Welcome Green Monsters! We're your online guide to making conscious choices that help people, animals and the planet.
single

Tips on Staying Warm and Fashionable Without Wool

Tips on Staying Warm and Fashionable Without Wool

If you live in a cold climate you know how much we rely on wool when it comes to staying warm. Coats, hats, sweaters, scarves, gloves, socks, blankets…you name it, it’s made of wool. It is also a less obvious example of animal suffering in the fashion industry, and as a result, it is often overlooked or misunderstood.

People regularly stare at me wide-eyed when I tell them I don’t wear wool for ethical reasons. Say, what? “Sheep aren’t killed to make wool,” they say. “They are just sheared which is a natural process and doesn’t harm the sheep.” Sadly, neither of those statements is really true. Then, while still in a state of disbelief, they say, “If you don’t wear wool, what do you wear?”

Since we are smack dab on the middle of winter in the northern hemisphere, let’s take a look at each of these concerns:

1. Do sheep die for us to wear wool? The answer is yes. Not immediately, of course, (although some do as a result of the farming conditions) but once they become unproductive wool producers they are shipped off to slaughter – much younger than they would be if they died a natural death. So, yes, just like dairy cows, once they are past their prime they are killed. While we don’t have to slaughter them to obtain their wool, we are ultimately responsible for their death.

2. Does shearing harm the sheep? We have purposely bred domesticated sheep to have extra folds in their skin thereby creating more wool per sheep. As a result, unlike wild sheep who shed their wool naturally, if domesticated sheep are not shorn they can die from heat exhaustion and other issues related to too much wool being produced. That said, they are often sheared in the early spring before it is actually warm enough for them to be comfortable without their wool (which, of course, they grow to protect them from cold temperatures) and, as a result, some die from exposure.

When it comes to shearing, sure, some small farmers might do it delicately but all you have to do is take a look around the stores to realize that absolutely massive amounts of wool are being produced, and the bulk of it is not being done by small farmers. The wool industry is a huge agribusiness, and the sheep are their “product.” Time is of the essence, and if great care is not taken when shearing, it can be extremely stressful to the sheep and result in serious injuries.

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the journey from sheep to sweater. You can learn more at Vegan Peace or Vegan Means.

3. What do you wear instead of wool? Of course we have to keep warm in the winter. That’s a given. The good news is that you do not have to rely on wool to help you stay warm and cozy. Yes, you might have to look around a bit more and definitely read labels, but there are other options available. Here are three pretty options:

The truth is that the more we insist on cruelty-free fashions the more designers will produce them – whether from the goodness of their hearts or because there is money to be made. Either way the animals win and by default so do we.

The information here is only the tip of the iceberg. If this is new news to you, do some research on how wool is produced, look for alternatives and support the companies, like Vaute Couture, that are committed to cruelty-free, eco-friendly fashion. In the long run we all benefit!

Update (February 23, 2012): Did I mention that it’s important to read the label carefully? While at first glance the fabrics used (such as cotton, acrylic, nylon, rayon, viscose, etc.) might fit the bill, if you keep reading you might find a little wool, cashmere or mohair (which comes from goats who also suffer terribly from exposure and are commonly sent to slaughter once they outlive their usefulness) on the list. My apologies for missing the mohair listed in one of the examples above and thank you to the kind soul who pointed it out graciously to me.”

Browse through some recent posts below:


Disclosure: One Green Planet accepts advertising, sponsorship, affiliate links and other forms of compensation, which may or may not influence the advertising content, topics or articles written on this site. Click here for more information.

5 comments on “Tips on Staying Warm and Fashionable Without Wool”

Sign on with:
Click to add comment
Annette
2 Years Ago

Farming sheep for wool is still done, by far, by small farms, at least it is in Australia (where I am) Yes, the sheep have been bred to produce more and finer wool but they are well cared for and humanely dealt with at all times (my husband's family used to breed merinos for wool so I have first hand knowledge of this). Personally, and with this knowledge, I prefer to wear natural fibres like wool - it's warm, it breathes and it lasts when looked after - rather than synthetics that make you sweat, feel awful to the touch and are made from a barrel of oil (and all the damage that drilling for oil does to the environment).


Reply
Ginger Burr
23 Feb 2012

Thanks, Annette. My belief, as a vegan, is that animals are not ours to use for any reason. That said, it's wonderful that the sheep near you are treated well but, to be honest, with most farmed animals because of the huge demand throughout the world for both food and clothing purposes (and beyond), they are not being raised kindly and wreak havoc on the environment. So, while I do wear cotton a lot (which has its own set of problems) and synthetic materials (perhaps the choices in the US are different from those in Australia) which certainly do have an environmental impact (thank you for the article), I still choose these over animal derived fabrics that hurt animals and, in most cases, have a very negative environmental footprint.

Martina
21 Oct 2012

Annette it seems that you totally missed on the existence of the massive Australian wool industry and its famously horrible practice of mulesing: "In Australia, where more than 50 percent of the world's merino wool—which is used in products ranging from clothing to carpets—originates, lambs are forced to endure a gruesome procedure called "mulesing," in which huge chunks of skin and flesh are cut from the animals' backsides, often without any painkillers." Read the whole Peta report here: http://www.peta.org/issues/animals-used-for-clothing/wool-industry.aspx

Joya P
2 Years Ago

The Kate Hill cardigan you link to lists mohair in the fiber content. Mohair comes from angora goats.


Reply
Ginger Burr
23 Feb 2012

Thanks, Joya, Yes, I did unfortunately notice that after the fact. I can't believe I missed that. I'm always so careful..."Here's my response which hasn't been loaded onto the article yet: Did I mention that it’s important to read the label carefully? While at first glance the fabrics used (such as cotton, acrylic, nylon, rayon, viscose, etc.) might fit the bill, if you keep reading you might find a little wool, cashmere or mohair (which comes from goats who also suffer terribly from exposure and are commonly sent to slaughter once they outlive their usefulness) on the list. My apologies for missing the mohair listed in one of the examples above and thank you to the kind soul who pointed it out graciously to me."



Subscribe to our Newsletter




Follow us on


Do Not Show This Again

×

Submit to OneGreenPlanet


Terms & Conditions ×