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Bamboo: Green or Greenwashing?

Towels are made from a number of fabrics: for example, cotton (like we use at The Turkish Towel Company), bamboo, etc. You’ll often find marketing copy talking about how sustainable bamboo is. Is this reality, or just greenwashing?

Bamboo, a type of grass is strong and has the ability to grow quickly, being the fastest growing plant on earth. It takes only 60 days to reach the height and width of trees that are used for making wood. Bamboo takes in carbon dioxide and produces more oxygen than many types of trees. It’s an eco-choice for things like flooring and furniture. So, it’s easy to be lulled into thinking that bamboo could fall into the sustainable fabrics category. However, there’s more to the story than that.

The big issue occurs during the process of turning that hard wood-like product into a soft consumer fiber. It’s a highly chemical-based process. The fabric is made by “cooking” the bamboo leaves and woody shoots in strong chemical solvents such as sodium hydroxide combined with multi-phase bleaching. Many of these chemicals have been linked to serious health problems. And, it doesn’t stop there, often there is no close-looped system and much of by-product waste water is released into the environment.

This is one of the many reasons why we use premium Turkish cotton, and only Turkish cotton to make all of our products.

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