Bamboo, and be careful what you believe
I’ve wanted to post about Bamboo for a while, but I knew just enough to be dangerous, and not enough to write a fully-educated post about it. Bamboo is, essentially, Rayon. Rayon is a funny fabric – it starts as something natural (trees, or bamboo) but goes through so much processing that it pretty much loses most of the properties of the material it started out as. And this processing is highly toxic. So, Bamboo, like other rayons, is not the eco-super-fabric it’s often portrayed as, particularly in the Cloth diapering community.
So as I’ve been mulling over how to post this without making everyone say “oh, yeah, prove it” and me being all “um, I can’t,” the wonderful Kathleen over at Fashion Incubator comes through again with her recent blog post all about Bamboo fabrics.
The FTC is concerned that consumers are being misled by greenwashing. Although rayon is a natural but man made fabric, rayon production is highly toxic (Avtex, the largest EPA Super Fund clean up site was a rayon plant). …
Claims of bamboo superiority are widespread on the internet and must be critically considered. For example, one site attempts to make the case for bamboo (rayon) by comparing it to cotton when a fairer comparison is to compare bamboo rayon to regular rayon. In truth, the only advantage appears to be that bamboo is quickly replenished but caveats (below) abound. Regardless, this advantage is comparatively negligible because regular rayon is made of wood recycled from lumber processing. Another site bolsters their claims of bamboo’s lower toxic load by employing a bait and switch, launching into a description of the lyocell process that is not (yet) used in bamboo rayon production. Unless one reads carefully, one can be easily misled to believe bamboo rayon production is less toxic and superior to regular rayon or cotton production and this has yet to be proven.
You really should go read the rest of her post. If you’re not a manufacturer, you have my permission to skip over the parts about labeling.