Rayon, Viscose, Tencel™ Modal, Tencel™ Lyocell, Bamboo, Cupro, Acetate. What do all these fibers have in common?
They’re all regenerated cellulose fibers. This means they are man-made fibers that are created from cellulose, AKA plant material.
Yay, plants, right? Biodegradable! Compostable! Breathable! Renewable!
Not so fast.
The processes used to create these various fibers and the raw materials used vary greatly by manufacturer and type. And many low-cost viscose rayon and bamboo fibers are made using methods that are hazardous to workers. The viscose method uses chemicals such as Carbon Disulfide (CS2) in its manufacture which can be detrimental to environmental and worker health if not responsibly managed. Additionally, if the raw plant materials used are not responsibly sourced, creating these types of fibers can also lead to the destruction of ancient and endangered forests, which contributes to loss of biodiversity and hastens climate change.
- Less than 20 percent of the world’s ancient forests remain in intact tracts large enough to maintain biological diversity.
- Forests in Indonesia, Canada’s Boreal and temperate rainforests and the Amazon are being logged for next season’s fashion and apparel.
Hanky Panky has always been concerned about the sustainability and environmental impact of manufacturing our products. Our purchasing director audits our suppliers to determine the specific origins of the fibers used in our fabrics. We are pleased with where we are on the great majority of our core, ongoing fabrics and are working with our suppliers where there is room for improvement.
Our Logo to Go and modal sleepwear jersey fabrics are knitted in California with Tencel™ Modal fibers, made by Austrian fiber company Lenzing. Lenzing has long been an industry leader in sustainable fiber production. The raw plant materials used to create our Logo to Go modal jersey are sustainably managed beech trees, grown in Austria and surrounding countries. The beech forests used are FSC® (C041246) or PEFC™ certified.
The beech wood pulp is converted into Modal fibers using a responsibly managed, sustainable process, wherein the water, byproducts created and chemicals used are reclaimed, and either sold as co-products or purified and returned to the environment in the condition they were taken. Additionally, Lenzing’s Tencel™ Modal fibers are EU Ecolabel certified for minimizing their environmental impact along every stage of the fiber production, and as they are manufactured in Austria, they are subject to Austria and the EU’s strict environmental regulations.
Additionally, in order to protect worker health, Lenzing employs the “Best Available Technology which ensures that people are protected from harm. Exposure to CS2 is regulated by law through an occupational exposure limit (OEL) which is an upper limit on the acceptable concentration of a hazardous substance in workplace air. Lenzing complies with the respective legislation, observe limits, ensures a yearly occupational health-check specific for CS2 exposure and provides its workforce with appropriate supervision, training and personnel protective equipment,” according to Lenzing’s Senior Sustainability Expert, Dr. K. Christian Schuster.
Our soft and comfy Heather Jersey is also knitted in California using Lenzing™ viscose rayon fibers, which are created from sustainably sourced wood and are also manufactured using Lenzing’s sustainable and responsibly-managed processes.
ENKA® Filament Viscose
Our luxurious microfiber filament rayon Hanky Panky Silky jersey is knitted in California with fibers produced in Germany and Poland by German fiber manufacturer, ENKA®. In addition, the two-tone cross dyed all-over lace used in our cross dyed signature lace collection is knitted in New Jersey and also uses ENKA filament viscose rayon fibers, blended with nylon. Under the framework of the CanopyStyle Initiative, ENKA is a Rainforest Alliance® certified company, and only sources its raw materials from FSC® certified forests.
Additionally, the fiber production is conducted under the strict environmental regulations of Germany and the EU, so unlike some less responsible viscose producers, no harmful waste is released into the environment, and workers are adequately protected from the substances used in the production. ENKA also employs technology to reclaim as much of the raw materials as possible, minimizing waste and increasing efficiency, regularly monitor their emissions, and also employ an independent monitoring service to ensure that no harmful substances are released into the environment.
As you can see, even superficially similar fabrics made from the same general type of fibers can have very different ecological footprints. If you’re concerned about destructive deforestation and the negative environmental impact of cellulosic fiber production, look for items with branded fibers or reach out to your favorite brands and ask for their fabrics’ “pedigrees,” and any external independent certifications.
Public concern over these issues is causing more and more brands to become increasingly transparent in their sourcing, so hopefully in the near future, this information will be easily accessible to all consumers.