We often come across a fabric that we are not quite sure how is made, what it contains, and its level of sustainability. One of those fabrics might be Viscose.
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Viscose is a popular fabric in the fashion industry and used by many brands. But is viscose a sustainable fabric? To answer that question I have created a complete guide to Viscose and you will definitely know whether or not the material is sustainable after reading this guide. So let’s begin…
What is viscose and where does it come from?
Viscose or Rayon as it is called in the US is originally known as artificial silk. The name comes from the way that it is manufactured: “A viscous organic liquid used to make both rayon and cellophane”.
The interesting thing about Viscose is that it is neither truly natural like wool and it is not truly synthetic like nylon or polyester – it’s a mix of both. It is a semi-synthetic type of rayon fabric made from wood pulp and can work as a substitute for silk as it has a similar feel to it.
Viscose can be made from different types of tree wood, including beech, pine, eucalyptus, and bamboo as well. It is semi-synthetic due to many of the chemicals used in the manufacturing process. Some of these chemicals include sodium hydroxide (found in soaps) and the toxic carbon disulfide liquid.
As shown down below – The viscose manufacturing process can be illustrated in 5 steps:
Why we wear viscose
Why do we even wear viscose? – Well, the material feels much like silk making it feel soft and light to wear! This makes it a popular fabric to use in fashion collections because you get the silk-like look for a much cheaper price.
Is viscose good in hot weather?
Besides having the feel of silk – viscose also breath like silk. Viscose can absorb moisture that leaves your skin comfortable and dry throughout the day. Like silk, it is soft and not heavy like cotton for example. It is therefore perfect for those long summer days!
Is viscose a breathable fabric?
There have been some discussions on whether it is as breathable as cotton or other fabrics. Due to its silk-like feel, it does a great job of letting your skin breathe by letting sweat leave your skin more easily than cotton.
Though cotton might be more breathable it is difficult to say which of the fabrics are most breathable. Viscose is definitely one of the most breathable materials so it comes down to preferences.
Is Viscose A Sustainable Fabric?
Viscose is made from plants and therefore we often say that it must be sustainable because of this. No animals were harmed and the material itself seems to be eco-friendly – But is Viscose a sustainable fabric?
Viscose is in its sense human-made – meaning that it is a fabric that has been manufactured as an alternative to the slow and expensive process of manufacturing silk. As stated above, the production of viscose normally begins with wood pulp and then several chemicals are adding for the production of the fiber.
This is where one might take a step back and ask: is it sustainable when harsh chemicals are used? I understand your concern because even though the fabric itself comes from a naturally sustainable source it is blended with harsh chemicals…
Even though this method is not sustainable and I wouldn’t recommend viscose as a sustainable fabric for clothes one might say that it is still a better alternative to other synthetic fibers, such as polyester.
Viscose is increasingly being manufactured using the process called Lyocell. This method produces less waste, making it more eco-friendly than other techniques used in the fashion industry.
Furthermore, people are starting to demand more responsibility from manufacturers and the techniques used for viscose might be more eco-friendly in the near future!
The fabric is strong and fantastic to work with – so fingers are crossed that more eco-friendly methods are being implemented in the manufacturing process in the future. This way it is more sustainable than many other synthetic fabrics.
Is viscose biodegradable?
Viscose is bio-degradable but can take between 20 to 200 years to fully biodegrade. This is due to it being a synthetic material. Therefore it can be argued that it is not fully bio-degradable such as wool or 100% cotton.
Brands taking a more eco-friendly approach to viscose
There are alot of brands joining a more sustainable approach to viscose and listed down below your find five brands that you can shop at with ease at mind!
Due to the many places still not using eco-friendly methods to manufacture viscose I would not consider it as a sustainable fabric just yet. Though many brands are starting to use more eco-friendly techniques and this could help make it more sustainable.
If you liked this textile guide then check out our guide on the production of sustainable fashion or learn more about sustainable fashion in general right here. Also, remember to leave a comment down below or send us a message if you have any questions.