Monday, April 27, 2009

Bamboo rayon, continued

Mo Saintsing of Bamboosa replied to my Earth Day post about bamboo rayon, pointing out -- quite correctly -- that Bamboosa has taken the high road on producing and marketing bamboo apparel. I've given them a hat-tip in the past and wish more companies would follow their lead. I do still wish they would use the FTC terminology for their fibers, just for the sake of clarity and because it's the right (and legal!) thing to do. The FTC is apparently not about to enforce of the Textile Fiber Products Labeling Act, because, as their representative said last summer, "it's not a rollover issue", i.e., no one is dying.

Here's the issue for me: there are scores of companies out there who do NOT use certified organic bamboo (if they did, wouldn't they say so?) and who AREN'T working with fiber producers to minimize the environmental impact of growing and processing bamboo into viscose rayon. They are not only competing with ethical producers, they are sowing the seeds of consumer backlash when the bamboo boom goes bust. Yesterday I saw a shampoo that featured green tea and bamboo among the ingredients, with all the usual claims for both (antioxident! antibacterial!).

Bamboosa's clothing may look, feel and wear better than most rayon, but if someone buys someone else's shirt first and it behaves like inexpensive rayon instead of the miracle fabric they thought they just paid a premium for, they will associate that outcome with bamboo. I have purchased and tested bamboo and bamboo-blend socks, towels, yarn and a T-shirt, and my samples behaved like rayon. The socks and T-shirt pilled, the towels shrank alarmingly and the yarn and T-shirt lost some elasticity and their silk-like hand.

For the time-being, the environmentally-conscious fashion consumer is on her own. There are standards and certifications, but right now the market is flooded with new "green" materials that ignore those standards, beginning with the FTC textile regulations. I prefer to do business with companies who treat me with respect and give me facts. Finding "rayon from bamboo" on the label is a step towards winning my trust.



2 comments:

Mo said...

Jo,

I just wanted to clarify that in August of 2008, after a conversation with you about labeling, Bamboosa changed all of our content labeling to conform with the FTC standards. Anywhere we use fiber that has bamboo as it's source we identify that fiber as 'viscose from bamboo'.

It sounded as though you may have thought that we were still not labeling our product correctly.

Thanks,

Mo

Jo said...

All I did was recheck your web site, Mo.