Optical fibers are a key component in modern photonics, where conventionally used polymer materials are derived from fossil-based resources, causing heavy greenhouse emissions and raising sustainability concerns. As a potential alternative, fibers derived from cellulose-based materials offer renewability, biocompatibility, and biodegradability. In the present work, we studied the potential of carboxymethyl cellulose (CMC) to prepare optical fibers with a core-only architecture. Wet-spun CMC hydrogel filaments were cross-linked using aluminum ions to fabricate optical fibers. The transmission spectra of fibers suggest that the light transmission window for cladding-free CMC fibers was in the range of 550–1350 nm, wherein the attenuation coefficient for CMC fibers was measured to be 1.6 dB·cm–1 at 637 nm. CMC optical fibers were successfully applied in touch sensing and respiratory rate monitoring. Finally, as a proof-of-concept, we demonstrate high-speed (150 Mbit/s) short-distance signal transmission using CMC fibers (at 1310 nm) in both air and water media. Our results establish the potential of carboxymethyl cellulose-based biocompatible optical fibers for highly demanding advanced sensor applications, such as in the biomedical domain.