Is wool vegan and sustainable? These are questions every ethical consumer asks. Here is how buying wool will impact you, the environment, animals and laborers.
Fabric, materials and textiles are things we consume often. If you’re like me, you do all the research you can to make sure you don’t hurt yourself, the planet, animals or others when shopping. As an ethical consumer myself, I am giving you all the info I’ve found on wool.
You are going to learn all about wool’s vegan and sustainability status. Additionally, the following info will include wool advantages and disadvantages for your home, whether wool is a natural fiber, biodegradable…or perhaps even destructive!
After learning if wool is vegan and sustainable you will be able to make the best choices you can the next time you shop.
This post is all about learning if wool is vegan and sustainable.
Is Wool Vegan And Sustainable?
Durability: pros wool is durable, fire-resistant, lasts a long time | cons wool shrinks, can pill
Versatility: pros wool is very warm, water-resistant, absorbent, hypoallergenic, thick, heavy, easy to dye | cons wool is difficult to bleach, requires special care, itchy
Accessibility: wool is typically affordable but may be expensive, depending on quality, commonly used, easy to find
- Somewhat durable
- Commonly used, easy to find
Fiber source: natural, wool is a natural fiber, sheered from sheep and certain other animals, including cashmere from goats, mohair from goats, qiviut from muskoxen, angora from rabbits, and other types of wool from camelids
Biodegradable: yes, wool is biodegradable if it is untreated with chemicals, it is 100% biodegradable in a span of 1-5 years based on the techniques adopted to convert it into fiber
Destruction: high, wool production is relatively destructive, toxic chemicals are commonly used to preserve wool and fur and when poorly managed or discharged pollute waterways and cause devastating pollution, wool that is not organic is dipped in toxic chemicals to ward off ticks/lice, toxins from animal excrement pollute air, water, soil, high CO2e carbon emitted, strain on natural resources such as land, food and water, contributes to deforestation, with the large number of animals unnaturally bred onto the planet in the name of human utilization, specifically ruminants (cows, sheep, goats, deer, camels, etc.), they emit high volumes of carbon emissions and contaminate air, water, soil, etc., sheep hooves can cause land degradation
Kills: none, wool production does not require any animals to be killed
Harms: woolen animals such as sheep, are required to produce wool, severe animal abuse, strips of skin, teats, tails, ears are often cut off or ripped during shearing, sheep shearer workers often punch, kick, hit and stomp on sheep, stand on their heads, necks and limbs for faster wool shearing
Indirectly kills or harms: lambs, mature sheep, wildlife and ecosystems, lambs may die before 8 weeks old from exposure or starvation, mature sheep die from disease, lack of shelter, neglect, wildlife considered to be “threats” to sheep leads to landowners killing kangaroos and coyotes, permitted by law, resulting in millions slaughtered every year by ranchers and the federal government
- Not Vegan
- Harmful to wildlife and ecosystems
Health and safety: varies, overall, agriculture continues to be one of the most dangerous industries, farmworkers may be subject to dehydration, heat stroke, unprotected exposure to harmful, toxic chemicals and pesticides, unsafe machinery and clean drinking water may not always accessible
Living conditions: varies, laborers are often exploited, they may face tough working conditions including long hours in the sun and heat performing physically exhausting tasks, labor laws and rights may or may not be in place, even if worker protection exists, employer violations may go unreported, refugees and migrant workers are especially vulnerable to abuse and mistreatment, fearing consequences of job loss or deportation
Wages: varies, generally farmworkers earn meager wages, there are many cases of underpaid agricultural workers, wage theft and no overtime payment or benefits
- May involve worker exploitation, laborer issues, human rights concerns
What is the material abbreviation for wool?
WO is the material abbreviation for wool.
wool is somewhat durable.
For every 5 garments produced, the equivalent of 3 end up in a landfill or incinerated each year!
One reason for such wastefulness society’s ever growing desire to acquire. Fast fashion (creating low-priced items at high volumes) is problematic for a number of reasons and promotes the attitude that clothing is nearly disposable.
But another component of such a quick turnaround on clothing is because it’s just not lasting long enough. Snags, stains, warping and shrinkage render items unusable and unacceptable for the donation pile. Avoid such problems by buying better quality, more durable, long lasting materials. Timeless wardrobe favorites that last for years and years are more sustainable and reduce the need for replacements.
Every second, the equivalent of one garbage truck full of textiles burns or goes to landfills…
Keep minimalism in mind and buy less, borrow and buy items second hand. Thrift shops offer many inexpensive, unique finds that have already proven to stand the test of time!
wool is unsustainable.
