Bamboo Sheets vs Cotton Sheets: Who is really more eco-friendly
Bamboo, part of the grass family Poaceae and having 1,450 different species, has been labeled the fastest-growing plant on earth. There are many diverse uses for this grassy plant. The particular species that are used in the textile industry have fibers that are very short, less than 3mm making it impossible to transform into the necessary yarn in a natural process. Therefore, the process is combined with rayon where the fibers are broken down with chemicals such as lye, carbon disulfide and strong acids then extruded through mechanical spinnerets. The end result is a "bamboo fabric" which has come under scrutiny with the Federal Trade Commission as being labeled as a natural bamboo fabric. Now the guidelines state that the product must be labeled as rayon with a statement that the product is "from bamboo".
So, if you are interested in bamboo sheets, it just makes sense to be aware of rayon. Rayon is a manufactured regenerated cellulose fiber (extracted from wood pulp) making it a semi-synthetic produced from naturally occurring polymers. It is not a natural fiber, yet it is not synthetic either. Rayon has been labeled as the most misunderstood of all fibers. Dating back to 1891, rayon is the oldest manufactured fiber developed as an alternative to silk. The characteristics of rayon include, highly absorbent, soft, comfortable, breathable, drapes well, does not build up static electricity. Rayon is also the biggest fiber competitor of cotton.
Cotton has history dating back thousands of years and is one of our oldest fibers. The world uses more cotton than any other fiber. Cotton is a white, fluffy, soft, staple fiber that grows in a boll as a natural-fiber which becomes a breathable textile that is extremely versatile. Nicknamed nature's wonder fiber as it transcends into thousands of possible products ranging from textile to food from cottonseed. All parts of the plant are useful and even the left over stalks and leaves are plowed back into the ground to enrich the soil. Although cotton is natural in and of itself, it has the drawback of infestation in the growing process where pesticides typically are used. Once manufactured, cotton is usually treated chemically to reduce the flammable nature of the finished product. Cotton provides added texture or strength when blended with other natural fibers taking advantage of its high use and versatility qualities.