Friday, July 4, 2008

Free conference on green building and textiles: consumer clarity on bamboo at last?

A friend alerted me to this opportunity:

The Federal Trade Commission is planning to host a public workshop on
July 15, 2008, to examine developments in green building and textiles
claims and consumer perception of such claims.

This is a FREE workshop, scheduled from 9-5 on July 15 in Washington DC, and also via live webcast.

Registration for the DC workshop and additional details are available here.

The FTC oversees consumer protection from fraud, false claims and unsafe products, and is the agency behind the labels you find in your clothing (fiber, care, country of origin). A complete resource list of statutes, rules and other information is available on the FTC website.

I am attending the workshop because of my concerns about greenwashing in the fashion industry, particularly the use of "100% bamboo" in labels. The Textile Fiber Products Identification Act requires that "fibers, whether natural or man-made, must be identified by their generic names". Since most bamboo yarn is created using a viscose process, that would logically suggest that the correct (and honest) label would be "x% rayon", perhaps with the additional notation that it was made from bamboo, as opposed to wood pulp, cotton waste, or some other form of cellulose.

Why does it matter? Because viscose production is very, very NOT eco-friendly. Although rayon manufacture went offshore decades ago, a search on "EPA superfund viscose" will show you that its legacy of polluted ground water lives on. And if you are at all concerned about environmental justice, and not just your own back yard, the "offshoreness" of viscose production should be cold comfort.


Laurie said...

Well....crap. I *like* rayon. Is there any that is NOT unfriendly?

Jo Paoletti said...

I like rayon, too. I love the hand, and the fact that it's made from a renewable resource. But rayon production is a serious health problem for the people who produce it and for the regions where it is produced, so it poses an ethical challenge for me. My preference is for lyocell, based on the information available to me. (If it helps, lyocell is identical to rayon chemically, but it is more environmentally friendly). And vintage rayon -- in fact, used ANYTHING -- is better than something new!

Jo Paoletti said...
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