With Winter around the corner the topic of what to wear to stay warm is pretty prominent once again. I see many posts on social media talking against wearing wool – and many promoting wool. So I thought it is time to discuss the topic and answer the question: am I wearing wool as a vegan?
For today’s post I have been choosing an outfit wearing a cardigan made from recycled wool! What’s the whole topic about recycling wool? Is wool a sustainable material at all? Is it possible to make wool in a non-violent way? Why are some people so much against wool? These are the questions I would like to discuss in today’s post.
My cardigan is from the Munich-based label Me and May by the way … but more about that below!
Before starting off into the discussion, I guess I first have to explain why many vegans do not wear wool and why there is this whole debate about wool:
Actually, around half of the world’s Merino wool comes from Australia. There sheep are specifically bred to have wrinkled skin in order to increase the wool production. This wrinkled skin is prone to flystrike due to the accumulation of excess moisture and urine in the wrinkled. Flystrike is when flies lay eggs in the folds of the skin and the hatched maggots eat the sheep alive. So what are the conventional farmers doing? Cutting off huge pieces of skin from the area around the tail and back of the legs, producing smoother, scarred skin that doesn’t harbor fly eggs. This practice is usually performed without anesthesia and causes a great deal of distress to the animal, and in many cases the bloody, untreated wounds often get flystrike before they have healed – overall this isn’t much different to what you will find in most animal factories where pigs or cows are held for food production and are turtured on a day to day basis. And this is only one of the many horrible things happening to sheeps – often they are also sheared too early in the year (to make sure the quality of the wool is best) which leaves them exposed to cold weather (approx. 1 million die every year because of exposure). The shearers are paid by volume, which forces them to speed – and this results in rough handling and injury during the process. You want more? Using a knife to cut out testicles or a rubber ring to cut off the blood supply, a knife to cut off the tail, and a scraper blade or dehorning shears to remove the horn bud without any painkillers doesn’t sound very nice, does it? All of this is a daily business in the wool industry.
And this is only sheep… I will not even start off with Angora rabbits (google it if you want to see how cruel that is going on!)
So there ARE many very good reasons NOT to wear conventional wool!
So do I wear wool? Yes I do! But do I wear any wool? No! I am not wearing “any” clothes at all – with every piece that enters my closet I am checking: who made it? Under which circumstances? Out of what? Dyed with what? And this applies to anything made from cotton or bamboo – and anything made from wool!
I wear three different types of clothes made from wool:
– second hand pieces
– pieces made from recycled wool
– pieces made from wool from companies that are transparent in how the sheep are held, that are organic certified, and fair trade of cource.
I do not see anything harmful in wearing second hand pieces made from wool. Overall consuming what is already there aka buying second hand is always the best option: you save ressources, nothing new needs to be produced, and you still get what you need. However, I can understand why e.g. vegans do not like to wear leahter, because it feels like wearing a dead animal. With wool I personally find it a little different, as it is not a dead animal that you are wearing, but only the hair.
I own a few second hand pieces made from wool and I like and enjoy them a lot. In my latest second hand outfit, I’ve been wearing a second hand sweater made from 100% wool.
The next point then is to use recycled wool!
Using recycled wool means, like buying second hand, that no new wool needs to be produced, hence taken away from the sheep. So no harm is done to anyone.
The cardigant that I am wearing here is made from recycled wool and Me and May is actually one of those labels trying to make recycled wool big – something I find absolutely wonderful! Using recycled fibers (also cotton and polyester) is getting more and more common overall in the fair fashion industry (and beyond) and I am so happy about this trend! With big companies popping up that are selling the recycled yarn, it gets easier and easier to produce an entire collection out of recycled pieces. Yet, this is mainly possible for smaller labels and only to a limited amount to the big ones … but we are getting there!
You can find more information on the reycled materials used by Me and May on their blog!
And you can find the exact same cardigan here 🙂
Finally, you can actually find companies out there that are taking care of the sheep that are shorn!
Companies such as Armed Angels, Hess Natur, and other “big” players on the fair fashion market are very transparent about where there get their wool from, how the sheep are treated, and why wool is a great choice compared to synthetic fibers. Armed Angels actually has some pretty good short clips on their website all about the conventional wool industry and their own! You can find them here.
So when I actually buy new pieces made from wool, I make sure I buy them from companies that do care about their animals, that are transparent in their communication, and where I simply know that the wool I am wearing didn’t cause any harm to any animal.
But why to wear wool overall? We could leave the whole discussion behind us and just go for other materials couldn’t we?
I do not believe so! Wool is most definetly the material that will do best in keeping us warm and cozy, it is also perfect for sports wear since it can easily take up humidity/sweat. Wool is very breathable and can be layered perfectly. You hardly ever have to wash wool – which makes it a very sustainble material. When it smells bad all you have to do is to hang it outside for a few minutes and the smell will disappear. When you have stains on wool, you can just brush it out with a wool brush (no water needed). Nothing of this applies to other materials and this is what makes wool so unique – and so wonderful!
So yes, I wear wool, I love wool – and I find it important to ALWAYS be critical about EVERY material out there!
This blog post contains names of/pictures of/weblinks to brands and hence, is perceived advertisement. I was not paid for the post and all opinion is my own.