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Top 10 Reasons Not to Wear Wool

Top 10 Reasons Not to Wear Wool

Editor’s note: This post is a Care2 Favorite. It was originally published on June 5, 2013. Enjoy!

You probably wouldn’t have thought that the woolly jumper you’re wearing or those Ugg boots you love so much could be the cause of so much cruelty and suffering.

The truth is, there is a much darker side to the wool industry than you may have ever imagined, and no amount of fluff can hide the abhorrently cruel and bloody practices that millions of sheep have to endure every day.

Here are the top ten reasons why you should boycott wool and opt for a cruelty free alternative instead:

1. Sheep don’t need to be shorn. Through no fault of our own, we are mistakenly led to believe that ‘sheep need to be shorn.’ The reality is much more complicated. Sheep naturally produce only the amount of wool they need to protect themselves from extreme weather conditions. It is due to genetic engineering and the manipulation of the sheep’s wool production that we have left these defenseless animals dependent on human interference.

2. Mulesing. Half of the world’s Merino wool comes from Australia, where sheep are specifically bred to have wrinkled skin in order to increase wool production. This wrinkled skin is prone to flystrike due to the accumulation of excess moisture and urine. Flystrike is a painful condition in which flies lay eggs in the folds of the skin and the hatched maggots eat the sheep alive. The wool industry’s solution? Cutting off huge pieces of skin from the area around the tail and back of the legs, producing smoother, scarred skin that doesn’t harbor fly eggs. This barbaric practice is usually performed without anesthesia and causes a great deal of distress to the animal, and in many cases the bloody, untreated wounds often get flystrike before they have healed.

3. The wool industry is riddled with death and disease. To give you a better idea, ten million lambs die every year before they are more than a few days old in Australia alone. Why? Flocks usually consist of thousands, making it impossible to give proper care and attention to individual sheep. Rather than reduce the number of sheep in an effort to better maintain them, sheep are bred to bear more lambs to offset the deaths.

4. An estimated 1 million sheep die from exposure. Sheep have to be sheared in the spring before they naturally shed their winter coats. Shearing too late means a loss of wool, so subsequently they are sheared while it is still too cold, leaving them vulnerable and at risk of death from exposure due to premature shearing.

5. Sheep shearers are paid by the volume. The majority of sheep shearers are paid by the volume, as opposed to by the hour, encouraging fast work without regard for the welfare of the sheep. This results in rough handling and injury during the process.

6. Lambs have to endure castration, tail docking and dehorning without anesthesia. Using a knife to cut out their testicles or a rubber ring to cut off the blood supply, a knife to cut off the tail, and a scraper blade or dehorning shears to remove the horn bud without any painkillers doesn’t sound very humane, does it? All of these procedures are common practice in the wool industry, and cause fear, pain and distress.

7. Sheep are highly intelligent animals. They have incredible memories and can remember up to 50 individual faces (sheep and humans) for years! This is because they use a similar part of the brain and neural process as humans use to remember.

8. Sheep are gentle, loving and feeling individuals who are capable of a range of emotions. Extensive studies have been carried out proving that sheep have much richer emotional lives than we give them credit for.

9. Five million kangaroos are killed every year as a result of the wool industry. Excessive numbers of sheep have eaten the native flora upon which the kangaroo feeds, causing the yellow footed rock wallaby to become an endangered species. These native animals are now viewed as damaging pests and the Australian government permits the slaughter of an estimated 5 million kangaroos each year.

10. Every sheep shorn will eventually be sent to slaughter. When a sheep’s wool production declines, they are sold for slaughter. This terrifying and frightening ordeal requires the sheep to travel long distances in extremely cramped and crowded conditions. Many sheep die during the journey from exhaustion, dehydration, stress and injury, and lambs born during the trip are often trampled to death.

Sheep are not the only animals exploited for their wool. Goats, rabbits and alpacas are also commonly used to manufacture angora, cashmere and alpaca wool. You don’t have to contribute to this abusive industry. Check labels before you buy and use alternatives such as cotton, cotton flannel, soft acrylic, polyester fleece and synthetic shearling.

