Again, the sustainability of rayon depends on the fabric. The two factors that determine whether a fabric is sustainable is the materials it is made from and the process by which it is made.
Regarding the original source of materials, every version of rayon has the potential to be sustainable as the cellulose comes from plants which is a renewable source. Unfortunately, this is not the case.
The overwhelming majority of plants grown for the production of viscose are not grown sustainably which has led to deforestation and major damage to local environments.
Modal is sourced from beech trees. Some brands that use modal fabrics have set up sustainable beech tree forests from which they get their materials. However, other manufacturers or vendors of modal are not as responsible and there are many modal products of the market with unsustainable sources.
As lyocell is one of the newer versions of rayon, the wood pulp required for the cellulose is more often sourced sustainably. To ensure ethical buying, it is best to stick to brands that guarantee that the wood is grown and harvested sustainably such as Tencel™.
The manufacturing method is where most of the damage is done with regards to viscose. It requires a highly pollutive system that uses and wastes numerous toxic chemicals. These chemicals do great damage to not only the surrounding environment, but also to those working with them.
The manufacturing process of modal is less harmful to the environment than for viscose. Branded versions of modal in particular have made the effort to ensure that water use, and toxic chemicals are minimised.
Other methods of modal manufacture retain high water usage and toxic chemicals. Unfortunately, it is difficult for customers to know where their modal products are coming from.
Tencel™ is made using one of the most environmentally friendly production methods of all fabrics. It is created with organic solutions that not harmful to the environment. Additionally, it uses a closed loop system that minimises both water usage and waste.
Lyocell Tencel is not only the best fabric for the environment out of the rayon family, it is also one of the best overall. When choosing sustainable clothing and bedding, Tencel is a solid option for both luxury and sustainability.