Posts Tagged ‘organic cotton’

Q & A: Bamboo Crib Mattress Sheets

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2009

Q: I’ve been thinking of getting bamboo sheets rather than organic cotton. Are bamboo sheets okay for a baby?

Is Bamboo Safer Than Cotton Crib Mattress Bedding?

Is Bamboo Safer Than Cotton Crib Mattress Bedding?

A: Bamboo is a great natural resource in a number of ways. However, as with many of our natural resources, bamboo becomes a mere shadow of itself while undergoing the processes used to bring it to market. In fact, according to a recent ruling from the FTC which determined that four manufacturers of “bamboo” textile products (including crib sheets and baby clothing) are guilty of making false claims, “bamboo-based textiles, actually made of rayon, are not antimicrobial, made in an environmentally friendly manner, or biodegradable.

What exactly does the FTC mean? Well, the ‘actually made of rayon’ statement does not mean the textiles don’t contain bamboo pulp; rather, it refers to the process – man-made fiber which uses cellulose (usually wood pulp) as a base, is rayon. The resultant textile when bamboo pulp is used would more correctly be called ‘bamboo rayon.

The FTC statement that the bamboo products are not made in an environmentally friendly manner refers to the “harsh chemical that releases hazardous air pollutants” used in the manufacturing process. This chemical also destroys any inherent antimicrobial properties in the bamboo – hence the FTC statement that the textile is not antimicrobial.

The above is simple enough, but the FTC statement that bamboo-based fabric isn’t biodegradable really needs clarification: If you put a ‘bamboo’ sheet in a compost heap or lay it in the soil in your garden, it will decompose. So, why does the FTC say it’s not biodegradable? The basic problem is the definition of the word ‘biodegradable': biodegradable is generally defined as ‘capable of being decomposed by biological agents’ such as bacteria or enzymes. But to advertise something as biodegradable, the FTC requires that the materials breakdown quickly in their normal disposal methods. As the normal disposal methods for textiles are recycling or landfill, neither of which environments contain the biological agents needed to break them down, the textiles cannot be called ‘biodegradable.

Three of the four companies charged with making false claims have settled the issue with the FTC by agreeing to no longer make those claims. The fourth, Bamboosa, was still in litigation as of  a few weeks ago.

So, why is bamboo-based fabric still a better option than completely man-made textiles?

  • Its natural antimicrobial properties enable it to be grown without pesticides. The processing does eliminate the natural antimicrobial properties, but at least we are not subject to the possible dangers of pesticides.
  • It is a hardy and renewable resource. Because bamboo plants survive drought and flooding and come to maturity relatively quickly, bamboo may be among the most sustainable plants to use for textiles. And you’re not killing any rain forests in the process.
  • It can apparently be bleached without the use of chlorine.
  • It is easy to dye and therefore doesn’t require harsh chemicals to hold a color.
  • I have also been told that there are ways to create bamboo fabric without using harsh chemicals. My understanding is that the result is a rough, somewhat abrasive fabric – not something you’d want to put on a crib mattress and have right next to your baby’s delicate skin – but I would be on the lookout for other manufacturing methods that may give us the silky products we now know.

The organic cotton story is as simple as the bamboo story is confusing – our crib mattresses are made with cotton that was grown without harmful chemicals, and no harmful chemicals were used in processing. Although bamboo is better than some fabric alternatives, organic cotton is probably the best option.


The Naturepedic Blog Maven

Why We Use Organic Cotton in Our Crib Mattresses

Friday, August 7th, 2009
Why We Use Organic Cotton in Crib Mattresses

Why We Use Organic Cotton in Crib Mattresses

We use organic cotton in all our crib mattresses because we want babies and kids to sleep on something that is safe and healthy. No synthetic pesticides, herbicides, or other chemicals – nothing harmful whatsoever. But it’s not only babies who are affected by these toxins.


My father, for example, just turned 81 and was diagnosed with cancer a couple of years ago. He’s on chemo and responding quite well.


The type of cancer he has is called multiple myeloma. It starts in the blood cells and collects in the marrow and other parts of the bone. Like other cancers, it can kill you. But many people with multiple myeloma live for a long time – although the condition generally roller-coasters between long periods of apparent remission and acute episodes.


What’s different about multiple myeloma is that it is acknowledged as being related to pesticide and herbicide exposure. As with all cancers, there are several other risk factors but, according to The Collaborative on Health and the Environment, pesticides and herbicides are high on the list of those stemming from the environment.


The Collaborative for Health and the Environment

The Collaborative for Health and the Environment

The Collaborative on Health and the Environment, by the way, is a very useful resource. It’s a network of 3000 individuals and organizations in 45 countries, including representation in 48 U.S. states, which has as its mission to “advance knowledge and effective action to address growing concerns about the links between human health and environmental factors.” Check out their database for information on the strength of the evidence connecting multiple myeloma, pesticides and herbicides, as well as links between other diseases and their environmental risk factors.


My father has lived for years in a community that controls pests and weeds with regular use of chemicals. I have never once seen a mosquito at my father’s house, even though he lives right on a canal which should be a strong breeding ground. Nor have I ever seen a weed in my father’s lawn.


If just a few years of living in that kind of environment can contribute to a healthy and robust adult getting cancer, imagine what your baby is up against.


At Naturepedic, we help you avoid the sometimes disastrous effects of pesticide and herbicide exposure by using organic cotton in our crib mattresses and other products. But we also hope to influence the use of toxins overall. If we can accomplish that, more babies and children will be safe, and more grandparents will be around to see them grow up.


The Naturepedic Blog Maven

Back to School Supplies without PVC?

Monday, August 3rd, 2009


You’ve been working hard to keep your child healthy – maybe they’ve even slept on a Naturepedic organic cotton crib mattress! Now it’s time for school, and you’re faced with PVC-laden school supplies. Everything from pretty pink backpacks with images of their favorite characters to Spidey lunchboxes and modeling clay. Chances are they’re made with PVC or PVC/vinyl – one of the very things you’ve been trying to avoid!


PVC-Free School Supplies

To help you keep up all the good work you’ve been doing to keep your kids safe, the Center for Health, Environment and Justice (CHEJ) has just released a new handy wallet guide (although you have to fold it quite a bit to fit it into your wallet) listing the types of back-to-school supplies that are likely to contain PVC.


Even better, the CHEJ took things a step further and also made us a great list of PVC-free school supplies. It contains just about everything – pens and pencils, binders, lunch bags, food wraps, and a lot more. Even cell phones, computer monitors, rain gear and sneakers.


The CHEJ is also a great resource for information on PVC and other toxins that may be harming our environment and our health. Check them out.