Tag Archives: environment

Rayon oh Rayon

Over at Inhabitat they’ve put up a little post about the mysteries of Bamboo fabric. Apparently, in order to make bamboo the plant into bamboo the wearable fabric the fibers undergo a process involving some intense chemical. Inhabitat links over to Organic Clothing for a description of this process:

“Most bamboo fabric that is the current eco-fashion rage is chemically manufactured by “cooking” the bamboo leaves and woody shoots in strong chemical solvents such as sodium hydroxide and carbon disulfide in a process also known as hydrolysis alkalization combined with multi-phase bleaching. Both sodium hydroxide and carbon disulfide have been linked to serious health problems. Breathing low levels of carbon disulfide can cause tiredness, headache and nerve damage. Carbon disulfide has been shown to cause neural disorders in workers at rayon manufacturers. Low levels of exposure to sodium hydroxide can cause irritation of the skin and eyes. Sodium hydroxide is a strong alkaline base also known as caustic soda or lye. In its dry crystalline form, caustic soda is one of the major ingredients of Drano. This is basically the same process used to make rayon from wood or cotton waste byproducts. Because of the potential health risks and damage to the environment surrounding the manufacturing facilities, textile manufacturing processes for bamboo or other regenerated fibers using hydrolysis alkalization with multi-phase bleaching are not considered sustainable or environmentally supportable.”

Right now the FTC is going after a handful of companies who have been marketing their bamboo products as 100% bamboo and environmentally friendly because, at the end of this process, the bamboo fibers are not only not very environmentally friendly but they also become something known as rayon (a fiber that can be made from the cellulose in a plan or tree). Crazy huh? Inhabitat still makes a good point: “Isn’t the Rayon made from bamboo technically more sustainable than Rayon made from other types of plants that need tons of pesticides to grow and do not have the ability to regenerate as quickly?”