by Doug Bancorn on August 21, 2009 · 22 comments

in Bamboo & The Environment,Bamboo Fabric,Biodegradation,FTC Allegations

silenceThe FTC recently accused four companies of making false and/or misleading claims about their bamboo textile products, possibly including bamboo sheets  or bamboo clothing.  There were three main *violations*, according to the FTC. Here are the FTC’s supposed *truths*:

A.    “Textile fiber products are not bamboo fiber, but instead are rayon, a regenerated cellulose fiber.”
B.    “Textile fiber products do not retain anti-microbial properties of the bamboo plant.”
C.    “Textile fiber products will not completely break down and return to nature, i.e., decompose into elements found in nature, within a reasonably short period of time after customary disposal because a substantial majority of total household waste is disposed of by methods that do not present conditions that would allow for Respondents’ textile fiber products to completely break down and return to nature, i.e., decompose into elements found in nature, within a reasonably short period of time.”

Let’s start with the first allegation: Bamboo cannot be a fiber. If bamboo is used to make a fiber, then it must be called viscose/rayon from bamboo.

Does this mean the FTC’s next target will be Entegrion from Research Triangle Park in North Carolina, whom the U.S. Navy just awarded a $4 million dollar contract for the development of critical blood products 2 weeks ago, making it the fourth major contract over the last six years? Entegrion’s success story with their Stasilon dressing (bandage) was initially created for the military in consultation with the U.S. Office of Naval Research, and has recently been approved by the FDA for consumer sales. This remarkable bandage is made from a combination of glass and bamboo fibers….yes, you heard that correctly…bamboo fibers…oops, were we suppose to say “rayon from bamboo”? Watch the Entegrion video and see for yourself the verbiage used by Dr. Peter Johnson, Medical Consultant for Entegrion. Or, you can read about the famous stasilon hemostatic bandage, how it works and what it’s made of.

The bottom line is that the FTC would have you believe very deceptive claims they have made by taking a shred of truth with no scientific evidence, then creating a consumer alert filled with their own “false marketing claims” when they are suppose to be protecting consumers from this very scam. They have taken the bamboo industry and smeared it across the internet with false allegations, just as they have done in past cases.

A perfect example of “stretching the truth” would be in regards to literally stating to consumers, and I quote the FTC, “But when it comes to soft bamboo textiles, like shirts or sheets, there’s a catch: they’re actually rayon.” Are they crazy? Did they define what rayon really is, or did they lead you to believe you have been completely duped?! Let us be the first to show you scientific proof that “bamboo rayon” and “traditional rayon” are a far cry from one another when it comes to their quality and characteristics.

The US system for characterizing fibers dates back almost a century and changes slowly so new fibers like Bamboo, take years and millions before a new classification is created. Until that happens, the fibers are grouped into the next closest thing, which for Bamboo happens to be viscose. Others products grouped into this category include fibers made from Soy, Corn, and Milk. Bamboo should have it’s own classification at some point, but until then it will be classified as man made and called viscose or rayon just like Modal, Cupro, Tencel, – all made with the viscose process.

The reality is that there is no past precedence set for the proper characterization of bamboo fabric. This is not uncommon with new products…be it a textile or otherwise. The FTC has independently decided that bamboo fabrics or fibers, cannot be referred to as “bamboo fiber” or “100% bamboo.” Instead, they have concluded that it has to be described as “viscose from bamboo” or “rayon from bamboo.” These are very recent developments, lest you think that this was some government issued criteria that was put in place years ago, it was not.

In any case…the significant factor here is that this FTC doctrine is a recent event. Prior to this, the U.S. Customs Department was allowing bamboo fiber to come into the country as just that…bamboo fiber. The FTC would have you believe that these companies engaged in malicious, deliberate and misleading descriptions of their products.

Nothing could be further from the truth. As an example…we decided just a few months ago, to put “viscose from bamboo” in our product descriptions. Did we do this because the FTC told us it was the only acceptable way to describe our products? No, we did it because we discovered in our research, that this was likely going to be a future requirement.

