I’ve become a sustainable fabric nerd. Seriously, fiber scientists are doing some mind-blowing work these days! Please allow me to geek out for a moment. We use two sustainable fabrics that are considered “Regenerated Cellulose Fibers:” Tencel™ Lyocell and Cupro. These are man-made fibers, but are not considered synthetics because they’re derived from natural materials rather than petroleum.
Cupro is made from the tiny down-like cotton fibers called linter left behind on the seed after it has been processed for conventional cotton fabric. Cupro looks, feels and drapes like silk, but unlike silk, it is not derived from animals so it’s vegan and cruelty-free. One hundred percent Cupro fabric can be machine washed like cotton because…it is cotton. Our Cupro is actually blended with a bit of Ecovero Viscose though, so we recommend hand washing or dry cleaning. Other benefits of Cupro are that it’s biodegradable, strong, elastic, takes dye well, utilizes a waste by-product of cotton processing and is lightweight and breathable.
Tencel™ is a brand name for the fabric commonly called Lyocell in the same way Kleenex is a brand name version of facial tissue. Tencel™ Lyocell is derived from wood pulp from trees–generally beech, birch, bamboo or eucalyptus–grown in sustainably harvested forests. Lyocell is known for being extremely soft and silky. It is also biodegradable and compostable, light, breathable, absorbs moisture, is strong and elastic, resists wrinkles and blends well with other fabrics.
No fabric is perfectly sustainable (though hemp probably comes closest) and that goes for both Lyocell and Cupro. In both instances, chemicals are used in the process of breaking down the cellulose and extruding it into fiber. The chemicals used in Cupro manufacturing are fairly harsh. They can be reused, but do eventually need to be disposed of. The chemicals used in manufacturing Lyocell, however, are non-toxic and can be reused indefinitely in what’s called a “closed loop” system.
So, in a sustainability contest, Lyocell is probably the winner, but Cupro is close behind and just feels so heavenly to wear. See? I told you this stuff was fascinating.