Before learning about the “organic bamboo” baby towels
When we started looking for a hooded bath towel for our 3-year-old girl we tested numerous samples from different sellers on Amazon. The most popular buys were usually of the most horrible quality, though. I will not share the link, but most of you noticed that grey elephant-shaped towel with a pink bow attached among the top search results on Amazon. I guess, the only reason it is so popular is the low price.
Parents usually tend to trust the opinion of other parents who bought and tested the product—and we were not the exception. So we went for the most reviewed towels on Amazon and found several good options. Some of the softer towels were made from so-called “organic” bamboo. So we began in-depth research of the topic and found out that there was more marketing to that “organic” buzz than there was something organic left from bamboo fiber—which is is a great base material—before it goes through the mechanical manufacturing process that destroys all its exceptional natural qualities.
Bamboo fabric production using the viscose method and its dangers for baby’s health
The most common way to create fabric from bamboo is the viscose method. In this process, the bamboo pulp is dissolved in a strong solvent—aqueous sodium hydroxide in the presence of carbon disulfide—a toxic chemical that is a known for its human reproductive hazard. It can also endanger factory workers and pollute the environment via air emissions and wastewater. The recovery of this solvent in most viscose factories is about 50%—the other half goes into the environment. There are other potentially hazardous chemicals also used in the viscose process: sodium hydroxide and sulfuric acid just a couple of them.
All you should know is that the natural properties of the bamboo wood (its anti-bacterial, UV Protecting and other qualities) are not transferred in any way to the fabric produced from the bamboo rayon, thus making most of the marketing claims false.
What officials have to say about the organic bamboo fabric?
In the US the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) investigated many of those „organic bamboo“ claims and had required the manufacturers and retailers to label the products accordingly. If bamboo is produced through the rayon process, these fibers must be called rayon and not bamboo (see FTC article “How to avoid bamboozling your customers”).
Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) is certifying and allowing the use of its label only if no more than 10% of bamboo fiber is used apart from organic materials:
For almost all bamboo fiber used in industrial textile production, not the natural bamboo is used but it is melted and regenerated in a viscose/rayon process and can therefore not be considered as natural or even organic fiber, even if the bamboo plant was initially certified organic on the field. In consequence in the GOTS-certified textiles bamboo fibers can only be used for the tolerated remaining balance of conventional fibers. If the rayon is made from organically grown bamboo up to 10% may be used for the label grade ‘made with organic materials’.
In 2010, Canadian government’s Competition Bureau announced that more than 450,000 textile articles had been relabelled in its bid to prevent consumers being misled over bamboo claims.
In search of genuinely Organic Baby Towels
The world is continuously changing, and we were looking not only for something healthy, absorbent, and soft for our toddler but also for something that will not harm the environment. The ideal product would be a towel that is
- soft and absorbent—the french terry towels have several parameters that could affect that tactile feeling like loop length, number of loops per square inch, the yarn selection, and even the technology used for manufacturing (knitted or woven),
- not too heavy: 500 GSM (grams per square meter) is a good towel for a hotel, but it would be too heavy for a child,
- organic cotton (not bamboo!)—made from GOTS certified organic material and manufactured by preferably OEKO-TEX certified manufacturer,
- recyclable and biodegradable would be a huge plus.
We ended up with several good towels which were not fitting our requirements to suit the tender skin of our daughter. Thus we decided to find the right textile, the right manufacturer and create our own baby hooded towels.
That is how the Naturally Kids brand and Naturally Kids baby hooded organic towels were born.