All around this wide country the winter it has now begun, well at least in the northern hemisphere. If you, like myself, come from a cold climate country, 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. I actually remember my mother lecturing my sister and I how imperative investing in a good quality wool as opposed to acrylic clothing is! I also remember that I would always try to rebel against it... Not for ethical reasons, as I wasn’t educated enough at the time. I simply didn’t like the material. It itches and it’s very heavy! Now I also understand how wool is sourced and this is the reason I refuse to wear it.
Sadly, it couldn’t be more far from the truth! Although we don’t obtain wool by killing sheep as such, they ultimately die for us to wear wool! That's because once sheep stop producing wool, which happens after a few shearing rounds, they are sent off to slaughter houses. Some also die as a result of poor farming conditions. And it goes without saying that shearing is extremely stressful to the sheep and can result in serious injuries.
Also, let’s not forget about the Ugg boots that require both sheep wool and sheep skin, where wool is worn on the inside, skin as an outer layer. In this case, sheep is actually killed for the product.
Another horrific instance where wool production and the sheep are seen as “products” is breeding and domestication of Merino wool sheep. The breed have extra folds in their skin so there is more wool created per sheep. If Merino wool sheep are not sheared frequently enough, 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, and as a result some die from exposure.
What do you wear instead of wool?
There are so many other beautiful fabrics that can keep us warm without harming a single animal. This might require more time and browsing around but it’s just so worth it! And please make sure to read the labels!
Instead of wool, you can wear some of the many natural vegan fabrics that don’t involve animal cruelty. There are high-performing vegan fabrics that are the perfect combination of soft and sustainable.
For example, organic cotton. Organic cotton is grown without harmful chemicals and doesn’t destroy ecosystems. In fact, it’s known to improve soil quality and often uses less water. Like other vegan fabrics, organic cotton is easier to clean than wool, faster drying, and softer to the touch.
Ivana and Carla, founders of a beautiful brand petitTembo say: “at petitTembo when it comes to eco-friendly sustainable and animal-friendly fabric, organic cotton makes all the difference. It promotes biodiversity from rich soil to safe habitats. It is 70% rain-fed which reduces pressure on water sources. And it’s also the best choice for us and our kids. It’s grown without any fertilizer or harsh chemicals. It’s safer, softer, more durable and more breathable than wool. Some of our favourite organic cotton fabrics for the colder seasons are organic cotton fleece and organic cotton french terry. They are not only extremely durable but also superiorly soft. Beautiful fabrics that are as kind to the animals as they are to kids’ skin.”
PetitTembo is organic, ethical and sustainable children's clothing for the little changemakers. Giving back is at the core of their brand’s ethos and 20% of petitTembo’s net profits is equally divided and donated to Sheldrick Wildlife Trust and Kisumu Hope Restoration Centre. Please make sure to check them out and support!
Layer! You can find plenty of lightweight warm layer pieces that don’t add bulk but keep you toasty.
Add a scarf. Scarves are always a plus for an outfit, and keeping your neck warm is one of the keys to staying warm all over. This one comes in rust or blue and is made of a soft acrylic.
One of the trickiest concerns for any conscious fashionista in a cold climate is finding a winter coat that does not compromise on their values nor the style! There are, fortunately, more and more brands leading the way in this area both in terms of vegan options. For example, the UK based faux fur coat company, The Furry Tales. Here’s what she says about their beautiful coats:
“It is hard to be stylish and ethical at the same time. Our mission is to change the way we look at fashion and show that you can dress lush without being cruel to animals. This is where we contribute to change the world. Our coat fabrics are not just ethical – they are designed for weather protection, insulation, and comfort, with super pretty textures and flirty drapes that are not only ultra- chic but very much affordable! My absolute fave is the leopard print one- this piece can effortlessly leverage any look!
The above is a very rough overview of the problem and general misconception around the subject of how wool is produced. Please look for alternatives and support the companies, like petitTembo and The Furry Tales, that are committed to cruelty-free, eco-friendly fashion. We don’t have to sacrifice animals to keep warm and look fashionable!