The Federal Trade Commission is cracking down on a marketing claim that may have ensnared many environmentally conscious buyers: "bamboo."
While clothing and other textiles may have started off, at some point, as the rapidly regenerative bamboo, the FTC says companies can't label rayon as bamboo, even if it's made from bamboo. Why? Because, according to the FTC: "Rayon is a man-made fiber created from the cellulose found in plants and trees and processed with harsh chemicals that release hazardous air pollution. Any plant or tree including bamboo could be used as the cellulose source, but the fiber that is created is rayon."
The FTC this week sent warning letters to 78 retailers about misguided use of "bamboo" marketing. Among the warned retailers: Amazon.com, Barneys New York, Bed Bath & Beyond, BJs Wholesale Club, Bloomingdales, Costco Wholesale, Garnet Hill, Gold Toe, Hanes, Isotoner, JCPenney, Jockey, Kmart, Kohls, Lands End, Macys, Maidenform, Nordstrom, Overstock.com, QVC, REI, Saks Fifth Avenue, Sears, Shop NBC, Spiegel, Sports Authority, Target, The Gap, The Great Indoors, Tommy Bahama, Toys R Us, Wal-Mart, and Zappos.com. Last year, the FTC sued several retailers for advertising rayon as bamboo.
"We need to make sure companies use proper labeling and advertising in their efforts to appeal to environmentally conscious consumers," David C. Vladeck, director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection, said in a prepared statement. "Rayon is rayon, even if bamboo has been used somewhere along the line in the manufacturing process."
If retailers and manufacturers fail to comply, the penalty can be severe: $16,000 per violation.
The FTC's consumer tips include this information about "bamboo" rayon:
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