Wool in Fashion: Is it Sustainable?

The word ‘sustainability’ has been thrown around a lot in recent years, and is treated more or less as a label for the key to following an environmentally friendly lifestyle. In the wake of the rise of the climate change movement, environmental sustainability has become an increasingly prominent topic of discussion, particularly in the fashion industry. 

What is sustainable fashion?

For a fashion brand to be considered ‘sustainable’, it must work continuously to be environmentally conscious at every stage. This includes design, production, manufacturing, distribution, and disposal. Be careful: some brands will simply slap a ‘sustainable’ label on their products, without really knowing what it means! In order to achieve true sustainability, there should be a focus on using renewable resources and energy in an efficient way, and maximizing the possibility of reuse by ensuring that these resources are used carefully to establish long-lasting durability. 

Fast Fashion: Quantity Over Quality

With an estimated 92 million tonnes worth of textile waste created per year, the fashion industry has been put under a microscope to pick apart its environmentally destructive methods, and to ensure that companies are being held accountable for their actions. ‘Fast fashion’ refers to the extremely quick turnaround that certain brands, such as H&M or ZARA, offer to their customers, providing new styles and garments frequently and at low prices. This makes clothes and accessories feel disposable and replaceable. Luckily, many smaller brands are beginning to focus on quality over quantity, with sustainability at the forefront of their brand’s mission.


One way to achieve this not-so-small feat is through use of renewable resources, and wool is one of the most widely used renewable resources within fashion. It sits at the top of the list for durability, resiliency, and longevity, and by selling products that are built to last, the carbon footprint left by the fashion industry might just shrink a couple of sizes.

What’s So Great About Wool?

1. Sustainable Extraction and Production

Photos by Unsplash - Daniel Sessler (@danielsessler) and Martin Bisof (@mbisof)

The fashion industry is one of the largest contributors to climate change not only due to textile waste, but more importantly as a result of their destructive extraction of synthetic materials. Wool is extracted naturally through the process of shearing, rather than the extraction of fossil fuels which is required for its synthetic counterparts, such as nylon and polyester. 


The production of wool is far less destructive than these synthetic materials, because the land and water required to raise sheep for shearing exist naturally and in abundance. Sheep are also able to live on non-arable lands, and on terrains that are not useful for other purposes. The production of wool does not usually have a negative impact on the environment, but some wool does go through a potentially harmful dyeing process. In order to ensure sustainability in the production stage, the highest quality wool is kept as pure and natural as possible. 

2. Superior Lifespan

Photos by Unsplash - Kelly Sikkema (@kellysikkema) and Judith Prins (@judithprins)
A large reason for the massive amounts of textile waste across the globe is the unnecessarily short lifespan of many garments and accessories. Fortunately, wool has a long, resilient lifespan. Here are several factors that extend and improve this lifespan:
  • Wool’s natural waxy coating protects it from most staining and soiling. 
  • Wool picks up less dust and dirt and is naturally anti-static. 
  • Wool has a natural crimped texture and has some water repellent properties. 
  • Wool is hygroscopic, meaning it reacts with temperatures to provide the required protection based on the temperature. 
  • Most importantly, wool does not shed microplastics, so washing wool will not release these dangerous pollutants! Microplastics are one of the leading causes of fashion-induced environmental destruction.

3. Ideal End-Of-Life

Finally, the most visible indicator of sustainable fashion comes at the end of a product’s life. Many synthetic materials will outlive any human being, and it is for this reason that they are very obviously not sustainable. On the other hand, renewable resources are sustainable because they can replenish and reproduce after usage. At the end of a long, versatile life, wool is biodegradable, and can be reproduced without harming the environment.

Theoretically, wool should not add to the rising number of textiles sitting in landfills. Wool breaks down much faster than other textiles, and its nutrients return to the soil to complete its natural cycle. However, it is important to note that the process of modern waste removal does not often provide the ideal environment for natural materials like wool to decompose efficiently, so this organic biodegradation is not always possible in some areas of the world. This is an issue much larger than the fashion industry, and as a consumer striving to follow a more sustainable lifestyle, it is always a good idea to research your local options for recycling or reusing your clothes and accessories!

 

Our Wool at Monte & Coe

At Monte & Coe, our travel essentials are created using all-natural, sustainable, Italian wool. Italian wool is closely monitored during its milling process, and is of superior quality, resulting in products that are resilient and luxurious at the same time. The fibres are so tightly wound that their strength will withstand the test of time. We aim to be as conscious as possible in terms of the effects our products have on the environment, so we use renewable materials with long-lasting durability. We love our planet and we love traveling, and most of all, we do it in style

Shop our sustainable wool travel essentials here.




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