Materials from animals are natural fibers and biodegradable unless heavily treated with chemicals. However, they are not at all eco-friendly or sustainable due to the overwhelming strain on natural resources; the water needed, food needed and land usage that must happen for such abundant amounts of animals to live.
With the high number of animals unnaturally bred onto the planet in the name of human utilization, specifically ruminants (cows, sheep, goats, deer, camels, etc.), they emit high volumes of carbon emissions and contaminate air, soil and water with their waste (excrement). This is also toxic to ecosystems and wildlife.
Animal agriculture is not good for the environment, human health and of course, the animals themselves. Thus, animal derived, non-vegan materials are not only cruel and inhumane but environmentally unsustainable.
That’s not to say that all vegan materials are sustainable. There are many vegan yet unsustainable fabrics, materials and textiles. Most of us don’t realize that washing one synthetic garment releases about 2,000 plastic microfibers which then enter the ocean and food chain…or that 30% of rayon and viscose used in fashion comes from endangered and ancient forests. So because a fabric is vegan it does not necessarily mean that it is sustainable, eco-friendly and so on.
Natural fibers like cotton are actually really harmful IF they are not organic. How? Cotton seeds are often GMOs that require pesticides, which are extremely toxic! In fact, up to 16% of the world’s pesticides go to non-organic, GMO cotton farming every year. The chemicals degrade soil and pollute water as well as poison cotton pickers.
Wow! …So it’s time to start using sustainable fabrics, materials and textiles.
Read more about ‘What Makes Fabric Sustainable Or Unsustainable?’
wool is not vegan.
Cows, sheep, alpacas, goats, ducks and foxes are animals commonly subject to exploitation for their skins, hair or feathers. In fact, BILLIONS of them die every single year simply in the name of fashion.
Before buying a pair of shoes, a sweater, a purse, check the materials. Common and unfortunately popular animal-derived materials include leather, suede, fur, feathers, mohair and wool -which often come from places like India and China where there can be NO animal welfare laws or enforcement. If the item does come from a more developed area of the world, such as the United States or Europe, that animal was likely a victim of factory farming. In such overcrowded farms they are confined, diseased and must sometimes live their entire lives indoors, never seeing the light of day.
Material from animals may involve slaughtering like leather and fur production, for instance. But in regards to wool or feathers, animals struggle as they are held down and beaten by workers while sheared or as feathers are ripped from their skin. This leaves them bloody and wounded in pain.
Buying vegan clothing, accessories and household fabrics, materials and textiles ensures that no living being had to suffer or die needlessly. Vegan fashion is trending like never before! According to Grand View Research, “The global synthetic leather market size is expected to reach $40.0 billion dollars (USD) by the year 2027”!
Dressing and decorating vegan is easier than ever with this: Vegan Fabrics, Materials and Textiles List
wool is a product that may or may not have laborer issues.
Did you know that the single largest employer in the world is agriculture? Whether agriculture involves crops or animals, the labor behind each and every product made from cotton, leather, wool, etc. cannot go unrecognized.
Sadly, many labor concerns exist around the world in both developed and developing countries. We must be vigilant to ensure what we buy is not contributing to industries that are unfair to their valuable workers.
Some known problems include workplace health and safety, sweatshops and child labor, gender inequality, inadequate pay, wage theft and exploitation. Workers can even experience harassment, humiliation and violence. Unfair employers often fail to provide laborers with access to shade, drinking water, restrooms and breaks. Consequently, laborers can face nausea, dizziness, heat exhaustion, dehydration and heat stroke -the leading cause of farmworker death!
Such mistreatment is like modern day slavery. Workers are often afraid to report issues because they fear it will result in losing their jobs or deportation.
Fair trade organizations fight to ensure better social, environmental and economic standards.
We can improve people’s lives simply by being mindful to buy items that are certified fair trade.
This post was all about whether wool is vegan and sustainable.
PETA: The Wool Industry
Sew Guide: Fabric glossary
Textile School: Textile fabric types
PETA: Environmental Hazards of Wool
slow fashion: sustainable vs. unsustainable fabrics
The Spruce: Types of fabric A to Z: What are you wearing?
Grandview Research: Synthetic Leather Market Worth $40.9 Billion By 2027 | CAGR: 4.4%
Adriane MarieHi, I'm Adriane, creator of HEALabel! I organize info for you to comprehensively see how purchases impact health, environment, animals and laborers. Stay aware because you care! Subscribe below to get my weekly newsletter with tips, new info and other ethical consumer insight.
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