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Eucalyptus: From Trees To Athletic Apparel


Erik de Groot

Eucalyptus tree

Let’s start with a little story. There once was a magician who lived in a kingdom where no one was wearing clothes. Since the king didn’t really like that, he asked that the magician would come up with a solution. The magician saw that there were plenty of trees in the kingdom and figured it would be best to use these trees to make clothing from. He cut the trees down and tried to make clothing out of it. He tried and tried, but it never worked and that’s the end of the story. Not sure if I’ll ever be a good writer for children's books, but I think that it truly is magical how we are able to turn trees into clothing.

TIMBER!
Wait a minute, did you just say turn wood into clothing? Oh yeah! Lyocell, or Tencel (a lyocell brand) as many people know it, is fabric that’s made from eucalyptus trees or other cellulose materials.

Interesting, so how does this work? Well, first you need some eucalyptus trees (duh), which are then cut down and shredded into pieces. After that, the pieces go into a bath of chemicals (usually NMNO) and then you get usable strings to make yarn and fabric from.

But wait Erik … solving cellulose materials in chemicals sound harmful, and haven’t we heard that before in the blog about bamboo? Well done Sherlock, that’s some grade A researching right there! It’s true that the process is similar, but like with many great things, the difference lies in the execution. Lyocell is made in a closed-loop system (no not Elon’s hyperloop, but a closed loop) in which the factories recycle up to 99,9% of the chemicals used, so they don’t have a bad impact on the environment.

lyocell production

Environmental benefits
Besides not dumping lots of chemicals into the environment, which is pretty cool, lyocell has some other environmental benefits. If we compare it to cotton, growing the eucalyptus trees only needs about 20% of the land and 10% of the water that cotton would need. Isn’t that just awesome?! Besides that the 100% lyocell fabrics are also biodegradable, so that’s a win win win no matter what. 

Wearing benefits
Cool benefits, but what if I’m going to wear it? Just like hemp, it’s all natural, which means that it can’t get static on your skin. Besides this lyocell is also good at wicking moisture away from the body and keeps your body cool when you wear it. Great for workouts!

And now for the question, you all have been waiting for: will we as Iron Roots make apparel out of lyocell? Oh yeah! You bet we are going to make clothing out of it very soon. We need a variety of materials like hemp and lyocell to make the industry more sustainable, so not having this in our arsenal would be a crime.

Enjoy your weekend and we’ll see you next Friday!