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How Are Trees ‘Sustainably Harvested’ For Micromodal And Tencel Fabrics?

If you’re on a mission to promote sustainable forestry, we salute you! Over 25% of the world’s population relies on forest resources for their livelihoods. Forests provide fuel for cooking, warmth, medicinal plants, food, wildlife habitat, clean water, clothing… the list goes on. Richard Powers, author of Pulitzer Prize winning novel The Overstory, said it best: “This is not our world with trees in it. It's a world of trees, where humans have just arrived.” It’s up to us to treat this world in which we live with love, compassion, and care.

The Rainforest-Alliance defines sustainable forestry as “the extent to which forestry practices mimic natural patterns of disturbance and regeneration.” At its core, sustainable forestry embodies balance; balancing the needs of the environment, wildlife, and forest communities with those of the rest of the world.

Clothing brands like IMBODHI and our manufacturers understand the importance of using sustainable fabrics when making our garments.Two of the most sustainable fibers are Tencel and Modal, which have become increasingly popular among eco-friendly clothing brands in recent years. Both Tencel and Micromodal are soft, smooth, strong, durable, and drape well. Best of all, the trees that are used to make them are sustainably harvested.

Tencel as a Sustainable Fabric

Tencel (a brand name fabric made of Lyocell fibers created by the Austrian textile company Lenzing AG) is made using regenerated cellulose fibers. This means it is partially synthetic and partially natural. Generic Lyocel is made using wood pulp from oak and birch trees, but Lenzing Tencel is made from Eucalyptus wood that is sustainably harvested from natural forests and sustainably managed tree farms.

If you’re unfamiliar with Eucalyptus trees, you’ll be happy to learn that these are some of the best trees to use for sustainable production. They grow quickly and use significantly less water than cotton, which means they can be sustainably grown and harvested without depleting a lot of resources.. What’s more, the process for harvesting Eucalyptus wood for Tencel is also sustainable in and of itself.

  1. First, bare Eucalyptus tree trunks are chopped into small wood chips.
  2. Then they are put in a giant container filled with a non-toxic anime oxide solution. This solution breaks the Eucalyptus wood pulp down into a semi-liquid paste.
  3. Next, a special tool is used to eject the paste to form fiber threads.
  4. Last, the threads are processed into yarn that can be used to produce sustainably made fabric for clothing.

To add to these sustainably harvested practices, Tencel is made using a closed-loop process. This means that more than 99% of the solvents used within the process are recycled, making Tencel eco-friendly, sustainable, and environmentally conscious.

Micromodal as a Sustainable Fabric

Both Modal and Micromodal fibers share many of the properties as Tencel. Where Tencel uses sustainably managed Eucalyptus wood, Micromodal comes from specially treated European beech wood trees. The pulp gets processed in a way that dissolves the cellulose, which is then spun into fibers. Manufacturing Micromodal in this way uses 10-20 times less water than cotton. Additionally, beech trees are some of the most commonly-grown trees throughout the Northern Hemisphere, which makes using them a responsible way to contribute to sustainable forestry. Additionally, Micromodal also uses a closed loop production process to further contribute to sustainable manufacturing methods. 

Now that you know just how sustainable Tencel and Micromodal are, the only thing left to do is to wear them yourself! Slip into clothes made from these ultra-soft fabrics and you’ll instantly see why we and other sustainable clothing manufacturers love them so much.  

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