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False bamboo fabric claims

I’m sick of the bamboo ‘fabric’ greenwashing going on. There are companies making outright false claims about fabrics they claim are ‘100%’ bamboo.

The majority of bamboo fabric is a synthetic rayon or similar. The bamboo is just the raw product (cellulose) used in creating the rayon fibre.

While it may be better to use bamboo rather than old-growth forests to make fabric, the resultant fabric is not ‘natural’, can still shed plastic microfibers and is not compostable.

a good summary here:

One company making ‘bamboo’ microfibre cloths claims this:

“Made from 100% Natural Bamboo Microfibre. Unlike conventional micro-fibre cloths, it saves our ocean from micro-plastic pollution.”

Where do we go to report stuff like this?

Your average consumer is being completely hoodwinked


Yes, some could be in the snake oil category. ABC Catalyst did a story a while ago…and some of the facts and claims associated with bamboo fabrics is questionable…many are in fact viscose which is a man made material (or semi-synthetic)…potentially with some component sourced from the bamboo plant.

When we had our child we were given ‘flushable’ bamboo nappy liners and we were told and initially thought that the bamboo liners were safer and better than synthetic ones. From a bit of research (realised they were viscose from bamboo), we doubted the claims and instead made out own out of terri-towelling (100% cotton). We only used a few ‘bamboo’ ones and binned the rest.

The bamboo claims is a bit like saying a product is organic because a very small component of the product is sourced and certified organic…such would not stack up and action would be taken against such claims.

The ACCC or potentially Choice could investigate claims further and make a complaint with the ACCC if the information available dismissing the claims in fact is correct. If it is, the information would be misleading and false advertising…something the ACCC may take a dim view to.


Does anyone know good sources of the real stuff?

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The real stuff doesn’t exist might be the best response.

Like any product unless the origins of the product, processing and finishing are all quality controlled and traceable through accredited suppliers there is no way of knowing for sure.

As @njwch2 asks or points out there is no clear position on how the products are described and marketed in Australia. Thanks @njwch2 for pointing this out.

A search of the internet left me with the impression that at least 99% of what is sold as made from bamboo fabric is simply synthetic (plastic fibre) made from bamboo, instead of petroleum products or more traditionally chemically dissolved trees? Please excuse the avoidance of chemistry and technical jargon.

P.S. (if you don’t have time to read the original source article for this topic, there are two very different products)

There are two ways to turn bamboo to into a fabric.

  1. Mechanically by crushing bamboo, and over much time allowing natural enzymes it break it down. The fibres are combed out and spun into yarn. Similar to making linen, which we also love to wear close to our intimate parts? It’s also labour intensive and expensive. How close is the genuine bamboo product to linen which is a tough and durable product?

  2. Chemically where the bamboo is dissolved and treated to produce cellulose. Not such a nice process environmentally. Think wood pulp and paper production on steroids. This is used to produce a rayon like yarn. It’s debatable whether the yarn produced from bamboo by this process is significantly different or better than any other similar synthetic when used to manufacture fabrics? Physical it may not differ at all, but in marketing it opens a whole new avenue for misleading consumers.

I could suggest plastics when they were first produced could truthfully lay claim to being 100% natural sustainable products. They were derived from trees, although as a slight difference bamboo rayon comes from a grass.


Going to Wikipedia, searching the terms Rayon, Viscose, Bamboo and Bamboo textile explains it all. In USA and Canada it seems these products must be labelled as “Rayon” or “Rayon made from bamboo”. Why hasn’t Australia done the same yet?