Is that gift really “green”? What to know about “bamboo”

Looking to be eco-friendly as you shop this holiday season? Maybe it’s bamboo socks from J.C. Penney or as stocking stuffers. Or those cute bamboo baby swaddles from buybuy BABY for your newborn niece. For your next holiday party, maybe those silky bamboo napkins from Bed Bath & Beyond, or that soft bamboo dress you’ve been eyeing from Nordstrom.

But wait a second. The FTC recently sued those retailers for selling products labeled or advertised as “bamboo.” Why? Because those products were actually made of rayon, according to the FTC, and calling them bamboo is wrong — and misleading. In settling those cases, Bed Bath & Beyond, Nordstrom, J.C. Penney, and agreed to pay a penalty for selling and advertising rayon products as “bamboo,” and promised not to do it in the future.

Example of misleading ad

Example of Misleading Ad

Here’s a clue — when it comes to soft “bamboo” textiles on the market, they’re actually rayon. Textiles made from bamboo feel rough. So if you’re shopping in a store and you feel an oh-so-soft product that's labeled or advertised as “bamboo,” you can tell that it’s rayon.

What else should you know as you shop? The process to make rayon fabrics is not environmentally friendly — it often involves harsh chemicals and releases pollutants into the air. Even when bamboo is the “plant source” used to create rayon, the finished product contains no trace of bamboo. So if “green” gifting is on your holiday checklist, “bamboo” clothing and textiles might not be the right choice. Check out our article on bamboo fabrics for more.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit



Why did you not divulge in your brief article the amouont the companies were penalized??? I ask not only to know the amount, but WHY you did not divulge it.

Follow the link in this sentence found in the second paragraph of this blog post to learn more about the FTC's complaints and proposed orders:

Note that the press release announces complaints and proposed court orders. Read the press release for more information.

Leave a Comment

Comment Policy

Read Our Privacy Act Statement

It is your choice whether to submit a comment. If you do, you must create a user name, or we will not post your comment. The Federal Trade Commission Act authorizes this information collection for purposes of managing online comments. Comments and user names are part of the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) public records system, and user names also are part of the FTC’s computer user records system. We may routinely use these records as described in the FTC’s Privacy Act system notices. For more information on how the FTC handles information that we collect, please read our privacy policy.