Bamboo-zled: FTC Catches 78 Clothing Retailers Selling Rayon As Bamboo

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,, The Gap, and, 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.”

The FTC has published an alert entitled “Have You Been Bamboozled by Bamboo Fabrics?” that provides useful information for consumers shopping for bamboo-based fabrics.

Take action by signing these related petitions:

End H&M’s practice of throwing away clothes!

Say No To Fur

Ask Walmart to Green Clothing Care Labels

Image Credit: Flickr Creative Commons - defrostca


katie M.
katie M.4 months ago

and those concerned about panda's, bamboo is invasive

katie M.
katie M.4 months ago

organic or human, are ANY of these chemicals safe?

Jeanette B.
Jen B.5 years ago

Great information...thanks for posting!

Dana W.
Dana W.5 years ago

This issue is important, not only for the environment, but because consumers are charged a lot more for clothing made with "responsible" fabrics.

Loesje vB
Loesje Najoan5 years ago

I voted. Thanks for yr info Beth.

Rupesh Pawani
Rupesh Pawani6 years ago

All textile products are made of 100% organic chemicals, pesticides are not safe, no fragrances. Chemicals have always made fiber nneded.
Eco friendly clothing

Rupesh Pawani
Rupesh Pawani6 years ago

Genuine likely to be misleading in so far as it goes. Every retailer is to trick people how do we spend our money. They should be called more often in the claims of their products.
Eco friendly clothing

Ellinor S.
Ellinor S.6 years ago

thank you

Julia D.
Julia DeCosta6 years ago

a list of store that have the product and the number of other safe,green ways they help would be great

Gen S.
v s.6 years ago

I'm all for natural fabrics, but I also wonder why consumers don't hear about bamboo sustainability. Pandas eat bamboo, & I would not start to support products that may threaten their food source or environment. Labeling their clothing fiber, content & baby is not lying about the content. Pure, Authentic would probably be more deceptive as far as that goes. All retailers deceive people, that's how they get us to spend our money. They should be called out more often on their product claims. Especially since Walmart, Target, Kohl's, Neiman Marcus, etc, have the same suppliers. Ya, we knew that.