Have You Been Bamboozled by Bamboo Product Claims?

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Bamboo sounds really eco-friendly, but it's not when it's chemically processed into rayon, the FTC says. Find out which retailers were accused of deceptive labeling.

Four national retailers have been hit with fines for bamboozling environmentally conscious consumers by mislabeling rayon textile products as bamboo.

Bed Bath & Beyond, Nordstrom, J.C. Penney and Backcountry.com have settled charges that they falsely labeled and advertised textile products, including dresses, socks, T-shirts, baby blankets, bath rugs, napkins and pillow shams, as made of bamboo, when they were actually made of rayon, according to the Federal Trade Commission.

“It’s misleading to call bamboo that has been chemically processed into rayon simply ‘bamboo’,” Jessica Rich, director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection, said in a statement. “With consumers in the midst of their holiday shopping, it’s important for them to know that textiles marketed as environmentally friendly alternatives may not be as ‘green’ as they were led to believe.”

The FTC said the retailers continued to deceive consumers with mislabeled textile products despite previous warnings to stop doing so.

The settlement requires Bed Bath & Beyond to pay $500,000, Nordstrom to pay $360,000, J.C. Penney to pay $290,000 and Backcountry.com to pay $150,000. None of the retailers admitted wrongdoing.

In 2013, Amazon, Macy’s, Sears and Leon Max Inc. settled similar textile mislabeling charges with the FTC.

Bamboo is typically viewed as an environmentally friendly product because it grows quickly and has little or no need for pesticides. But according to the FTC, if you’re purchasing soft “bamboo” fabrics, they’re actually made from rayon, and they’re not environmentally friendly.

“[The soft fabrics] are made using toxic chemicals in a process that releases pollutants into the air,” the FTC explains. “Extracting bamboo fibers is expensive and time-consuming, and textiles made just from bamboo fiber don’t feel silky smooth.”

The FTC said it’s sending other retailers a letter urging them to make sure they are properly labeling and advertising rayon textile products.

Have you purchased soft fabrics that claim they’re made of bamboo? Share your comments below or on our Facebook page.

Stacy Johnson

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