In the interest of full disclosure…I am not an employee of, and/or do not represent any of the four companies involved, but we do have a business relationship with one of them. I do not know all four owners, but I do know two of them, and I can attest to the fact that they would never intentionally put out false or misleading information about their products. They are not that type of businesspersons, and just aren’t that type of people…period.

The second allegation states that:  *Fibers from bamboo* do not have any anti-microbial properties.

Lest you think that because your government says so, it must be true, this would be naïve. There have been a handful of antimicrobial tests done that would say otherwise in Japan, China and the U.S. Another antimicrobial test was done on bamboo socks with fascinating results. The FTC was presented with such independent test data, and they refused to accept it or acknowledge it. Well, apparently they did look at one or more, and deemed them inconclusive. Not long after that…they began their current campaign which refutes any anti-microbial properties, while providing no test data of their own as evidence to back up their theory.

This is the FTC’s exact claim from their consumer alert…“There’s also no evidence that rayon made from bamboo retains the antimicrobial properties of the bamboo plant, as some sellers and manufacturers claim. Even when bamboo is the “plant source” used to create rayon, no traits of the original plant are left in the finished product.”

Karen Biers, a clothing and textiles specialist at the Utah State University provides information and an actual bamboo fabric case study to the contrary.

Remember Entegrion, the company contracted by the U.S. Navy who produced the Stasilon Wound Dressing consisting of Bamboo Fibers? Jeffrey Freeman, Vice President of Operations at Carolina Narrow Fabric Co., works directly with Entegrion in producing this product. Freeman stated, “The surface area of the fabric is primarily glass fiber, which does not absorb the blood but does help it to clot, and the bamboo weft yarn wicks the blood to the glass surface. He also pointed out bamboo’s antimicrobial properties as being important, but not as important as the clotting factor provided by the glass fiber.” You can view the full article at Textile World.

Want to do your own informal test? Wear your favorite cotton shirt for a week straight, and/or a pair of cotton socks for several days, and take note of any odiferous characteristics those items have afterward. Next, do the same test using bamboo socks and/or a bamboo t-shirt. I guarantee you that you will find a very noticeable difference between the two fabrics. This obviously does not provide us with scientific data, but until I have some actual test data in hand to publish for you, this is just one suggestion that may help you to draw your own conclusions, should you feel so inclined.

The third allegation deals with biodegradability. It states that: Textile fiber products will not completely break down and return to nature, i.e., decompose into elements found in nature, within a reasonably short period of time.

Ok, take a bamboo shirt and bury it in your backyard…just kidding. Seriously, though, in reading through the FTC’s actual complaints…I gleaned from it that if your bamboo textile goes to the landfill with the rest of your garbage…it won’t meet the criteria set forth for the definition of biodegradability. However, if it were put in a compost, it might meet the definition. Is everything that is advertised as biodegradable in line with this definition? I honestly don’t know. I do know, from a reliable source, that testing has shown that *fiber from bamboo* will–and does–meet the definition of biodegradability. Again, the FTC for some reason, is not interested in considering independent testing that contradicts their allegations.

The very definition of biodegradable is a process that stipulates no exact time frame…you can look this up for yourself. The problem is not in that businesses are misrepresenting their biodegradable products. The problem is that our government has yet to come up with a solution to solve our overabundance of trash that keeps being pumped into landfills…a place that can literally host a head of lettuce for 5 years and a hot dog for 15 years…as proven by Dr. William Rathje, who wrote the book “Rubbish”, and pioneered excavations on over 15 landfills throughout North America. In fact, most countries have regulations in place that do not even allow biodegradable materials to go into landfills. This begs the question, “are the business owners responsible for trying to produce eco-friendly and biodegradable products to help in this environmental fight for a greener earth…but are not allowed to claim their products are biodegradable…or is it time our government come up with a solution so that the very definition of biodegradable doesn’t become extinct?”

