Oh, how I love our new(ish) Button Skirt, in all its fabulousness! Between the incredibly charming buttons, the comfort, and the fact that it goes with practically everything, what's not to like? Better yet, it's made from Tencel, an extremely "eco" material.
Tencel is the trademarked brand of Lyocell fiber produced by the Austrian company Lenzig AG, one of the largest manufactures of man-made fibers (such as modal, rayon, and viscose) in the world. Man-made--or cellulose--fibers sort of straddle the divide between natural ones, such as cotton, linen, or silk, and synthetic materials like polyester or nylon. To make a long story short, manufacturers take a natural source of cellulose--for example: wood, bamboo, or eucalyptus--turn it into pulp, then do very unnatural things to it, allowing them to spin the fibers into pretty much anything they want (which explains why rayon, modal, etc., can all look and feel so different from garment to garment). Unfortunately, the systems for processing the fibers tend to be fairly chemically intensive; what makes Tencel so amazing is that Lenzig AG has managed to make the operation a 99% closed-loop cycle. To boot, they even use FSC-certified sources of cellulose grown on land unsuitable for farming!
For anyone interested in learning more about fabric, fashion, and the environment, I highly recommend Future Fashion White Papers, a great collection of essays revolving around these topics.
Happy Earth Day, everyone!