Why bamboo sheets are eco-friendly

There is lots of negative media on the internet about how bamboo sheets are being marketed as eco-friendly, when in actuality they are not.  The FTC (Federal Trade Commission) has a whole article on how companies that sell bamboo sheets are “bamboo-zling” consumers.

So what exactly is the FTC and all the other media talking about?  Their logic lies in the fact that bamboo sheets are made of rayon made from bamboo, not just bamboo fibers.  So what exactly is bamboo rayon?  Rayon is one of the softest fabrics around today.  It can be made from any number of fibers, not just bamboo.  Rayon has gotten a bad rap in the past few years however.  Some have gone so far as to blame rayon for the destruction of rainforests, because some manufacturers will use the wood fibers from rare trees to produce rayon.

However, bamboo is not an endangered tree.  Bamboo is a woody grass, and is one of the fastest growing plants in the world.  Bamboo is primarily found in Asia, and bamboo forests grow quite quickly.  Bamboo has even been recorded as growing more than two feet in a single twenty-four hour period.  Hence, bamboo could technically be considered one of the most renewable resources ever.  Because unlike the endangered trees found in rainforests there are being steadily eliminated through deforestation, bamboo shoots can easily be replaced after they have been harvested.  Bamboo shoots reach their full height and diameter within just three months.  Some of the longest bamboo has been recorded as reaching heights of over thirty feet and 8 inches in diameter.  Consequently, rayon made from bamboo really shouldn’t be getting the bad rap that it is.

bamboo forest

Some also posit that rayon is a synthetic fabric and should not be considered eco-friendly at all.  However, rayon can neither be considered entirely synthetic, nor entirely natural.  It is semi-synthetic, because it is made from natural fibers that then go through a chemical process that produces rayon.  However, Korean researchers performed a study in which they found that rayon fabric was more biodegradable than cotton fabric, thanks to its chemical properties.  Thus there is no foundation for the statement that rayon fabric is not eco-friendly in the least.

Rayon is a very unique fabric in that it can be produced to imitate a variety of textures, making it quite versatile.  Additionally, rayon is quite easy to dye, unlike some fabrics, which is good for purposes of production.  It is interesting to note that the FTC has scolded the same companies it has claimed “bamboo-zled” their customers for claiming that bamboo sheets (made from rayon made from bamboo) have the anti-microbial properties that bamboo has, since the sheets underwent a chemical process in order to produce the rayon.  However, rayon has some strikingly similar properties – rayon fabrics are quite cool, which allows users to sweat less, which promotes less bacteria growth.  This is very similar to the anti-microbial properties of bamboo.  Thus although the anti-microbial properties of organic bamboo sheets don’t stem from the fact that they are made of bamboo fibers, this does not necessarily detract from the anti-microbial properties boasted by rayon fabrics.

It is also interesting to note that bamboo can be used for a number of other purposes, including construction, decoration, clothing, paper, etc.  Bamboo sheets (made from rayon, or bamboo viscose) are among the softest sheets in the world, and a bamboo sheet with a good thread count of 300 is actually comparable in feel to a 1000-thread count cotton sheet.

Bamboo sheets may not be as eco-friendly as they would be were they not manufactured first into rayon, but because they are made from rayon, they are the softest and most comfortable sheets on the market today.  And although they are made from rayon, they are still plenty eco-friendly, in spite of what the FTC and other media sites would lead you to believe.


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