Updated: Apr 17
In essence, EcoVero is viscose.
While Lenzing EcoVero has been touted as one of the most eco friendly fibers on the market, it is completely understandable if you are still on the fence. The word “viscose” in itself doesn’t exactly scream sustainability, and these days every company is quick to claim that they are "eco responsible", regardless of what is actually going on behind the scenes. So when it comes to Lenzing EcoVero Viscose, does it actually get us any closer in our fight for a cleaner environment? Or is Lenzing greenwashing (making false claims about sustainability), just as so many have before them?
Let's find out!
What is viscose, and is it actually sustainable?
Viscose is a biodegradable semi-synthetic cellulose (plant based) fiber made from wood pulp. Its properties are similar to that of silk, so it is often used as a less expensive and vegan friendly substitute. While the plant based nature of viscose is a great start, the real sustainability gauge of viscose fibers lies within the details of their production.
As you can probably guess, not all viscose has been created with the same level of care, and I wouldn’t go around blindly buying any textile or garment with the vague word written across its label. In most instances, the cellulosic fibers of viscose textile are in fact very unsustainable, having been manufactured through incredibly irresponsible means.
Viscose, Deforestation, and Toxic Chemicals
The vast majority of viscose producers worldwide do not have a reputation for meeting high environmental standards. As a fiber derived from wood pulp, it is no surprise that the more negligent methods of viscose production contribute majorly to large scale deforestation, including that of ancient forests. To rub salt in the planetary wound, the chemicals used in viscose production are horrendous. This toxic cocktail includes dangerous amounts of carbon disulphide (CS2), a volatile chemical solvent used also in pesticides. CS2 is highly toxic, and acute exposure has been known to cause psychosis, decreased sperm count, and dementia, just to name a few.
The short sighted nature of these production methods have become the norm for today's fashion industry, a devastating byproduct of an overzealous capitalist society. A combination of already disgustingly wealthy corporations obsessed with making more money at any cost, and of consumers who, in their willful ignorance, decide that keeping up with the latest skirt trend is somehow of more importance than the health and wellbeing of the very hands who made said skirt.
Yes, it makes me angry, and I hope it makes you angry too.
This reality is grim, I won't pretend otherwise, but with the rise of compassionate and educated consumers, alongside new and exciting innovations in manufacturing fabrics and clothing, I am hopeful.
So, Is Ecovero Better Than Normal Viscose?
Nicknamed “The new standard in eco-responsible viscose", Austria's Lenzing is touted as one of the top viscose producers worldwide. Unlike generic viscose, Lenzing ecovero viscose is not produced from just any old trees, but from certified and top ranking sustainably managed forests.
While yes, many of the same harmful chemicals are used in production (as a manufactured cellulose fiber, some degree of chemical intervention is a given), the manufacturing method for Ecovero ensures that the vast majority of these chemicals are recovered to be reused, rather than lazily washed away into some struggling village's local water supply. This responsible production process puts Ecovero fabric at the top of the list for today's most ethical and sustainable textiles, making it a go to for those looking to lead a sustainable lifestyle.
Canopy (a non profit environmental protection agency) has consistently ranked Lenzing as one of the best performing viscose producers on the planet, and their fibers have been certified with EU Ecolabel.
If these glowing references weren't enough, Lenzing is committed to exhibiting total supply chain transparency, meaning that every step of the process, from forest to garment, is totally trackable. New standard, indeed!
EcoVero and Its Effects On Water Quality
Compared to nasty generic viscose, EcoVero's eco responsible production process has a 50% lower water impact compared generic viscose. In addition to this impressive statistic, the water they do use is cleaned and returned to nature.
EcoVero and Its Effects on Air Quality
Compared to your run of the mill unregulated viscose textile, Higg Material Sustainability Index (tools provided by the Sustainable Apparel Coalition) have calculated that this fiber production method produces up to 50% lower CO2 emissions into the air.
Lenzing's Tree Pulp Sourcing Practices
The production of EcoVero cellulose fibers uses trees harvested via controlled environments like The Forest stewardship council (FSC) and The Program for Endorsement of Forest Certification Schemes (PEFC), both of which insure that all wood has been sourced exclusively from sustainably managed forests.
With forest loss and damage being the cause of a whopping 10% of global warming, sourcing sustainable wood pulp from such credible certified renewable wood sources is a game changer in conscious fashion's fight against climate change.
EcoVero Fabric Properties
The benefits of EcoVero don't stop at its high environmental standards. EcoVero viscose fibers have a reputation for being woven into some of the softest and most luxurious fabrics on the market.
As a designer who puts a huge emphasis on comfort, the discovery of Lenzing fibers has been a game changer. The EcoVero textiles that make up my dresses and kimonos feel absolutely luxurious on my sensitive skin. They are soft with a touch of sheen, have a delicately brushed hand, are breathable, and thus far have proven to be durable. They hold both natural dyes and reactive inks well, and are visibly just as opulent as they are to the touch. While this does have much to do with the mill that produced said fabric, the fiber itself obviously plays a huge factor.
The Cons of EcoVero
The only real downside to note so far is a low wrinkle resistance, but this is pretty standard for a natural fiber, and with a bit of steam or a quick ironing, the wrinkles smooth out easily in my experience.
How to Care for EcoVero Fabric
It is important to note that exposing any viscose to high temperatures should be avoided. To prolong your EcoVero garment's life, wash in lukewarm water and line dry in a shaded area, or machine dry on a low heat setting.
The search for textiles that measured up to my high standards was neither easy, nor brief. It was, in actuality, the biggest and most strenuous hurdle I faced in starting my fashion company. Truly sustainable fabrics are difficult to come by.
My plans were put on hold for years, as fabric after fabric failed the tests they were put to. I needed sustainable, I needed ethical, I needed luxurious, and I needed so buttery soft that when I’d slip it on, I’d nearly forget that I was wearing clothes at all. I wanted fabric that didn’t compromise, and Lenzing delivered. With their sky high environmental standards, a commitment to sourcing sustainable wood from certified renewable wood sources, and their highly efficient usage rate of water, it's no wonder that they are one of the top performing viscose producers worldwide, and my current go to for my own clothing company.
Lenzing alone is not the solution to fashion's every wrongdoing, but in the fight to combat climate change, it is a huge step in the right direction. The fashion industry is a brutal place. Anytime that we, as designers or consumers, can have a lower environmental impact and a more positive effect on industry workers, we must choose to do so.