The Ultimate Guide to Organic Wool
Wool is undoubtedly one of the most versatile fabrics; from cosy knitwear and luxury tailoring to carpets and upholstery, this natural fibre is world-renowned for its quality. Unfortunately, not all wool is created equal. Arm yourself with the tools for a sustainable wardrobe by exploring everything you need to know about organic wool.
Is wool ethical?
While wool is not considered vegan or 100% cruelty-free due to being sourced from animals (although unlike fur, sheep are not killed for their wool), wool is generally seen as a sustainable fabric choice because in contrast to synthetic fibres, it is completely recyclable and biodegradable and even helps absorb carbon from the atmosphere. Not to mention it’s high performance, making it the ideal choice for long-lasting, luxurious products that are unlikely to fall apart like ‘disposable’ fast fashion.
However, there is a huge problem with wool production that the fashion industry rarely talks about - chemicals. Traditional farms treat their animals with antibiotics and wormers, and the sheep consume feed and graze land that is treated with pesticides, insecticides and fungicides. Many of these thousands of toxic chemicals are classified as hazardous by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and impact upon soil quality, biodiversity and even human health.
Non-organic wool production also has negative impacts upon animal welfare. Over 1 billion sheep are used for their wool in the fashion industry alone, and sadly, many of these beautiful creatures are not leaping around and grazing freely in lush meadows, but instead being confined in small spaces, overfed by force, filled with antibiotics, roughly sheared and even violently mistreated, according to PETA.
Luckily, it’s not just cotton that can be organic (more on organic cotton here) - wool can be certified for its organic properties too. So, let’s dive into all things organic wool, including its surprising benefits to people, animals and the planet, plus how to incorporate the sustainable fabric into your own wardrobe.
What is organic wool?
Organic wool, certified by GOTS or OEKO-Tex, is the ethical and sustainable alternative to traditional wool production. It has three major benefits - for the environment, for animal welfare and for human health and wellbeing.
Firstly, the use of chemicals is carefully restricted both in the agricultural stage and in the fibre processing stage, which means that all textiles must meet strict requirements for environmental safety. This limits toxic residues running off into water systems, and helps protect soil health. Plus, with organic wool, sheep are fed mainly through grazing, which helps fertilise the land and encourage biodiversity, while the remainder of their diet is 100% organic feed.
When it comes to our four-legged friends, fortunately organic wool also helps support better animal welfare standards. Organic certifications ensure that sheep reared for their wool must be allowed to roam and graze freely with plenty of outdoor space in their natural habitat; much more humane conditions than exploitative factory farms. Wellbeing is the number one priority for organic sheep farmers, with food, shelter and transport all considered carefully to minimise stress and discomfort. Additionally, diseases are treated with a preventative approach, avoiding excessive routine treatment with antibiotics and pesticides.
Last but not least, organic wool is immeasurably better for our own health. Because of the restrictions on chemical use, organic clothing avoids the toxic residues of traditional fabric production that can cause allergies, rashes, carcinogenic effects, respiratory problems and even nervous system damage. Without a doubt, organic wool is the smart choice for people, animals, and for the planet.
Organic wool clothing
As part of our sustainable capsule collection, we’ve designed the perfect pair of smart black trousers to take you from desk to dinner and beyond. Crafted from organic wool, the fabric is certified by GOTS, the Global Organic Textiles Standard, so you can be sure that no pesticides or other nasty chemicals were used to rear the sheep. The wool is sourced from Argentina and transformed into superfine, luxurious, lightweight fabric in Italy. The trousers are lovingly designed and made right here in London. Find out more and shop now here.