is often made of birch or eucalyptus trees, but Boody is unique by using bamboo and nontoxic chemicals (what chemicals these are exactly, I was unable to find out) to reduce the pulp to cellulose, which is then spun into yarn for garments. It is also worth noting that 99% of the cellulose-reduction chemicals are reused to create a circular loop, reducing waste and unnecessary production. The Lyo-Lyte production process differs from that of the organic bamboo, which utilizes all of the bamboo’s properties (it is not reduced to just cellulose) as it is pressed into a fabric then spun.
Organic cotton is one of the ideal options for organic fibers, as it does not use as much water, pesticides, or energy as inorganic cotton.
As far as packaging goes, all boxes are made of recycled material and able to continually be recycled. Some products are also packaged with bags, made of biodegradable, compostable, and recyclable corn based bioplastic (polyactic acid). All of the packaging is marked with plant-based inks.
Despite how amazing it all sounds, I have noticed that Boody’s products are not as sustainable as they initially look. Although all of the products are advertised to be made of incredibly sustainable materials, it refrains from mentioning the unsustainable materials that go into many products as well. By looking at the material make-up of specific products as if I were about to purchase them, I saw that many of them contain elastane and/or nylon– fossil fuel derived materials. In fact, every product I looked at contained at least 8% synthetic materials. From what I can see, these fibers are not made from recycled materials. Additionally, depending on how these synthetic materials are woven into the product with the organic materials, the product itself can be made significantly more difficult to recycle post-consumer use. Even though these garments are made of mostly sustainable materials (~90% for most products), the lack of acknowledgement of the unsustainable materials going into them along with the lack of a plan to reduce dependency on them results in greenwashing.
Additionally, the company could improve with a post-consumer circularity strategy to reduce end-of-life waste with something like a takeback program.
Boody contributes to numerous environmental-focused nonprofits through 1% For the Planet. Through their partnership with 1% For the Planet, Boody donates 1% of profits from all online purchases. I think that limiting this to only online purchases is misleading to consumers, and Boody’s support should increase to be 1% of profits throughout all purchased products. This recommendation is based on the amount that Boody advertises itself on being an eco-conscious brand that gives back.
Boody uses low-impact dyes for the garments, which are great for not releasing toxic chemicals into waste water.
While there is a lot of information about the raw materials and material production, I was unable to find much information on the apparel manufacturing. From what I have learned from their website, Boody is able to create garments without seams by utilizing computerized tube-structured sewing machines. Using these allows textiles to be knitted into pre-planned shapes, helping to significantly reduce material waste in the manufacturing process.
Boody does not have any mention of the type of energy that their machines use or the type of energy used in transporting materials from their Sichuan fields to the manufacturing location. They also do not have any information on their carbon usage, nor do they have a publicly visible carbon neutral plan. The website does mention that they choose their facilities based on their ability to operate on a level that reduces environmental impact, but this is not backed with an explanation of how the factories manage to do this.
In their Code of Conduct, Boody clearly states their expectations and requirements for their workers by specifically mentioning regulations against child or forced labor along with non-discrimination and freedom-of-assocaition practices. Also in this document are the fair working terms (rules regarding coercion and harassment, working hours, and wages and benefits) and safety regulations to support workers all the way through the supply chain.
Product production and manufacturing occurs in India, China, or Vietnam. This is a red flag for me due to infamously relaxed labor laws in these areas, but Boody assures customers that they “are proud of how [their] factory workers are treated,” as all of their facilities are WRAP certified. This is followed up with the explanation that this certification implies that “all factory workers are treated ethically, have health care, annual leave and do not use child labour.” I looked into the WRAP certification (linked below, check it out!), which has 12 guiding principles and a clear certification process. My only comment on this certification is that it is unclear how much certified facilities are monitored; the website only states that “All certified facilities are subject to random, unannounced Post-Certification Assessments during their certification period,” keeping out a number of times each facility is guaranteed to be re-assessed during the certification period.
Externally, Boody works with nonprofits that focus on both societal and environmental progress. Boody has previously worked with and donated to Chris O’Brienlifehouse and Threat Together, and is currently working with the organizations Goodbye Malaria, Circle of Love Center, and Bridge of Hope San Diego.
Boody as a B Crop Certified Business
Everything You Need To Know About Polyactic Acid
Boody Code of Conduct
Boody on B Corp
Boody’s raw material process
Boody products that I looked at that contain unsustainable synthetic materials:
WRAP Certification Process
WRAP’s 12 Principles for Certification