Perhaps you are familiar with the June, 2009 case of FTC against Kmart for marketing three different products that claim to be biodegradable? Once again, two of the three companies consented and settled with the FTC, probably because they did not want to go to battle in fear for their reputations being destroyed and publicized by the FTC. However, the third company, Dyna-E International decided to stand their ground and prove their Lightload brand of towels are in fact biodegradable. You can view their Lab Results (pdf download) and see for yourself that they are not only biodegradable in a “short time period” but also bring strong reference to “rayon” as being scientifically proven to have a short decomposition time. We are still awaiting the final verdict from the FTC on Dyna-E’s burden of proof.

I am not a conspiracy theorist–by any means. That said, though, when I see my government refusing to look at independent data that backs up facts contradicting their position, it gives me pause, and forces me to ask why?

There are certainly some big players in the textile industry that would not–and do not–want bamboo to continue to grow in popularity the way that it has over the last few years. Without regard to the “eco-friendly” issue, bamboo fabric is hugely superior to cotton, and anyone that owns bamboo clothing or bedding, will attest to this.

Here is an interesting quote: “The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) acted wantonly, oppressively, vexatiously and in bad faith in prosecuting claims against Mark O. Haroldsen.” That is some pretty harsh language.

The 2003 Haroldsen case was ruled on by the United States District Court for Utah. The interesting fact is, that most small businesses can not afford to take on the FTC, and their only alternative is to comply with whatever the totalitarian-like organization stipulates the business must change about their product descriptions.

The compliance order is typically followed up with a gag order, preventing the company from even being able to defend itself. In this case, though, the judge found that the FTC was grossly inept when it came to providing any evidence at all to support their claims.

Because of the FTC’s ineptness, the judge ordered them to pay $190,000 in attorney fees. Unfortunately, the judge’s award was grossly inadequate when it came to covering all of Haroldsen’s trial expenses and his lost income due to the damage the FTC did to his business reputation.

Here is another quote: “It is in the public interest to dispose of this matter expeditiously.” This statement was accompanied by a three-inch thick consent agreement, and the FTC required that the company keep the FTC fully informed of all their business activities for the next 20 years. Additionally, the FTC demanded that the company hand over its entire customer database.

These are just some of the initial demands put forth by the FTC, in the hopes that the company would not fight it, no doubt. The company…SOTA, chronicled their experience with the FTC. Incidentally, after about 18 months of defending themselves… SOTA emerged victorious.

As a side note: The FTC has dedicated a lot of time and resources to their bamboo witch hunt, which is full of ambiguity, semantics, and an unwillingness to even look at the facts. All the while…there are thousands of websites in many different genres, that are duping U.S. citizens.

One website genre that comes to mind are sites that promise that “working from home” will give you financial freedom and/or you’ll become wealthy. Hell, I talked to someone a few weeks ago that thought they had gotten a job with Google.

The site that they signed up with, and sent money too, had made themselves appear to be a division of Google. I know, it sounds ridiculous, but some of these sites employ expert marketers and copywriters…and often dupe people of average intelligence, that just aren’t that internet savvy. It actually took me about 10 minutes to convince this person that it was just a scam.

injusticeIn the bamboo case, we feel the FTC has done a grave injustice to the bamboo textile industry by presenting claims to the public without providing any evidence to back up their “theories.”  They’re also stomping on the little guys who cannot afford to stand up for themselves in a court of law. And, while unemployed American citizens are looking to the internet for ways to earn income–and are being robbed of what little money they have–the FTC is busy making unsubstantiated claims against honest business owners who are providing jobs for American people.

But don’t take our word for it, see what judges have to say on previous FTC cases where the FTC took it just a little too far in tarnishing reputations and making false allegations.

LA Talk Radio speaks out about the FTC’s ulterior motives on “Green & Easy Living” with Rhonda, joined by Bryan Harris of Bamboo Provisions – Kane`ohe. This is about an hour segment but so worth listening to.

