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.