Greenwashing hits outdoor apparel

The Federal Trade Commission warned 78 companies that they must stop falsely advertising apparel as being bamboo or risk being sued.

The letters were recently sent to retailers like Hanes, Jockey and Target as well as REI, Sports Authority and Even companies like Bamboo Eco Wear, Footprint Bamboo and Green Earth Bamboo were included in the list.

“We need to make sure companies use proper labeling and advertising in their efforts to appeal to environmentally conscious consumers,” David Vladeck, the FTC’s bureau of consumer protection director, said in a statement.

bamboo shirt.jpg

Companies falsely marketing shirts, pants and other products as “bamboo” risk being sued by the FTC if they continue mislabeling them

After all, mislabeling clothes as bamboo when they’re really made from rayon is greenwashing at its finest. Sure rayon is made from the cellulose of plants or trees – including bamboo – but it’s processed with harsh chemicals that release hazardous air pollution, according to the FTC.

Companies like REI have already started changing labels. According to a company spokeswoman, “The co-op has been actively addressing this matter over the past year as concerns emerged around the appropriate marketing of this material.” As an example, she said the company has changed some of their labels to read “viscose from bamboo” instead of claiming it strictly as bamboo.

If the companies don’t correct or replace misleading labels, the FTC could sue them for up to $16,000 per violation – and it has done so in the past.

Edit: some related follow-up reading from a MN bamboo clothing maker

—Ryan Dionne

Posted by Doug - 02/09/2010 06:48 PM

Ah ya…our labels have said viscose from bamboo for over a year now. There is so much more to this issue than what most people report – such as the above post.

If someone is really interested in learning the largely unreported facts on this issue, then you can find a plethora of info here:

Posted by Will - 02/10/2010 09:09 AM

Doug, your blog link does not work. Nor the does the blog link from your website ( If you’re going to ask us to read a “plethora of info”, you should really provide an accurate link.

Posted by Amanda - 02/25/2010 11:38 AM

Hmm, his link worked for me..

Posted by Al - 02/25/2010 11:51 AM

Link works for me. The site doesn’t seems to be a balanced discussion on the pros and cons of bamboo though…

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