Why we decided to avoid wool

Why we decided to avoid wool

Written by : Posted on December 18, 2017 : No Comments


I used to think that wool was something natural and innocent (just a bit too itchy for me): all they do is shear off the hair of the animal in the summer – I thought – which then grows back, and they do it again the next year, what’s wrong with it?

Eventually, I made the connection, and I was so disappointed to learn about the cruelty involved in the wool industries, as documented by animal rights groups such as Animals Australia and PETA.

I realized that the image of a fluffy sheep grazing on a green meadow in countryside is a flight of fancy: while bucolic, blissful farms like that may still exist somewhere, the wool we buy does not come from them.

In reality, factory-farmed sheep live in appalling conditions. It’s not just the fact that they are packed in tightly and live in their own filth, but each of these animals is subject to routine mutilation without pain killer. From selective breeding causing unnaturally thick wool to their inevitable slaughter, the wool industry isn’t as innocent as you may imagine. 

Worst of all is a technique called mulesing. Merino sheep produce the most wool because they are bred to have the most folds of skin. Unfortunately all those folds of skin become

breeding grounds for fly infestations around their tail area. The factory farm solution for this problem is to cut huge chunks of skin from the animals’ backsides, in order to create a surface where the flies can’t lay eggs, all without the use of painkillers. And when a sheep’s wool production declines, they are sold for slaughter,  traveling long distances in extremely cramped, crowded and frightening conditions. Many sheep die during the journey from exhaustion, dehydration, stress and injury, and lambs born during the trip are often trampled to death.

Sheep are not the only animals exploited for their wool. Goats, rabbits and alpacas are also commonly used to manufacture angora, cashmere and alpaca wool, with equally cruel procedures


Thankfully there are now a whole host of alternatives to wool fibers available to us: among the astonishing range of durable, stylish, and warm fabrics available that aren’t made from wool or animal skins, we recommend organic cottons, bamboo, hemp, and linen/cotton mixes. In particular, organic cotton makes for a soft and versatile material that is super easy to work with, from cotton fleece to corduroy to velvet, to poplin, to brushed cotton, to denim. Also recycled polyester fleece (from recycled plastic bottles) can be an eco and ethical option since it washes easily, keeps its bright colors and costs less.

Ready for an organic cotton fleece sweater?

Photo credits: Sheep Biegun Wschodni by Unsplash
Lamb SamCarter by Unsplash



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