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Bamboo Fiber: Green Washing Or The Real Deal FTC Investigates

April 19, 2010
Green Living

If you have an understanding of abusive labeling in the organic and green industry it may not come to you as a surprise that a giant has been awakened! The Federal Trade Commission is actively investigating the claims that manufactures and dealers are making about organic bamboo products.

FTC says Claims of Organic Bamboo Fabrics are Misleading

A recent article in HFN magazine march 2010 issue says 78 U.S retailers and manufactures have received letters warning them about false claims and improper and incorrect or misleading labeling of bamboo products. The FTC says that the finished product is nothing more than a manufactured rayon product. It essentially is in no way shape or form still anything resembling the actual bamboo fiber even in microscopic form. STL Beds posted a blog on the subject of organic bamboo processing and has discussed this issue with many customers since researching the issue over a year ago when we became enlightened on the matter. Many people have come into our showroom asking for all bamboo mattresses, having claimed to have seen them at competing stores. Don’t get us wrong, there is a place in the market for bamboo. It is a great product. It is highly sustainable, breathable, and durable and we offer it in our showroom. However bamboo is what it is and calling it natural or organic in our opinion is a real stretch by the time it gets to the stores in the form of a fabric. I’d be curious if major retailers who were sent letters such as Wal-mart, JC Penny and others even know what the product really is or simply fast tracked to their shelves to hop on the green train express.

If there is anything the textile and bedding industries needs is a good enforceable set of standards. Get the cowboys out of the industry. Sadly much of the problem originates overseas beyond the reach of the FTC. Interestingly the same issue of standards is a huge problem with organic mattresses which can be made from organic resources like all natural latex rubber, cotton, and wool. Terms like organic, natural, and 100% are used with way too much liberty. At this very moment the specialty sleep assoc. has a committee trying to establish a set of industry wide standards for such terms and labels.

The bamboo issue is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to organic and all natural claims.

The USDA put a set of standards in place for food that we eat helping us distinguish what is certified organic, organic, and all natural. What would be interesting is to see organizations responsible for dealing with misleading claims like FTC or attorney generals, investigate one of our pet peeves which is thread count claims on bed sheets. Consumers have been sold the idea that all high thread count sheets are high quality and that the thread counts are always legitimate making it one of the best ways to compare quality sheets. That’s simply not always the case.  Just like the claims of certified organic bamboo, and organic bamboo sheets, clothing, etc. we don’t have to look far for misinformation because it is still alive and well in the retail environment. As a consumer you have to educate and protect yourself from opportunists’. Unfortunately we are all in the same boat and will have to sort through a lot of bull to get there.