Did you know that wool is not only biodegradable but also reusable? It is no secret that the natural fibre in wool is amazing, with qualities that make it unique among all other natural fibres, but it is important to know why it is so popular (Schuman, 2016).
Source- Royal Winter Wool Fair (Accessed 30 June 2020)
To begin with, the history of wool has very inaccurate dates. No one knows precisely when wool began to be used. According to Northwest Yarn (2018), it was probably due to an accident carried out by an inhabitant of the Middle East 11,000 years ago. This happens because this man realized that animals are not only a source of food but that their fur can serve as a source of protection. Today, wool is a more valuable natural fibre for us due to its versatility and adaptability.
Sheep wool is one of the most popular natural fibres and represents one of the highest shares in the natural textile market. It has a long life, low maintenance, and is renewable and 100% biodegradable. Its natural components result in exceptional characteristics such as temperature management, body odour control, and flame resistance. There are different types of wool, among them are the llama, cashgora, merino, mohair, alpaca, cashmere and angora, although all wool is not the same (Kinney, 2014, pp. 4-43).
On the other hand, we define the sheep wool production chain as the interaction of the different economic agents that participate directly in the production, transformation and commercialization of wool. Wool collectors transform the fibre into input for spinning (artisanal or industrial). Fabrics and garments made from merino wool offer multiple benefits, but it is important to take into account the ethical considerations related to the use of this fibre (Tinoco, 2009, p. 76).
To prevent diseases such as fly strike, many farmers have started to apply Mulesing techniques, which are extremely painful for sheep. Therefore, there is a need for alternative solutions to combat this problem. The local woollers, together with the government, have implemented guidelines to promote a more circular and transparent process. Mule techniques such as animal welfare and land protection ensure a positive environment for the herd and the quality of its fleece (Phillip, 2009, p.113).
There are also good practice certifications such as Responsible Wool Standard, ZQ Merino Standard and Soil Association Organic Standards and traceability of supply chains to ensure transparency and adequate market value of the product and also to provide the robust chain of custody from farm to final product and create improvements in animal care and land management where needed (Textile Exchange, 2019, p.1).
Kinney, T. (2014). Wool: Master’s design thesis. The University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture.
Northwest Yarn (2018). Know Your Fiber: A (Very) Brief History of Wool [online] https://nwyarns.com/blogs/northwest-yarns/know-your-fiber-a-very-brief-history-of-wool [Accessed 16 May 2021].
Phillip, C (2009). A review of mulesing and other methods to control flystrike (cutaneous myiasis) in sheep.
Shuman (2016). 10 Cool Facts about Wool [online] Available at: https://enzeesfootsoother.com/blogs/news/10-cool-facts-about-wool [Accessed 16 May 2021]
Textile Exchange (2019). Quick Guide to the Responsible Wool Standard (RWS) [online] https://textileexchange.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/2019-RWS-Quick_Guide.pdf [Accessed 30 May 2021]
Tinoco, O. (2009). Cadena productiva de lana de oveja en el sector textil y de confecciones (vol 2) Revista de la Facultad de Ingeniería Industrial de la Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos.