Eco Promotional Products, Inc. – Eliminates Bamboo Clothing from its Line
By: Laura Mathews, Eco Promotional Products, Inc.
Recycled. Green. Organic. Bamboo. These words elicit the feeling that your purchase is a sustainable choice in a world filled with cheap, irresponsible products. And on many occasions, that’s what those words mean. However, it’s the responsibility of everyone to vet these and other similar terms to ensure that the eco-friendly product you’re putting your purchasing power behind is actually eco-friendly.
Here at Eco Promotional Products, that’s our job too. We don’t want to greenwash or support businesses that take advantage of people’s interest in becoming more sustainable. That’s why we’re announcing the discontinuation of our bamboo clothing and all other items made from bamboo fabric. We’ve gone over the information available to us with great care to arrive at this decision. We want to be transparent with you, our valued customers, and explain how we arrived at this decision. Below we’ve listed the questions we researched and the answers we found. We hope you can use these questions as a guideline the next time you’re determining if a green product really meets the standards you require:
How is it made?
The Fair Trade Commission describes the overall process best by saying, “The truth is,most bamboo textile products, if not all, really are rayon, which typically is made using environmentally toxic chemicals…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.” In our research, we learned that those toxic chemicals include carbon sulfide, sodium hydroxide and sulfuric acid. The powerful carbon disulfide is the most commonly used; it’s also used in insect control and as a solvent for waxes. Carbon sulfide has shown to cause neural disorders in workers at rayon manufacturers. When the process is all said and done, only half the chemical is recovered, meaning that the other half has gone into the environment. And after all that chemical heavy process, the fabric still has to travel to the US (as there are very few US bamboo resources) which will add a great deal to the end product’s carbon footprint.
How much of the green product is actually present?
Customers want bamboo because it is thought to be a rapidly renewable resource that doesn’t need many pesticides to grow. We were upset to find that with lax labeling policies, some manufacturers falsely label products made from synthetic fibers as bamboo itself. We also learned that in addition to an unknown percentage of bamboo, there are often materials such as spandex and polyester in the fabric as well.
Are their claims third-party verified?
This is often one of the easiest areas for the average person to verify a company’s claims. For us, we had difficulty receiving any proof of certification from our vendors and were also told that this particular certification was not as specific as we would have liked.
Yes, bamboo is rapidly renewable. Yes, it requires fewer pesticides to grow. Unfortunately, bamboo fabric manufacturing is a chemically intensive process that is done thousands of miles away and the industry is not developed enough yet to provide clear and legitimate labeling of the product. When we weighed the costs v. benefits, we felt bamboo fabric does not qualify as a product we can recommend. So that’s what we did here at Eco Promotional Products and we’re happy to turn this into a teaching moment.
At this time we are not replacing the bamboo fabric with an alternate fabric. However, we continue to research options in order to remain at the forefront of technology and fashion. And we continue to offer a wide variety of apparel made from eco-friendly fabrics. Just to be clear, you may still purchase our other bamboo products such as kitchen utensils, office supplies & gifts from us. The process that we reject in the manufacturing of bamboo fabric is not part of the process to make our other bamboo products.
For more information on Eco Promotional Products, Inc., please visit:
www.ecopromotionsonline.com, call local: 847.520.1771, toll free: 877.326.9467 or email us at email@example.com