More posts and information coming soon, so stay tuned…tweet about it…spread the word…and by all means, leave a comment.

Related Posts:
Sami Designs Wrongly Accused by FTC
FTC Claims Fruits and Vegetables Are Not Biodegradable
Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Discredits Itself – includes an in depth list of previous cases the FTC lost by court order due to gross negligence
FTC Claims Bamboo and Rayon Are One in The Same
FTC’s Bamboo Smear Campaign Riddled with Deception – includes a full response to the FTC’s claims from Mo at the M Group (Bamboosa)
Study of Antimicrobial Behavior of Socks from Bamboo Fibers

{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

1 vtknitboy August 21, 2009 at 9:01 pm

it would make more sense to wear 1 bamboo sock & one cotton sock at the same time (on different feet) so that they are encountering the same heat/temp/dampness/humidity, etc. wearing cotton socks one week and bamboo socks the next will result in different criteria and conditions!

2 admin August 21, 2009 at 9:09 pm

Excellent point! Great suggestion…thanks for that!

3 Doug August 21, 2009 at 9:36 pm

Hey Chris,
Brilliant mate. I suppose it only appropriate that I relinquish myself proclaimed genius status, and pass the torch to you.

4 Brett September 5, 2009 at 4:17 pm

I’ve heard claims that the process used to turn bamboo into a textile employs “harsh chemicals.” While cotton farming uses too much water, some nasty herbicides and petroleum-based fertilizer, I’m not sure trading it in for a material that leaves us with tons of noxious chemicals leaching out of our landfills or being dumped directly into our groundwater is a step up. What are the chemicals involved? What kind of processing does it take to transform bamboo into thread? How much water is used? Can we compare apples to apples with cotton?

5 Doug September 6, 2009 at 2:31 pm

Hey Brett,

Thanks for your questions.
The main chemicals used are sodium hydroxide and carbon disulphide. Both are strong chemicals but if used and disposed of properly they present no serious risk to people or to the environment. The technology and equipment used in China at Hebei Jigao Fiber Co (Hebei supplies 90% o the bamboo fiber that makes its way to the U.S.) is modern and designed to limit waste and pollution. All of their fiber is tested and passes the Oeko Tex 100 standard . That certification states that there are no residual chemicals that would be harmful to human health, including babies. Basically, the fiber is chemical free after production.
The chemicals are not being dumped into a water supply or a landfill. It is not a 100% closed loop system, but it is in the companies’ best interest to recycle and reuse the chemicals and/or the water, used in production.
F.Y.I.- Sodium hydroxide is commonly used in the production of organic cotton too.

As for water usage…if you factored in the water and power usage from raw plant to finished fiber….cotton production requires much, much greater resources, with regard to water usage and power consumption. Part of this is due to the naturally occurring cuticle wax that has to be removed from cotton (otherwise it would not be very absorbent).

As far as apples to apples…they are really two different animals, from raw plant too finished fiber, they are very different. I am not qualified to give you specific breakdowns on the numbers for carbon footprint, and environmental ramifications. What I can say is–From all of my research, there is no doubt in my mind, that bamboo is much more sustainable and has much less negative effects on the environment as a whole…when compared to cotton.

Oh, and it really is a far superior end product…as anyone who has tried bamboo sheets or bamboo clothing, would likely tell you. It’s just much softer than cotton and it handles moisture brilliantly.



6 Meg September 22, 2009 at 2:33 pm

I don’t see what your t-shirt test is supposed to prove. If you’re saying that bamboo cloth is different than rayon, that is has special anti-bacterial properties, then why would you be testing it against COTTON? Shouldn’t you be testing it against RAYON?

I love bamboo cloth. I have bamboo sheets. But I also have modal sheets that I love and they seem pretty similar to me — which isn’t a bad thing so long as things aren’t being marketed dishonestly. But nowhere in this article do I get a clear picture of how bamboo is all that different from rayon. So, frankly, I’m still unconvinced.

