It’s cold and let’s be honest, we all want to be head to toe in wool. It’s warm, it’s cosy and everyone looks much better in knitwear. But given everything going on in the world, we are all a bit more nervous about our environmental impact, and so we decided to have a look at all aspects of wool to decide if it is the sustainable fabric option.
A fabric’s sustainability is based on a few different things:
- Raw Material Extraction
- Production Process
- Chemicals Used
- End of Life
How Sustainable is Wool?
Image from Abraham Moon
So wool is a good start as it’s a natural raw material however it does have a few down sides when it is mass produced as over farming can lead to other sustainability issues.
Most of our wool fabric comes from Abraham Moon, a British Wool manufacturer who has been trading British Wool Fabrics since 1837. They have a commitment to sustainability from the very beginning of the process, starting with the sheep themselves.
The Five Animal Freedoms in Wool Supply
Five Animal Freedoms by Abraham Moon
All of Moon’s sheep suppliers are committed to the Five Animal Freedoms which means the sheep must be free from hunger, pain and fear. On top of that, Moon is committed to every strand of wool they sell to be fully traceable back to the farm the sheep came from. Then, when the wool is scoured (cleaned to you and me) this process must be as environmentally friendly as possible by not using bleach. Unfortunately, not all of Moon’s wool is British wool, but when it can be it is.
Not only does Moon work to reduce the bad traits of the wool as a raw material, its factory in Yorkshire also aims for zero waste, using any stray fibres in other forms of wool production such as carpet underlay.
The Sustainable Properties of Wool
Wool sustainability by Abraham Moon
Wool is sometimes called a miracle fibre as it is naturally fire retardant and water repellent without the need for nasty chemicals in production processes. It is also one of the most hard-wearing fabrics ensuring the longevity we always look for in assessing a fabric’s sustainability.
Is Wool Fire Retardant?
Wool has some interesting natural properties which can add to its sustainability as it means it doesn’t have to be treated with chemicals as much as other fabrics. To start with, wool is naturally fire retardant due to its high levels of nitrogen and water, which mean it is hard to ignite.
That means that for people like us, many types of wool are perfect for our soft furnishing needs, as we are not paying for a fabric to be treated to meet fire regulations or have limited options to choose from.
Is Wool a Good Insulator?
Wool also has high insulation properties, so when it is used for furnishing projects it can reduce loss of heat in the room saving both energy and money.
Is Wool a Durable Fabric?
Another factor in determining a fabric’s sustainability is its longevity and durability. Luckily, wool is one of the most hard-working fabrics available and still looks good after years of wear and use. Fun Fact:Wool fibre can be bent 20,000 times without breaking and still recover.
Does Wool Stain Easily?
And it gets better as wool has natural stain repellent properties too, meaning it needs less washing (incredibly good for the environment) and wool suiting especially is an excellent choice for outwear.
A key part of sustainability in fabric is the circularity, meaning what happens throughout its life and after we have finished with it, and wool is one of the few fabrics that even after the production process, it has a sustainable after life.
The Circularity of Wool in Brief
- Sheep Farming can support conservation and biodiversity
- A renewable fibre using natural resources
- Odour and Stain Resistant = less washing
- Durability and Longevity up to 30 years
- Established Resale and Recyclability Industry
- A natural fibre which composts and biodegrades
Firstly, due to its durability as a fabric, any wool product has a high resale value, so can be re-sold for a new life easily to someone else who wants to stay cosy. But also, even after it’s been worn and worn and worn it is highly biodegradable. Even better, when it does biodegrade, the nutrients from the wool actually benefit the soil it’s degrading in. Very much win, win.
Wool wins on sustainability
Anyway, back to the original question, “Is wool a sustainable fabric choice?”, and the simple answer is yes. Even better, it is one of the oldest fabrics available. It is renewable, and if the supplier follows organic farming practices and both animal welfare and traceability standards are adhered to, it is one of the most sustainable fabric choices you can make. Wool is also biodegradable and recyclable.
However, it comes with a few conditions, as it all depends on where the wool came from to beginning with; was the sheep farm sustainable? However, the way that wool biodegrades, and only needs very few chemicals during the production process means it is a highly sustainable fabric choice.
Types of Wool Fabric
Of course, not all wool fabric comes from the fleece of sheep and there are many types of wool fabric from other animals including alpaca from alpacas naturally, angora from rabbits, camel hair, and cashmere from goats.
Then there are different types of wool like worsted wool from Worstead and commonly used in wool suiting; woollen wool which is used in knitting; boiled wool where different wool yarns are knitted together and boiled to create a very tight dense wool which is warm and water repellent so ideal for outer garments.
The Wool Fabric at Fabrics Galore London
As boss Paul hails from Yorkshire, he is particularly proud of the wool collection at Fabrics Galore London. Almost all our wools come from Abraham Moon, a unique woollen mill in Guiseley, Yorkshire, which has been producing high quality wool fabric since 1837. We also stock different types of wool fabric including boiled wool fabric, double-sided wool fabric and wool blend fabrics to offer our customers a fabulous choice of sustainable wools, whether you are using wool for dressmaking, furnishing or crafting.