Bamboozled? Bamboo Fabric Far From Eco-Friendly, Says FTC

Bamboo forest photo

Photo credit: Getty Images

Longstanding claims of bamboo fabric's planet-loving ways? Nothing but a load of horse hockey, says the Federal Trade Commission, who charged four companies on Tuesday with violating the Textile Act and Rules by making "false and unsubstantiated 'green' claims.'"

Jonäno, Mad Mod, Pure Bamboo, and Bamboosa were taken to task for alleging that their garments are manufactured using environmentally-friendly methods, that they retain the natural antimicrobial properties of the bamboo plant, and that they're biodegradable.Bamboo fabric no different than rayon
According to the FTC, the companies falsely claim that their textile products are "100 percent bamboo fiber"—marketing them under such names as "ecoKashmere," "Pure Bamboo," "Bamboo Comfort," and "BambooBaby"—when they're essentially rayon.

Notes the Commission:

Rayon is a man-made fiber created from the cellulose found in plants and trees and processed with a harsh chemical that releases hazardous air pollutants. Any plant or tree could be used as the cellulose source—including bamboo—but the fiber that is created is rayon.

CFDA agrees that bamboo fiber is less than green
In a recent column published by the Council of Fashion Designers of America, Linda E. Greer, director of the Natural Resources Defense Council's Health Program, writes that despite bamboo's rep as an eco-fiber, the process that renders it into fabric is similar to that of conventional rayon and is supremely chemical intensive. "Avoid, if you’re looking to go greener," Greer says.

Bamboo fabric is neither antimicrobial nor biodegradable
Even if bamboo is used as the cellulose source for the rayon comprising the companies' wares, says the FTC, the harsh chemicals used to dissolve the plant material would nullify any natural antimicrobial properties of the bamboo plant.

Further, rayon products are not biodegradable—meaning that they will not break down in a reasonably short time after disposal—because most textiles are disposed of either by recycling or sending to a landfill. "Neither method results in quick biodegradation," writes the FTC.

Meanwhile, the Commission has released a consumer alert: Have You Been Bamboozled by Bamboo Fabrics?
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