7 Doug September 22, 2009 at 2:59 pm

When talking about t shirts, by and large…the biggest player out there is cotton. Most people can relate to it, because they already own cotton t shirts, or cotton sheets.
I myself, have owned rayon shirts in the past, of the button up variety. My experience was that they seemed to increase my body temperature, and caused excessive sweat. Maybe it was just me? I can only say that I did not find it to be an appealing fabric, and I stopped wearing and/or purchasing rayon, a long time ago.

Fabric from bamboo as the source material…is deemed rayon, by the FTC. That’s fine, I’m not even going to go there. But I will say that my experience with *rayon* from bamboo…is completely different than my experience with traditional rayon products.

Again, I think most people already own cotton socks, shirts etc. So it made sense to compare bamboo to cotton. If you were to wear a cotton sock on one foot, for a week – While wearing a bamboo sock on the other foot, for that same week…I think you would agree that there is certainly something present in the bamboo socks, that keep your feet dry, and inhibit the unpleasant odor that would likely be present in a cotton sock, particularly after an extended period.

As for modal, I have not tried it, but I will take your word for it…that it’s a nice fabric.

As soon as we are able to obtain any reliable studies, and/or scientific data…that specifically illustrates how traditional rayon differs from bamboo rayon, then we will make it available.

Thanks for your comments

8 Meg September 22, 2009 at 3:25 pm

Well, it doesn’t really matter what people have the most of, though*if* the point is to prove that bamboo is somehow different and even better than rayon. If so, then it should be tested against rayon. If that wasn’t the point, then I misunderstood.

And perhaps it IS rayon, but still a better variety of it in some ways. I can’t say I have experience with many kinds of rayon, only bamboo and modal. They do seem very similar which doesn’t seem to disprove the FTC. However, I do like both fabrics. They aren’t the greenest when it comes to processing, but then even organic cotton can be made very ungreenly and I think the best thing to do is to buy fewer things but to keep for longer periods — something that isn’t necessarily fabric specific.

However, I have seen *some* companies really promoting bamboo fabric as a very green, “all natural” fabric and I think that really, really stretches the limits of the word “natural” — which is a word already stretched to being practically meaningless.

In any case, thank you for your response!

9 Doug September 22, 2009 at 7:29 pm

Hey Meg,

Yes, there can be a very significant difference between rayon from bamboo and rayon from trees. I’ll go an extreme, merely to make the point.
Exhibit A: 10,000 Sets of bed sheets made from bamboo as the source material.
Exhibit B: 10,000 Sets of bed sheets made from Honduras Rosewood trees as the source material.

A – Comes from one of the most abundant plant resources on the planet. B – Comes from an endangered species of tree.

Which would you rather see being produced? Yes, that is an unrealistic example, but I am just trying to make the point. All rayon is not created equal, and for someone that is interested in buying “green”, I would think that the source of the material would be a significant factor, would it not?

Like I stated before…I do believe that there is a significant difference between rayon from bamboo and rayon from traditional sources (trees).
I have antimicrobial lab test results (from a reputable lab that specifically does antimicrobial testing)….with bamboo-rayon/viscose fabric, cotton, and traditional rayon/viscose. The results do show a very different reactions to two different common bacteria. The bamboo had a very significant bacteria kill rate, and yes, it was dramatically more than the traditional rayon/viscose.

Unfortunately, I am told by a “forensic textile expert”, that such a test needs to be done by a University, and/or be peer reviewed, and published in a scientific journal…before it could be accepted as scientific proof. For that reason, and because I am not the actual person that paid to have the test done, I am not publishing those results.

