I designed this as the first ad in a series about the impact of animal-based textiles on the environment. It's a bit of a reality check for the eco-fashion crowd. See below for the sources on these facts.
Many people understandably ask, "Ok, I get not wanting to sell fur or leather, but what’s wrong with wool? Isn’t it just a haircut?
Answer: I wish! Momma nature led many animals to evolve in the perfect design when it comes to staying warm and dry in the elements, so it’s no surprise that humans who lack that body-hair want to wear it themselves. Many consider wool sustainable because it’s a ‘natural’ product. But, shockingly, wool production is one of the leading causes of greenhouse gas emissions, water pollution, land erosion, and animal cruelty:
- According to the United Nations, “The world’s sheep population is just over one billion – one for roughly every six people. Nearly half are in Asia and the Near and Middle East. Sheep are the species with the highest number of recorded breeds – contributing 25 percent to the global total for mammals.” (source)
- The impact that livestock (including sheep) has on the environment, is by no means trivial, according to the United Nations Food & Agricultural Organization: http://www.fao.org/newsroom/en/news/2006/1000448/index.html
- One study has shown that in New Zealand, which has approximately 48 million sheep, methane emissions from enteric fermentation, coming mostly from sheep, constitute almost 50% of the nation’s total greenhouse gas emissions. Most scientists acknowledge that this has a significant effect on climate change. Combine that with erosion, water pollution, resource needs like water, graze land, processing needs, etc., and wool starts to appear a lot less sustainable than we’d like to think. http://www.mfe.govt.nz/publications/climate/greenhouse-gas-inventory-2010-snapshot/index.html
- On the Cruel Australian Live Export of Sheep: http://liveexport-indefensible.com/facts/issues.php
- On Ultra-Fine Wool production: http://www.animalsaustralia.org/issues/ultra_fine_wool.php
From an ecological and ethical perspective, I hope this provides some clarity as to Brave GentleMan’s and others’ desire to avoid using any wool for any reason.