Textile derived from bamboo cellulose, called "viscose from bamboo" or "rayon from bamboo" - is a luxuriously soft and fabulous to wear textile. Smooth, with a bit of sheen almost like silk. It drapes well and moves freely enhancing the style of the garment. As a fiber, bamboo is shrouded in a bit of the mystery. It is a relatively new textile and it stirred some controversy. Why?
FTC (Federal Trade Commission) restricts the exact nomenclature of any fabrics derived originally from bamboo plant. Since they come through the chemical process in order to create the yarn and fabric, the textiles extracted from bamboo cellulose are called "viscose from bamboo" or "rayon from bamboo". Here is the link to FTC rules www.ftc.gov/bamboo-textiles
In a letter to retailers www.ftc.gov/tips-advice/business-center/guidance/how-avoid-bamboozling-your-customers, FTC states "The truth is, most “bamboo” textile products, if not all, really are rayon, [....] there’s no trace of the original plant in the finished rayon product."
What does this mean? Read on.... We labeled our items accordingly. Recently we have learned that even a common title like a "bamboo dress" is incorrect, so we have adjusted all our titles and item descriptions. The actual words "rayon" or "viscose" mean really that it is a regenerated cellulose fiber. The cellulose could be bamboo or wood pulp like in lyocell (Tencel®), Modal or MicroModal.
Bamboo is dissolved into a pulp and reconstituted again using sodium hydroxide (caustic soda), a similar agent used in the manufacturing of soap or cotton. It is done in a closed loop so chemicals used are returned to the process. The chemicals used for Tencel® or Modal® might be different but the basic process is similar.
Now, please, beware - the information below is my PERSONAL experience, not an official business claim. If you are uncertain, simply stop reading here, ignore this section and don't buy the items related in any way to the bamboo plant.
We carry the items made of bamboo viscose because many of our customers with sensitive skin love the products and ask for more. They work for them. Textile is very soft and gentle to our human skin. Personally, we find that it has a very good absorbency of water or sweat, which helps to keep the growth or bacteria and odor down. Excellent for hot climates. As the owner, as well as my family and many clients, we find the "viscose from bamboo" textile amazing.
Since FTC came down with lawsuits against retailers using wrong nomenclature, many got discouraged from carrying it. There are news articles and statements denouncing bamboo, even if praising Tencel at the same time.
We feel that there is more to the story. Environmentally, the bamboo plant, a fastest growing grass, minimizes CO2 and generates more oxygen than most plants. Its extensive root system naturally replenishes itself, so the plant is grown without using pesticides or chemical fertilizers and is not GMO. It needs very little water to grow, which means it can thrive in a variety of climates without depleting water supplies.
We feel that you, the consumer, should have as many options as possible to choose what works for you. Let's be fair about it. At this point in our "civilized" society, there is no single textile that is "innocent". Outside of wearing a grass skirt, any manufacturing is challenging - usage of water by cotton, chemicals by conventional wool, crude oil for synthetic textiles. We support textiles that use replenishable resources and create the relative least harm to the environment while being safe and sustainable for our human needs. We might not all agree on the same preferences but can all acknowledge the values if they exist and challenges.