We use eco-friendly fabrics whenever possible because we believe that every choice can make a difference. In celebration of Earth Day we want to shine a spotlight on one of Stella Carakasi’s favorite fibers to give our customers a deeper understanding of the impact their purchases can make on the environment. As an early eco-adapter, Stella has been using Tencel in her designs since 1996; not just for the incredible softness and drape but because this innovative fiber speaks to her commitment to manufacture clothing in a responsible way.
What Is Tencel?
Tencel is a sustainable fabric, regenerated from wood cellulose. It is obtained from eucalyptus trees that are grown on farms—no old growth forests, genetic manipulation, irrigation or pesticides are used. These forests and the pulp produced for Tencel have earned Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification that the products come from socially and environmentally responsible forests. The European Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification has also endorsed Tencel’s farming practices as sustainable. Tencel eliminates the negative environmental impacts of traditional fiber processing, using new sustainable technologies.
Tencel has some distinct advantages over traditional fibers in terms of chemical processing, which can often be extensive and toxic. For example, Rayon manufacturing generates highly polluting air and water emissions, uses catalytic agents containing cobalt or manganese and creates a strong, unpleasant odor. On the other hand, the chemicals used to produce Tencel fibers are nontoxic.
The cellulose or ground pulp used for Tencel is treated in what is known as a closed loop process in which these solvents are recycled with a recovery rate of 99.5%. The tiny amount of remaining emissions is decomposed in biological purification plants. Because of the nature of the material, the processing never requires bleach. This overall method of manufacturing fabric was awarded the “European Award for the Environment” by the European Union.