The Panji Mosquito Net - Bambulah

overall rating:



Elizabeth Steel
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The Panji Mosquito net is the cheapest of a range of luxury mosquito nets produced by the company Bambulah. The price of the nets are quite high (starting at £45 for the Panji, going up to £169 for the luxury 100% cotton ‘The Garin Net’.). Bambulah nets are sold for private use, as opposed to being used by NGOs/charities to reduce the spread of malaria worldwide. On their site, the company expresses an interest in making the nets cheaper and more accessible for more people. However, it also states that this is currently not feasible without sacrificing the sustainability of the product. The company recognises that the mosquito net industry has a significant environmental impact and in response states that “we strive to do anything within our means to bring you a better and more sustainable product.” This includes factors such as the durability/lifecycle of the net, stocking procedures, and tree-planting schemes. In many respects, the Bambulah net scores highly. However, my one main concern is a systematic lack of transparency. There is a generalised paucity of information about production conditions and the lack of transparency in this respect makes me question whether this may be an area of sustainability that the company is still falling behind in.

What it's made of:


The Panji net is made of a strong micro-polyester, which is a cheap and easy-to-produce material that is derived from petroleum. Not only is petroleum used as a raw material, but it is also required as a fuel in the production process. Petroleum is a fossil fuel and thus is not renewable. Whilst this is problematic, the way it is produced means that it has high tensile strength, meaning it is very durable. A further complication of this material is that it is not biodegradable. The net also has a double hemmed cotton border. Cotton is renewable and biodegradable so in this respect it is fairly sustainable. Cotton is, however, quite water-intensive and land-intensive to produce. Furthermore, whilst many of the ‘100% cotton nets’ are made from organic cotton, there is no suggestion that the borders of the Panji are in fact organically produced. Therefore, I assume that the borders of the net are non-organic cotton - this is very problematic. The production of non-organic cotton is estimated to consume 16% of the world's pesticides a year. Not only is this incredibly harmful for the natural environment, but it also causes many health conditions for the people who are using it. The frame of the net is made of natural bamboo – this is a really sustainable product as it grows incredibly quickly and is therefore highly renewable. Also, when growing, bamboo is a great store of carbon, stopping it from warming the atmosphere. Undoubtedly, this benefit ceases when we deforest it, but this is mitigated by the fact that it grows very quickly and is more sustainable than other wood alternatives. Therefore, the primary issue with the Panji net in terms of what it’s made of is the polyester, and it is this which lowers the score for this section.

How it's made:


As mentioned above, the production of polyester requires the burning of petroleum and is, like cotton, energy-intensive to produce. Bamboo requires very little refinement/production though, as it naturally grows straight, so it is very sustainable. Despite the high environmental impact of polyester/cotton production, Bambulah appears to make a substantial effort to lower the environmental footprint of their production in several ways. For instance, they avoid dyeing their nets, as they see this as an unnecessary use of resources and also recognise that the dye can contaminate water sources when the nets are being washed. Additionally, Bambulah only produces the nets in small batches so as to avoid overproduction and waste. In the event that they do overproduce the nets, they donate the surplus nets to charity. As well as reducing waste, this makes their brand more accessible to certain people who are in more acute need of nets. One caveat is that at the end of the lifecycle of the nets, polyester is very difficult to dispose of. There are a few breakthroughs regarding chemical/mechanical recycling of polyester; however, this is a long way off from being a circular process as large percentages of the initial product are wasted and the recycling process is currently hugely energy-intensive. Finally, Bambulah has noted that they seek to achieve “minimal use of plastic throughout [their] entire supply chain”, which is positive. However, they fail to explain exactly how they are achieving this, meaning it adds little value to their claim of sustainability. 

Who makes it:


One area of concern for me, in terms of the production of the Panji (and other Bambulah nets), is who the nets are produced by. Whilst the company states that it is based upon “a strong sense of caring for our environment and our people,” the lack of transparency on their website raises concerns. The only information that Bambulah offers on their website is that the workers are valued as “the highest quality artisans” and that production is done in Bali, by hand. Bambulah appears to have slightly romanticized the idea of these artisans working in Bali - they state that they searched all over for the best artisans to produce the nets and happened to find them all in Bali. This seems somewhat improbable to me and raises concerns that the actual conditions/pay received by the workers may be something that the company is trying to hide, leading me to assume that the company may be more focused on greenwashing their company aesthetic rather than truly improving worker conditions. There is no modern slavery policy/child labour policy on the website that commits them to avoiding such practices and no concrete evidence that the workers are treated well. This supports my theory that the focus on the idyllic working conditions of Bali may be a cover for their lack of coherent policies on good working conditions. Additionally, external sources have suggested that in Indonesia, factories are exempted from paying minimum wages. Therefore, whilst there is no specific evidence of mistreatment of workers, the lack of transparency in this respect raises concerns.