Friday, February 05, 2010

Bamboozled by Bamboo Fabrics

Well this sucks. Consumer Reports tells us the FTC is coming down hard on retailers who are marketing rayon fabric products (bedding, apparel) as "bamboo" and therefore environmentally conscious. 
snip: "Among the companies warned by the FTC are, Bed Bath & Beyond, Costco, Kmart, Lands' End, Sears, Target, and Walmart."
From the FTC :
"Looking to be a more environmentally conscious shopper? You’ve probably heard about bamboo. Bamboo stands out for its ability to grow quickly with little or no need for pesticides, and it is used in a variety of products, from flooring to furniture. But when it comes to soft bamboo textiles, like shirts or sheets, there’s a catch: they’re actually rayon.
The Federal Trade Commission, the nation’s consumer protection agency, wants you to know that the soft “bamboo” fabrics on the market today are rayon. They are made using toxic chemicals in a process that releases pollutants into the air. Extracting bamboo fibers is expensive and time-consuming, and textiles made just from bamboo fiber don’t feel silky smooth.

There’s also no evidence that rayon made from bamboo retains the antimicrobial properties of the bamboo plant, as some sellers and manufacturers claim. Even when bamboo is the “plant source” used to create rayon, no traits of the original plant are left in the finished product. "
Another newfangled cotton/linen "alternative" I've seen (and bought... it feels wonderfully silky smooth but wrinkles like a Shar Pei when not blended with cotton) is "modal"... produced from the fibers of beech trees.  Looks like it's really just rayon, too.
Example of BB&B primer on fibers used in sheets (it appears they haven't changed their website yet to comply with the ruling).


Sofiya said...

Nooooo! I thought I was being all clever by buying bamboo towels, which are heavenly and soft and generally fabulous in every way, and now I find out I'm inadvertently polluting the environment. *sulk*

Mustang Sally said...

I KNOW! I feel so cheated. Now I keep thinking, "hmm... I bet there's going to be a lot in the sales bin after this. Would it be wrong to take advantage and buy them on clearance? Any environmental harm has already been done, and maybe I'd be saving some from the landfill."

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