Wool is an all-natural fibre grown on sheep. Sheep are part of the natural carbon cycle, consuming organic carbon stored in pasture which has converted CO2 from the atmosphere into organic compounds via photosynthesis (underpins most life on earth), and converting it to wool. So, when you purchase a wool garment, you are purchasing carbon stored from the atmosphere 1-2 years earlier. By comparison, the carbon in major synthetic clothing fibres e.g. polyester, acrylic, is extracted from fossil fuels (carbon stored millions of years ago).
The loss of fibres from synthetic textiles during washing, and their persistence in aquatic ecosystems, is an area of major concern. Wool’s natural properties support less frequent, lower impact washing and its fibres do not accumulate in the environment but breakdown naturally into harmless compounds. If ingested, they are unlikely to persist and cause harm in organisms because wool is essentially protein.
Due to wool fibre’s durability, wool garments are inherently suitable for re-use and recycling. Mechanical recycling of wool knitwear yields fibres of sufficient length to be carded and re-spun into yarns of pure wool or blends for converting back into knitwear (closed loop recycling – the ideal recycling path). The average life of a wool garment is 2-10 years depending on use, compared to 2-3 years for a typical cotton or synthetic garment.
Finally, at the end of its life, wool easily decomposes, releasing its valuable nutrients into the soil in a relatively short period, unlike synthetics. Tests show that in ideal conditions, wool products are almost completely degraded after 6 months in the ground whilst synthetic clothing can take 30-40 years contributing to the ever-increasing piles of landfill waste. In the UK alone, around 350,000 tonnes of used clothing go to landfill every year.
Wool is the obvious choice for anyone concerned about the health of our planet.
Paula Williams, Founder of BRITISH design BRITISH made, 64 High Street, Battle, TN33 0AG, helping you to buy British. What you buy here will not have arrived from far flung places or travelled thousands of miles by air and sea. We use 100% renewable electricity, every drop made from British sun, wind and rain. We aim to re-use or recycle at least 90% supplier packaging to reduce landfill. We seek out and promote products that are made with sustainable or recycled materials.