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What Is Viscose, And Is It Sustainable?

by Toni Olukiran

1min read

As fashions continue to change and we rethink our consumption of clothing, we’re also paying closer attention to what our clothes are made from. So what is viscose, a fabric used often in clothing manufacturing — and is it sustainable?

What is viscose?

Viscose is a semisynthetic material and is the third most used fabric in the world (after cotton and polyester). It is also used to make other materials such as silk or velvet and was actually created as an alternative to silk, having been invented in 1892. 

Is viscose natural?

Viscose is derived from wood pulp, so it technically comes from a natural source. The wood pulp is typically sourced from eucalyptus, beech, bamboo and sugarcane. 

Is viscose sustainable?

As many often cite the amount of plastic and polyester in fashion being a major problem, it makes sense to think that viscose is a sustainable material seeing as it does come from the aforementioned natural sources. However, it isn’t sustainable if space is cleared in forests and rainforests to make space for plantations farming the wood pulp. Deforestation for these purposes leads to endangering ecosystems, threatening endangered species, and also encroaching on the spaces of indigenous communities. As viscose is used by many fast fashion brands, there is a rapidly growing amount of plantations in order to keep up with the demand for ever-changing clothing cycles. 

As well as this, the production of viscose is not very sustainable either. It is made using chemicals that pollute the environment and can enter waterways and make them toxic. It is also an incredibly wasteful process, as it takes lots of water and electricity to make it, and 70% of the tree itself is wasted in order to get to the pulp. 

Want to know how you can buy clothes and stay sustainable? Check out our guides here.

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By Toni Olukiran
Toni Olukiran

Toni is one of our lovely Content Marketing Assistants, and when she’s not writing posts about everything from Jamaican cooking to vegan champagne, she’s making a Spotify playlist (she was at 200, at her last count) or playing tennis in the park.

Read more from Toni


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