Don't be bamboozled!The vast majority of bamboo clothing is grown sustainably but is not organic. Chemicals are added in the manufacturing process as bamboo is broken into bits and reconstructed. Unless you're wearing long fiber bamboo clothing, anyone who says that your bamboo is "green" is taking you for a ride. Bamboo production releases harsh chemicals into our atmosphere.
Long Fiber Bamboo
Bamboo companies have already been formally charged with making false claims regarding their "environmentally friendly" processes. Bamboo companies have even claimed that bamboo, like hemp, is naturally anti-microbial. This is true, but due to the noxious production process, who wants it?!
Three bamboo companies -- Sami Designs (alias Jonano), CSE (alias Mad Mod) and Pure Bamboo, LLC have settled with the FTC. They've agreed to stop making false claims and to abide by the Commissions Textile Fiber Products Identification Act (Textile Act) and Rules. Litigation continues against The M Group, Inc. (a.k.a. Bamboosa) and its principals.
With the tremendous expansion of green claims in today's marketplace, it's especially important that the FTC helps consumers sort fact from fiction and choose products that truly have the organic, environmentally-friendly qualities they seek.
As the Commission charges, even if the rayon used in the companies clothing and textile products is manufactured using bamboo as the cellulose source, rayon does not retain any natural antimicrobial properties of the bamboo plant. The rayon manufacturing process, which involves dissolving the plant source in harsh chemicals, eliminates any such natural properties of the bamboo plant. Similarly, the Commission charges that the companies clothing and textiles are not made using an environmentally friendly process.
The rayon manufacturing process uses toxic chemicals and results in the emission of hazardous air pollutants. And, despite the claims of Pure Bamboo and Bamboosa, the Commission charges that these rayon products are not biodegradable because they will not break down in a reasonably short time after customary disposal. Most clothing and textiles are disposed of either by recycling or sending to a landfill. Neither method results in quick biodegradation.
The complaints also charge these four companies with violating the Textile Act and Rules by, among other things, falsely and deceptively labeling and advertising their clothing and textile products as bamboo, when they should be labeled and advertised as rayon. The FTC also charges three of the companies Jonano, Mad Mod, and Pure Bamboo with violating the Textile Act and Rules by advertising or labeling their products without disclosing where the products were manufactured.
Jonano, Mad Mod, and Pure Bamboo have agreed to settlements that will ensure they use the proper names to label and advertise the fibers in their products and do not violate the Textile Act and Rules in the future.
The settlements bar these companies from claiming that any textile product: is made of bamboo or bamboo fiber; is manufactured using an environmentally friendly process; or is antimicrobial or retains the anti-microbial properties of the product from which it is made, unless the claims are true, not misleading, and substantiated by competent and reliable scientific evidence. Pure Bamboo is further barred from claiming its products are biodegradable, unless the claim is true, not misleading, and substantiated by reliable and competent scientific evidence. The settlements also bar the three companies from making any claims about the benefits, performance, or efficacy of any clothing or textile product they sell, unless the claims are true, not misleading, and substantiated by competent and reliable evidence.
The proposed orders do allow the companies to describe their products as rayon made from bamboo, as long as this is true and can be substantiated.
The Commissions administrative complaint against The M Group, Inc., d/b/a Bamboosa, and its principals was issued on August 7, 2009.
New Information for Business and Consumers
The FTC has a new publication designed to help businesses selling clothing and textile products that are labeled as bamboo to market their products in ways that are truthful, non-deceptive, and in compliance with the law. Avoid Bamboo-zling Your Customers, can be found on the Commissions Web site at ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/business/alerts/alt172.shtm, and provides useful information on how to correctly label and advertise textiles that are rayon made from bamboo. The Commission also has a new alert entitled "Have You Been Bamboozled by Bamboo Fabrics? that provides useful information for consumers shopping for bamboo-based fabrics. It can be found on the FTCs Web site at http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/alerts/alt160.shtm.