Sustainable Fabric Feature: Lyocell


If you’ve decided to make the shift towards a more sustainable wardrobe, then you’ll definitely be excited to learn about lyocell. As much as we love stretchy yoga pants and leggings, traditional fabrics that create that elasticity – like lycra or spandex – can be really damaging to the environment in terms of how they’re made, as well as the tiny particles that are shed each time they’re washed. Knowing more about the fabrics that we wear every day helps us to make informed choices when we’re shopping, and to understand what we’re investing in.

What makes lyocell eco-friendly?

Known as the brand name Tencel, lyocell is made from dissolving wood pulp and spinning it into usable fabric fibers. While there are still chemicals involved in the creation process, there aren’t any toxic byproducts produced, which makes it a safer and more sustainable material. Remember to do your homework – not all brands of lyocell use wood pulp from responsibly managed forests, which can certainly have a negative impact on the environment.

Benefits of Lyocell:

1) It’s super breatheable

If there’s one thing you ask of your workout clothing, it’s that it be breatheable so that your sweat and body heat aren’t trapped against your skin. Gone is that feeling of plastic-y yoga tights that slow down your practice and feel like they’re glued to your legs.

2) Anti-bacterial

Due to the fact that this material is highly absorbable, moisture doesn’t linger on the skin and you avoid bacteria buildup. This also helps in the odor department!

3) Less water wasted

The process for creating lyocell does not require as much water as rayon (a comparable functional fabric) – nor does it create chemical waste that contaminates the water in the process. Besides the wood pulp being a renewable resource, the manufacturers are also able to reduce their water consumption and environmental impact.

4) Durability

Lyocell is made to be a durable fabric, which means that your garments will last longer. The fibers are strong which helps increase their longevity and you won’t notice thinning or wear marks on the knees or elbows.

While lyocell definitely has its benefits, the price point on garments is usually higher than you might see for cotton products, which can be off-putting for some consumers. However, if you take good care of your garments, they will last much longer and you’ll more use out of them in the long run, so you won’t have to replace them as often. Once your garments have reached the end of their life cycles, they can always be repurposed into cleaning rags or bedding for animal beds. If you can’t possibly repurpose the material again, don’t worry – lyocell is biodegradable so you can rest easy knowing it won’t be sitting in a landfill.