Viscose is a substitute for the luxurious silk fabric as it’s cheaper to produce. It’s made from wood pulp, is the third most used textile in the world and about 6 million tonnes of this fibre is produced every year. Its carbon footprint is 15kg of C02 per 1kg of fabric. Even though it’s origins are in wood pulp doesn’t mean the fibre is natural as the amount of chemical processing it goes through makes it semi-synthetic. The chemicals used in the processing of it pollutes the air and water surrounding the manufacturing sites. One of the main chemicals used is carbon disulfide, which has caused serious problems to the health of the factory workers and the communities surrounding the factories.
Deforestation is a huge environmental issue when it comes to this fabric as the wood it comes from are often not sustainably managed meaning huge areas of forest are simply wiped out and not replaced. Often this is done illegally. It’s a bit like the Palm Oil of fabric. The worst part? 70% of the tree is wasted when it’s being processed and turned into viscose.
Lyocell is the best alternative to viscose in terms of sustainability and the environment. Basically the chemicals used in making it are safer than those used in making viscose and they’re also not released into the waterways. The wood pulp comes from sustainably managed forests which don’t require pesticides.
So, what can you so? Opt for a natural fibre or lyocell if you can. Buy from sustainable and responsible brands. Hit your pre-loved, vintage or charity shops.