Is that really bamboo fabric that you are wearing?
When processed into fiber or yarn mechanically-processed bamboo requires no chemicals harmful to workers or the environment and maintains its inherently anti-bacterial properties. Environmentally friendly, bamboo-based fabrics have a luxurious softness often compared with cashmere.
If you make, advertise or sell bamboo-based textiles, the Federal Trade Commission, the nation’s consumer protection agency, wants you to know that unless a product is made directly with bamboo fiber — often called “mechanically processed bamboo” — it can’t be called bamboo. Indeed, to advertise or label a product as “bamboo,” you need competent and reliable evidence, such as scientific tests and analyses, to show that it’s made of actual bamboo fiber.
The FTC sued several companies in the past for allegedly selling products labeled or advertised as “bamboo” that in reality were made of rayon. Rayon is a man-made fiber created from the cellulose found in plants and trees and processed with harsh chemicals that release hazardous air pollution. Any plant or tree – including bamboo – could be used as the cellulose source, but the fiber that is created is rayon.
Using a process similar to the one that produces linen from flax, bamboo fibers are raked and combed into long strands, thereby preserving their anti-bacterial and anti fungal characteristics. The fibers are then drawn out and spun into a yarn that is silky smooth to the touch.
There are two ways of commercially processing the bamboo plant to create yarn and fabric. The first is a mechanical process, creating what is informally called bamboo linen, and the second, more popular approach, is the chemical process used for producing rayon or viscose fabric.
Learn more about bamboo fiber.
The following article was posted in August 2009 on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
How to Avoid Bamboozling Your Customers
Marketers looking to provide more environmentally friendly choices to consumers may have heard about bamboo, which has been recognized for its ability to grow quickly with little or no need for pesticides. But when it comes to textile products made from bamboo, that’s not the whole story.
The truth is, most “bamboo” textile products, if not all, really are rayon, which typically is made using environmentally toxic chemicals in a process that emits hazardous pollutants into the air. While different plants, including bamboo, can be used as a source material to create rayon, there’s no trace of the original plant in the finished rayon product.
If you make, advertise or sell bamboo-based textiles, the Federal Trade Commission, the nation’s consumer protection agency, wants you to know that unless a product is made directly with bamboo fiber — often called “mechanically processed bamboo” — it can’t be called bamboo. Indeed, to advertise or label a product as “bamboo,” you need competent and reliable evidence, such as scientific tests and analyses, to show that it’s made of actual bamboo fiber. Relying on other people’s claims isn’t substantiation. The same standard applies to other claims, like a claim that rayon fibers retain natural antimicrobial properties from the bamboo plant.
If you sell clothing, linens, or other textile products, you’re responsible for making truthful disclosures about the fiber content. If your product isn’t made directly of bamboo fiber — but is a manufactured fiber for which bamboo was the plant source — it should be labeled and advertised using the proper generic name for the fiber, such as rayon, or “rayon made from bamboo.”
Any claims you make about your textile products have to be true and cannot be misleading. As the seller, you must have substantiation for each and every claim — express and implied — that you make.
For More Information For more information on advertising and labeling rayon and other textile products, see Threading Your Way Through the Labeling Requirements Under the Textile and Wool Acts. For guidance on making environmental marketing claims, see Complying with the Environmental Marketing guides. These and other guides for business are at business.ftc.gov.