The bottom line is that most of us are honest in our advertising, and copy. We have plenty of information on our site…that tells people about the manufacturing process. We have no interest putting out false or misleading information. Yes, some website’s do, I have seen them first hand, but that does not translate into – All bamboo retailers are looking to mislead consumers.
I’m happy to tell people that, if you want to make the “greenest” choice for clothing, wear some of the 80% of the clothes that are hanging in your closet, that you don’t currently wear. Or, go buy your clothes at a thrift store.
The truth is, the majority of our customers don’t even buy bamboo sheets or a bamboo shirt because it is “eco-friendly”, they buy it because someone they know told them how soft it is, and/or how well it seemed to wick moisture, etc.
Beyond that, I can only tell you what my personal experience is with traditional rayon, and bamboo rayon.

10 Gary November 12, 2009 at 1:35 pm

I’ve sold bamboo textiles in my store from 2 companies. The stated difference between their process in breaking down bamboo fiber was that they used a “natural enzyme” not the more widely used chemical treatment. This process took longer but wasn’t as harsh on the fiber and non-toxic. Also, they used a “closed loop” system of pools with natural filtration techniques such as aquatic plants that did such a thorough job that they were able to re-use the water. True? Or am I misunderstanding something.

11 Doug Bancorn November 12, 2009 at 3:42 pm

I prefer not to speak directly to the claims of a 3rd party…that I am not intimately familiar with. That said, I will give you my take on the state of the production for the vast majority of bamboo textiles on the market, here in the states…

To the best of my knowledge there does not exist – a manufacturer of bamboo fiber…that uses the common “rayon-like” process, and uses a natural enzyme in that
The “mechanical” method certainly uses natural enzymes. However, it is highly unlikely that you are procuring “mechanical” made bamboo fiber/fabric. If you were…you would notice a huge difference in the fabric hand. Mechanical bamboo is quite “scratchy”, and much more akin to linen than to the soft bamboo fabric that we all know and love.

If there is no discernible difference between the hand of the two different products that you are purchasing, then it is safe to say that your “enzyme” claiming vendor is not being truthful with you.

The process, when employed by responsible manufacturers, is much less ecologically unfriendly than most people think.
For example – Our suppliers do use a closed loop system (it’s approx 98%), and employ water filtration methods. In addition to the ecological and human factor, it just makes good business sense to reuse the chemicals as much as possible. Also, sodium hydroxide is far from the monster that it is portrayed as. It is even used in food processing. You can learn more about it here: Is Bamboo Eco-Friendly It’s about the 7th paragraph down on the page.

We make every effort to keep abreast of the most current information on bamboo fiber and its processing methods. If there is a manufacturer using natural enzymes in place of these other chemicals…well, that would be news to me and the people that I talk to regularly, in this industry.

Thanks for your question Mark, and I hope that helps, somewhat?


12 John November 13, 2009 at 1:11 pm

After reading the thread, I need to add my two cents on bamboo. My comments are based on my experience not only wearing the clothes and sleeping on the sheets, but from several years working with the plants themselves.”Yes, installing, removing, maintaining and researching”

Despite what the FTC has claimed about bamboo, the product speaks for itself. Doug, has made some amazing points about how the fabric is made and I think the (closed loop) system should be heavily emphasized!! As Doug noted, there is factual evidence that the material does retain it’s antimicrobial properties once processed. “Keep in mind, many materials are currently impregnated with things like silver, to provide antimicrobial benefits.”
….Think about it…. the antimicrobial properties are inherent to the plant…

In reality almost every so-called green product out there has weak spot and marketing spin. The fact is that (good people) make the effort and take the initiative to educate the customer. On the Flip side you have (The Green Bandwagon), which consists of people who have the sole focus of making a profit off anything they can deem green.

Let’s not forget the complete life cycle…. Bamboo promotes up to 35% more oxygen into the atmosphere than an equivalent stand of trees. Managed bamboo plantations are even more efficient. Bamboo can be harvested on a sustainable rotation and unlike most competitors the root system of bamboo remains intact when the canes are harvested. That said, it continues to build a carbon sink, where as trees and cotton require re-planting. When the root system of a plant dies the carbon sink is slowly released back into the atmosphere. Bamboos interwoven root system, has many other attributes including erosion control and the ability to uptake various chemicals from the ground. When the end product is a useable item like clothing, you are completing the life cycle in one of the most efficient ways possible. Albeit, improvements can always be made…
“PS..what took so long for the cotton industry to consider organic cotton???”

The USDA has studies on bamboo dating back to the 1950′s. Everything you will read on the research that has been done is positive. The common problem……. availability.

I’m sure if we had thousands of acres of established Moso growing throughout the South Eastern U.S. I’m certain the large U.S. based cotton companies would have a different opinion.

Don’t believe everything you read and make your own informed decision.
Doug, great work!!

13 Sara November 24, 2009 at 4:08 pm

Keep shoveling the *&^% as long as it makes you a buck. Have you visited the factory in China with such high standards? Nope. Do you really know if the bamboo used is organic? Maybe it was cut down by women and children on the side of a mountain. Hard to tell since it is a commodity and the amount used for all those yoga pants far exceeds the total “organic” crop.

That’s before you even get to thee fact that bamboo is a weak and cheap man made fiber that is only sold at a premium because of the baseless eco friendly claims. It is one thing to have been misinformed in the beginning by the whole anecdotal bamboo is good so bamboo fiber must be good; Bamboo has antibacterial properties so bamboo fiber must be antibacterial…

Now that this is debunked it is just plain dishonest to keep arguing against it. Finally the FTC has paid attention and consumers who do not have the time to search out the truth will maybe be protected.

14 Doug Bancorn November 24, 2009 at 5:04 pm

Well Sara…it sounds like you have some anger issues. If you want to engage in a dialogue on an issue, it would behoove you to get yourself some learning on the topic before spouting off with nonsensical gibberish, ya know?

There are volumes of information on this blog that substantiate the views that you disagree with. The information comes from reputable 3rd party sources, as well. But, I suspect that you have not read any of it, or anything else for that matter….other than the rehashed articles that people use to fill their websites with content.

My daddy once told me…”Don’t get into a battle of wits with an unarmed person”. I will head that warning, and ask that you come back after you have got yourself some learning :)

15 Sara November 24, 2009 at 5:14 pm

I work in China consulting on textile productions. Worked with Bamboo Viscose fiber since 2002. Stopped working with it in 2005 because:
1) The only factory refused visits – state secrets was the reason.
2) Source of bamboo could never be verified.
3) Bamboo has a very poor wet tensile strength. Unless blended with cotton will fall apart in the dye wash. Even with cotton will still degrade much faster than other fibers = not sustainable.
4) Repeated tests in textile departments of US universities and independent labs have repeatedly debunked the antibacterial claim. Sure you could claim some old inconclusive Japanese study confirms your claims. Luckily FTC does not work that way.
5) a man made chemical fiber can never ever be called organic.
6) Oekotex 100 standard has nothing to do with sustainable, organic, natural or otherwise. It only tests the post processing.
7) Bamboo Viscose is cheap cheap cheap. Cheaper than conventional cotton. These green manufacturers are deceiving consumers for profit.

16 Corey Lynn November 26, 2009 at 2:02 pm


Before I get into your 7 points, first I would like to address your opening sentence in your previous post…”Keep shoveling the *&^% as long as it makes you a buck.” First off, that’s just plain rude. If you knew anything about us, you would know that we are NOT just about the buck and if we were, we certainly would not have posted your comments here.

