Eco-fashion is the clothing industry's way of acknowledging the benefits of environmentally safe, chemical-free manufacturing and cultivation, and materials like organic cotton, hemp, and bambnoo have been introduced into the mainstream quickly by retailers that want a piece of the green action.
However, in their haste to capitalize on the recent interest in environmentally-friendly clothing, some retailers have been taking advantage of the public's lack of knowledge about this industry.
Seventy-eight nationally known companies, including Wal-mart, Target, Amazon.com, The Gap, and Zappos.com, received Federal Trade Commission letters warning that they may be breaking the law by selling clothing and other textile products that are labeled and advertised as "bamboo," but actually are made of manufactured rayon fiber, according to a recent press release.
"We need to make sure companies use proper labeling and advertising in their efforts to appeal to environmentally conscious consumers," said David C. Vladeck, Director of the agency's Bureau of Consumer Protection. "Rayon is rayon, even if bamboo has been used somewhere along the line in the manufacturing process."
The press release goes on to explain the process for manufacturing rayon, which is considered to be a man-made fiber even though it is created with plant based fibers. Cellulose found in plants and trees is processed with harsh chemicals that release hazardous air pollution. Any plant or tree – including bamboo – could be used as the cellulose source, but the fiber that is created is rayon and should not be considered environmentally-friendly.
A complete list of the companies sent warning letters can be found on the FTC's web site.
This announcement comes on the heels of four FTC enforcement actions brought against companies selling rayon products that were misleadingly labeled and advertised as "bamboo fiber," "ecoKashmere," "Pure Bamboo," "Bamboo Comfort," and "BambooBaby."