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Why Blessed Earth doesn’t sell bamboo.

Over the years we’ve been repeatedly asked why we don’t sell bamboo products.

For us it was always obvious that to take a piece of wood and turn it into a fabric that is soft to the touch is going to take a lot of chemical processing.

That has always been our instinctive reaction and it seems to be borne out by authorities such as the US Bureau of Consumer Protection, who state in their article: “How to avoid bamboozling your customers”

The truth is, most “bamboo” textile products, if not all, really are rayon, which typically is made using environmentally toxic chemicals in a process that emits hazardous pollutants into the air. While different plants, including bamboo, can be used as a source material to create rayon, there’s no trace of the original plant in the finished rayon product.

The problem we as a business are always up against is that the public really don’t know much about these things. They haven’t thought about them much and are easily led to believe something is healthier or more environmentally responsible than it really is. They don’t know and can’t be expected to know.

We also don’t want to get into the practice of bad-mouthing our competitors and that’s why we appreciate the work of Dr Mercola and others. When it comes to the subtleties of textile products however, we have to speak out because that is our area and no-one else will do it. In a previous article we called it “greenwashing”.

Have you noticed how just about every baby website is selling products made from organic cotton. No explanation, no proof required, they can say what they like and if the product is well displayed on the website, consumers will want to believe them. Do them a favour, keep them honest, ask them for proof.

We see it all the time, where companies either blatantly misrepresent their product, or select only the positive aspects but refuse to acknowledge the negative to the detriment of the well-being of the consumer (which is certainly unacceptable!!!). People are going crazy over bamboo. On the plus side, it’s a beautiful green plant that grows like a weed and panda bears love it!!! What they are actually getting is synthetically created rayon.

Recently a customer, A.A. of WA, emailed asking why we don’t sell bamboo. We explained that it’s not organic. She replied that there is a company in the USA selling organic bamboo so we started researching. Sure enough, when we googled Organic Bamboo we came up with a company in the US claiming to be making it with Oeko-Tex certification.

Oeko-Tex on their website make no mention of the word “organic” and explain that: Product certification according to OEKO-TEX® Standard 100 provides companies along the textile chain with an ideal tool and clear added value for their operational quality assurance.

Here is their explanation of how the fabric is derived:

Making fabric from Bamboo

  • The woody parts of the bamboo plant are crushed and natural enzymes are used to produce a mushy mass where fibres are combed out and made into a yarn using a mechanical method

  • This process is an environmentally sustainable, eco-friendly process similar to that used in the production on Tencel and rayon.     

They may be using state of the art technology, but the “fibre” used to create the fabric is synthetically created. As far as we can see, it is a man-made fibre that can never be certified organic by Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS). GOTS is more stringent and talks about the entire supply chain of raw materials (right from cultivation to the end product). There are social compliance requirements as well. GOTS is the world-wide watchdog on organic practices and here is their view on bamboo:

Is it possible to use 'bamboo' in GOTS-certified textiles?”

For almost all bamboo fibre used in industrial textile production not the natural bamboo is used but it is melted and regenerated in a viscose / rayon process and can therefore not be considered a natural or even organic fibre, even if the bamboo plant was originally certified organic on the field. As a result bamboo fibres can only be used for the tolerated remaining balance of conventional fibres (up to 5% for the label grade ‘organic’ and up to 10% respective 25% for the label grade ‘made with organic materials’) in GOTS certified textiles.

These rules apply to regenerated fibres derived from any raw material source (e.g. wood, cotton lints, soybean, milk).

Users of bamboo (and other regenerated) fibres should also be aware of the legal labelling requirements in their sales markets. In the United States the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) has clarified that if bamboo is produced via rayon process these fibers must be called rayon and not bamboo (see FTC article “How to avoid bamboozling your customers”). Equivalent labelling requirements apply elsewhere as well, such as in the European Union.”

For the full article refer to http://www.global-standard.org/information-centre/faqs.html#Is it possible to use bamboo in GOTS certified textiles?:

We are completely open to being proven wrong on this and if it were truly certifiable as organic, would love to stock it.

We sent the above understanding to A.A. of WA and here is her reply:

Hi Rai,

Some very interesting information, particularly on "How to avoid bamboozling your customers" page. It would seem there is lots of illegal labeling going on. Not sure what the laws are in Australia but certainly in the States. I actually emailed Ettitude (an american company who also sell in Australia) the link to the FTC article. Not surprisingly, I have had no response. Their website is very misleading, also claiming antibacterial properties in their textiles and explaining GOTS in their FAQ's page even though they are not GOTS certified!



There is another element we would like to introduce to the subject of organics and well-being- that is muscle-testing and there are ample references on how to do it on the web.

Simply touch a substance or even just ask the question whether a substance is in your best interests and test your muscle strength to get the answer. We have consistently found that muscles test strong for natural fibres and weak for man-made fibres.

The point is; no matter how well made a material is your body cannot be fooled. It knows the energetic structure of the material at a fundamental level.

In the foundation stages of Blessed Earth we attended a Body Mind Spirit expo and a visitor told us she loved cotton but had just muscle-tested as allergic to it. We gave her some organic cotton to take to the practitioner and to the practitioner’s dismay, she tested okay.

Most conventional “cotton” has some man-made polyester in it. Up to 10% and they don’t have to declare it. Your body knows these things…

As always, we invite you to make up your own mind and will welcome your feedback.