1) I am not going to pretend to know what your business entailed in the textile industry, so I cannot comment as to why you were not allowed to visit the factory. That said, both of our suppliers visit the factory a few times a year and have seen the full operation first hand. This is 100% fact.
2) I’m not sure why you claim the source of bamboo could not be verified in your case, because in our case, the actual bamboo farms have been OCIA certfied organic. The bamboo itself has been USDA certified organic. And, the fiber has been FSC chain of custody certified from the forest to the consumer.
3) Interesting statement regarding the need to blend bamboo with cotton or it will otherwise fall apart. Being as I sleep on 100% viscose from bamboo sheets on a nightly basis, which have long stood the test of time, I beg to differ. I am not sure where you are obtaining this information in your 3 years being a “textile consultant”, but I believe if you had actually worn or slept on 100% viscose from bamboo, you would not be making such a statement.
4) You state that there have been repeated tests done on the antimicrobial effects by U.S. universities and independent labs. Why have we not seen any of these published in scientific journals? Why has the FTC not come forward with these tests as evidence to back up their theory? And why, after hundreds of hours of research dedicated strictly to acquiring test results on this subject, have we not found a single one debunking the antimicrobial properties in “viscose from bamboo”?
5) This one we agree on. To clarify, the bamboo itself is organic and the fiber comes from an organic source…an organic source that far surpasses that of any other in our humble opinion.
6) We never said otherwise. In fact, if you actually took the time to review our blog and all of our fact sections, you would see that we make all of this quite clear.
7) What is cheap to one may be worth a million dollars to another Sara…it’s all a matter of perspective and desire. Whereas I would disagree with you in regards to just how cheap it is from harvesting to final product, it’s really all a matter of what a consumer feels they are willing to pay for a product that they love. And it seems to me that consumers are loving their bamboo. Take diamonds for example…supposedly diamonds are a girls best friend…not to me. I wouldn’t pay a nickle for a diamond ring because I don’t appreciate them the way others do and therefore find them ghastly expensive and overrated. And you can bet your bottom dollar there is a huge markup in that industry, as in with numerous others.

To sum this up, we are all entitled to our own opinions, but I believe the facts speak for themselves and you are barking up the wrong tree.

17 Sonja June 30, 2010 at 7:00 am

Thank you Corey for continuing to fight this battle. We should join efforts!

18 Jeanne August 9, 2010 at 5:20 pm

I just have a question and it could be a stupid one but I bought 100% Bamboo sheets, these sheets are the BEST sheets I have ever owned they are the most luxurious thing I own but what is the difference of 100% bamboo sheets and Rayon of Bamboo sheets?

Thanks for answering my stupid question and as far as Sara goes, I don’t think she liked her 3 yr position in the textile business and maybe that is why she is not in it anymore or maybe because she is so angry that is why they didn’t want her in it anymore!!

19 Doug Bancorn August 11, 2010 at 5:43 pm


“bamboo sheets” and “viscose or rayon from bamboo” sheets are the same thing. It is simply a case of the bamboo textile products being designated “bamboo” this or that, for the first 5 yrs or so out in the market. Then, last year our FTC stepped in and mandated that we all market bamboo textile products as viscose/rayon from bamboo.
Thanks for your question,


20 Ann September 14, 2010 at 1:58 pm


I agree with you on all points, but would like to add some data that I found during my research for my previous employeer. I lived in China from 2003-2007 and worked with textile.

1. Yes, visiting rights are limited. I was lucky to have a long meeting with a specilist within the area of regenerated fibres which has visited several plants. The facitilites are making Rayon / Viscose from Bamboo, with old equipment. I hope things has changed since then.
2. I think the origin of wood in China is a problem, in general. The right source to find the facts from would be: http://www.fscus.org/
3. Regenerated Bamboo does not have a good life cycle assessment. Wet strenght is low, that is easy to find in a testprotocoll which many publish on their websites that are selling bamboorayon.
4. There is ONE chinese study on mechanical processed bamboo which has interesting facts, it was published in Textile Asia, 2005 or 2006. This does not apply to bamboo rayon.
5. A better fibre is Lyocell, where the producer tells the fact and the fabric is great.
6. Apply for oekotex 1000 for bamboo-rayon, that would be impressive!
7. Bamboo rayon has a low price. Mechanical bamboo can be 10 times more expensive than cotton. Lyocell a modern regenereated and please try it, it would be better for the environment short term and longterm. Read more at http://www.lenzing.com

If you like Bamboorayon you would LOVE LYOCELL

Note: I do not work for Lenzing or other companies related to this. I write this for the environment and my newly born babys future.

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