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Bamboo Clothing, Bags and Bed Sheets Aren’t as Eco-Friendly as You Think

If you’re a shopper at wholesale stores, you’ve probably been approached by demonstrators touting eco-friendly bamboo sheets that are buttery smooth, breathable and odor resistant. While they may be soft, don’t be fooled, especially with the holidays approaching. Bamboo fabric is not eco-friendly.

Bamboo is the fastest growing plant in the world and is nature’s most sustainable and renewable resource. A member of the grass family, it is 100% naturally grown, without assistance from man and is naturally regenerative. Bamboo has an extensive root system that sends out an average of four to six new shoots per year, naturally replenishing itself and growing to heights of 60 feet or more. Some bamboo species grow up to four feet per day, can be harvested every three to four years and does not need to be cut at the root. Bamboo spreads rapidly across large areas; because of this, it is known to improve soil quality in degraded and eroded areas of land. Bamboo requires 1/3 the amount of water to grow than cotton uses and has no natural pests, allowing it to grow without fertilizers, pesticides or chemicals.

At Eco Promotional Products, you will find hundreds of bamboo products. What you will not find is bamboo clothing or bamboo tote bags. While bamboo in its original form is highly sustainable and has many environmentally friendly attributes, turning bamboo into fiber for clothing, sheets, furniture, etc. is an unacceptable, chemically intensive process.

Most bamboo textiles are made from viscose rayon, which is created from bamboo or wood pulp processed in a toxic bath of chemicals that generates significant pollution harmful to factory workers and the environment. Dr. Paul D. Blanc is a professor of occupational and environmental medicine at the University of California, San Francis and the author of the book “Fake Silk: The Lethal History of Viscose Rayon.” In an article in B Corp’s B Magazine Bland said “If you buy something that has even 50 percent viscose rayon, don’t kid yourself [that you’re] buying a ‘green’ product.” This highly informative article also includes a helpful “fake bamboo glossary.” 

For truly eco-friendly apparel and other textiles, consider organic cotton, hemp or fabrics made from recycled rPET. Eco Promotional Products has a wide variety of hemp apparel products from hemp hats to hemp bags to hemp apparel. Our prediction is that once more people become aware of the toxicity of bamboo clothing, hemp textiles will emerge as the front runner. German supermarket giant Aldi is committed to CSR in their stores across the world. Aldi created a lot of buzz recently around the launch of a hemp bed sheet Special Buys sale. Unfortunately, they were not offered in the U.S.

Eco Promotional Products continues to monitor the market and will be adding additional custom branded hemp apparel offerings, as they become available.