Organic Wool: Can Wool Be Ethical & Sustainable?

Giada Nizzoli

Organic Wool: Can Wool Be Ethical & Sustainable?

Wool is one of the softest and cosiest materials of all time!

While we immediately think of fluffy sheep, it can come from other animals too, such as goats, rabbits, llamas, alpacas and musk oxen.

However, some questions that we get fairly often in the ethical fashion world are: 

  • Is wool sustainable?
  • Can it be ethical?
  • And what is organic wool?

Since livestock is involved, we don’t think it can be a simple yes or no question, so let’s look into it together.

Pros of using wool

Organic wool

It’s natural

Because wool is entirely natural, it’s renewable and doesn’t translate into the high carbon footprint involved with the production of most synthetic fibres. 

In fact, after hemp, wool has a smaller footprint than other textile fibre.

It’s biodegradable

The fact that wool is found in nature has another huge perk: it biodegrades. 

Again, this is another massive advantage over synthetic fibres that can take hundreds of years to decompose.

It doesn’t involve any microplastics

Polluting oceans and ending up in our bellies when we eat fish, microplastics are another huge problem of synthetic fibres. 

Because wool is 100% natural, it doesn’t shed any when we wash it. 

Oh, and about that...

You rarely need to wash woollen clothes

Wool is a special fabric: it’s naturally odour-, stain- and crease-resistant. 

This means that you hardly ever need to wash it and iron it, saving water and energy.

It’s durable

A woollen garment will last you for many years thanks to this fibre’s natural properties. 

It can literally be bent more than 20,000 times without breaking.

What does this mean in sustainable talk? Simple: less waste!

It’s easy to recycle

Wool is the most reused and recyclable fibre, so its lifecycle doesn’t end when you eventually get tired of a garment. 

While the fact that it’s biodegradable is still a reassuring benefit, we love that it can easily be reused, too.

Cons of using wool

Sheep used for wool production

Its production can involve unethical practices

Unfortunately, some farmers employ dodgy shortcuts to keep the costs low or speed up the process. 

For example, some sheep are kept in cramped conditions or on overgrazed land.

To sheer them faster, some farmers end up cutting their skin and, to prevent parasitic infections, some others rely on mulesing, a controversial practice that consists of removing strips of their skin.

It involves livestock

The main reason behind the wool debate is the fact that animals are involved. 

Even when they’re treated well, not everyone is comfortable wearing animal products, which is why wool is obviously not suitable for vegans.

Furthermore, intensive sheep farming can harm the environment in other ways, like increasing land degradation and still contributing to carbon emissions.

What is organic wool?

Organic wool (also referred to as ‘ethically sourced wool’) is wool that comes from farms that approach it from a sustainable and ethical point of view, putting both sheep and the environment first.

For example, they don’t rely on mulesing and take extra care to promote soil regeneration.

Organic wool jumper

Is organic wool sustainable?

Overall, wool is one of the most sustainable fabrics but we believe that organic wool is even eco-friendlier and, especially, more ethical.

This is because, as well as maintaining all the environmentally friendly benefits of traditional wool, it’s also produced in a more conscious way.

Our tip is to choose organic wool or buy it from companies that are transparent about their sourcing practices.

On Project Cece, you can find tons of sustainable woollen clothes from several fair trade companies. Just use our handy filters to narrow down your search!

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