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 Backcountry.com 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 Backcountry.com agreed to pay a penalty for selling and advertising rayon products as “bamboo,” and promised not to do it in the future.
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.