Is Viscose Bad for the Environment?

As one of the most commonly used fabrics, it is only fair that we get the answer to this million-dollar question. Is viscose bad for the environment?

That’s especially because the material comes from trees. Under such circumstances, concerns about its sustainability often arise.

As a burning environmental issue, it is only fair that one puts the matter to rest. It is important to understand it better, including analyzing its environmental impact.

What is Viscose

As mentioned earlier, viscose is a fabric that’s quite famous in the fashion sector. There are two main reasons why the fabric is quite common;

It is more durable and cheaper than silk. On the other hand, it is more sustainable than polyester and cotton.

It makes various clothing items, including synthetic velvet, soft blouses, skirts, and dresses. Besides clothes, the fabric also plays a significant role in manufacturing some cellophane, carpets, bedding, and upholstery.

Features of Viscose

What are the good and the bad sides of viscose?

Advantages of Viscose

Various features make viscose the third most popular fabric globally. They include the following;

  • It doesn’t build up any static
  • It is also relatively cheap and thus affordable to everyone, including those working with a tight budget
  • Viscose is soft thus, comfortable
  • It is sturdy and robust, which promotes its longevity
  • The fabric is pretty light too
  • It won’t trap any body heat, which enhances its comfort further
  • It is smooth
  • Viscose is highly absorbent to ensure that the wearer stays cool and dry throughout
  • Its excellent color retention and how well it holds on to its dye ensures that it doesn’t fade away over time
  • Its versatility is also indisputable, thus blending well with various fibers
  • It drapes well and is suitable for clothes that need a flowing silhouette, such as dresses and skirts
  • It is hypoallergenic
  • Lastly, it is breathable hence suitable for bedding and dry weather clothes
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Disadvantages of Viscose

On the other hand, other features are discouraging. It is most likely why it isn’t the most popular fabric.

These negative features include the following;

  • Its fibers become weak when wet hence unsuitable for clothes that often need cleaning
  • It is also prone to mildew
  • Too much exposure to light has dire consequents
  • It is also susceptible to wrinkles
  • It is also possible for viscose to shrink after washing or stretch after wearing
  • Its resistance to chemicals and heat also leaves a lot to be desired

Nevertheless, the negatives are often the consequences of improper care and the use of the fabric. Therefore, they are often avoidable if you wash and wear varicose correctly.

Is Viscose Bad for the Environment?

When looking at the environmental friendliness of viscose, we will highlight two important aspects. One is the source of raw material and the other is its manufacturing process.

Viscose Raw Materials

First, the main raw viscose material is a natural fiber from plants and trees. They are natural and renewable hence great for the environment.

Manufacturers outsource the wood plump from various trees and plants, including the following;

  • Beech
  • Bamboo
  • Eucalyptus
  • Hemlock
  • Sugarcane
  • Soy
  • Spruce
  • Pine

Viscose Manufacturing Process

Whereas wood pulp is natural and renewable, the process it undergoes to transform into viscose is far from it. These are the steps of its manufacturing process;

  • The manufacturer will turn the plant or tree to a brown pulp by adding sodium hydroxide
  • This dissolved pulp passes through rollers, thus removing any excess liquid besides forming sheets
  • Next is the formation of fiber by shredding and treating the sheets using carbon disulfide
  • The manufacturer will then treat the fibers before dissolving them in sulphuric acid or sodium hydroxide to form viscose which is s cellulose solution
  • Filtration of the cellulose solution to remove anything that fails to dissolve
  • Removal of any trapped air bubbles through degassing
  • Forcing the solution into tiny holes called spinnerets, thus forming long fiber strands known as regenerated cellulose
  • Spanning the regenerated cellulose fibers into yarns ready to make viscose fabric
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Such toxic materials make it hard not to question their environmental friendliness. One would argue that the final product may lack these toxic substances, but that doesn’t change the manufacturing process.

Besides, disposing of these chemicals is also a challenge. Its process poses a danger to the environment and, above all, the workers who work in such plants.

For example, sulphuric and caustic soda adversely affects the eyes and skin. On the other hand, carbon disulfide damages the skin, nerves, liver, heart, blood, kidneys, and eyes.

These toxic substances have also led to water pollution, especially around the manufacturing plants.

Some manufacturers are even watering down the positive aspect of viscose. That’s because they are sourcing the wood pulp from endangered forests.

So, how bad viscose is to the environment depends on where the manufacturer gets the wood pulp. As for the manufacturing process, there isn’t much that one can do.

Is Viscose Biodegradable?

Viscose is more biodegradable than even the likes of cotton. However, it isn’t advisable to throw it away anyhow.

That’s because it is not purely bio gradable. During its manufacturing, other impurities are introduced, including synthetic dyes.

Therefore, don’t destroy the environment by throwing the fabric all over.

Conclusion

Is viscose bad for the environment? It comes from plants and trees, thus natural, renewable, and sustainable.

Regardless, they cause some environmental issues which can’t be ignored. So, from the above discussion, it is evident that viscose is bad for the environment.

For instance, most manufacturers obtain wood pulp from endangered forests. In addition, transforming the wood pulp into viscose requires toxic substances, especially chemicals.

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Viscose is biodegradable, but its synthetic fraction isn’t. Again, that leads to a situation where throwing viscose away carelessly will harm the environment.

However, it is fair to mention that it is a better alternative than most fabrics. Some are fully synthetic, whereas others are unsustainable.

It has advantages and disadvantages, and the former outweighs the latter. So, as much as there is room for improvement, it is a better option, especially for environment enthusiasts.