Don’t be bamboozled: the real deal with "bamboo fabric"

News release

February 27, 2019 – OTTAWA, ON – Competition Bureau

Bamboo fabric is often touted as an environmentally-friendly alternative.

You may have heard that bamboo grows quickly, requires little or no pesticides and that it has antimicrobial and biodegradable properties.

But consumers beware: transforming bamboo fiber into soft fabrics for clothing, towels or bedding involves the use of a lot of chemicals that may be harmful to the environment. The end product of this major chemical transformation process is a fabric called rayon or viscose, which contains no trace of the bamboo plant or its antimicrobial properties.

The advertisements and labels for these fabrics must include terms such as "rayon", "viscose", "rayon from bamboo" or "viscose from bamboo". However, they are often misrepresented as "bamboo" without any mention of rayon or viscose.

Don’t be bamboozled: bamboo-labeled sheets, T-shirts and other textile products found in stores and online may not be as “green” as they seem.

Advice for the smart shopper:

  • Some companies try to make their products seem more eco-friendly than they are. This practice is called greenwashing, and it is against the law.
  • If you notice that fabrics are advertised or labelled as "bamboo" without the words "rayon" or "viscose", take a photo of the product and label. Note the brand, retailer, location and date, and report it to the Competition Bureau online or by calling 1-800-348-5358.
  • Be wary of other green or health-related claims associated with so-called "bamboo fabric". If you suspect that the claim may be false or misleading, report it to the Competition Bureau.

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