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Photo Credit: EssjayNZ

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1208 comments

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12:29PM PST on Nov 22, 2014

It would be greatly appreciated if the author would complete research prior to commenting on the wool indudtry...sheep live happily in many countries not just Australia, furthermore Merino sheep are a special breed with a history - read on.
For centuries the ancient Merino Breed has been renowned in Spain for its fine wool, the industry was so valuable that the penalty for exporting the sheep was death. After the Peninsular Campaign of the Napoleonic wars disrupted Spainish society in 1807 - 14, the wool industry declined and Merino spread throughout Europe, North America and Australia. The Merino was the first sheep breed brought to New Zealand in large numbers. The Australian sheep industry was based on Merino and from 1840 to early 1860 thousands were transported across the Tasman sea, they were not always good quality so New Zealand Breeders imported small numbers from Germany, France, Britain and the United States to improve the stock. By the early 1880s the New Zealand merino had become a distinct type. Pastoralists & Farmers soon discovered that merino were prone to footrot in warm moist conditions - orginating from a semo-arid land the breed was not resistant to the disease. Footrot infects the tissue inside the hoof - in severe cases the horny part can detach from the rest of the foot, infection can result in weight loss, reduced productivity and death. Settlers on farms in wet districts and with heavy soils fround they could not keep merino sheep. merino sheep

2:39PM PST on Nov 19, 2014

Here's a Bigger reason to wear wool, Organic cotton, silk etc.

dacron fabric | Upaya Naturals
upayanaturals.wordpress.com/tag/dacron-fabric/‎
I'm sure by now we have all heard of toxic smells, chemicals and pesticides that we should never ingest, but have you ever heard of Toxic Clothing? There used ...

What I find very odd are the purported proponents of anti-animal sourced fibres have not researched the dangers of chemicall, and petroleum based alternatives. When they demonize an organic product, encouraging the use of man made synthetics, encouraging the Clear Cutting of Forests for Bamboo and Rayon, further evicting forest dwelling animals.

Many Forest Companies spray their lands with a Type of Agent Orange De-foliant to kill other Un-desirable tree species. How many song birds, insects, moose, deer, racoons etc. do they poison? Plus the wild berries, contaminated waterways etc.?

People should carry on a pro-con debate in their heads before being Hi-jacked by unsound emotionally charged falsehoods. Eg.

What are the alternatives?
Do they make sense?
Are there Environmental costs?
How many Carbon Inputs are needed for alternatives being promoted?

2:15PM PST on Nov 19, 2014

Oop's;

How dangerous is Dacron off-gassing in a child's mattress? - Green ...
greenhomeguide.com/.../how-dangerous-is-dacron-off-gassing-in-a-chid-s- mattress‎
7 Nov 2011 ... Answered by Mary Cordaro: Dacron is a type of polyester, made for many ... Dacron may outgas VOCs, which are gasses from chemicals that usually ... the government required flammability test without any flame-retardants?

2:11PM PST on Nov 19, 2014

Another good reason to wear wool or other natural fabrics like silk or Organic cotton;

chempolymerproject - Orlon~Acrylic-B-KT
https://chempolymerproject.wikispaces.com/Orlon~Acrylic-B-KT‎
The name Orlon® has been trademarked by the DuPont company, ... to moths, oil and chemicals” [Direct Quote : FiberSource – Acrylic Fiber] It is also easy to dye and flexible. ... The above picture is of an Orlon fiber being degraded by Micrococcus luteus ... You need to enable Javascript in your browser to edit pages.

3:15PM PST on Nov 17, 2014

contd; Flame retardant found in breast milk - Health - Children's health ...
www.nbcnews.com/id/.../ns/.../flame-retardant-found-breast-milk/‎
High levels of a common flame retardant used in furniture, computers and cars have been found in the breast milk of a sample of women across the U.S., .

# 10. Every sheep shorn will eventually be sent to slaughter.

Yes where the meat, hide & countless by-products provide added value. In the wild compare the death from being torn apart without anaesthesia by a wolf, coyote, mountain lion etc. Lobby for better practices, but not an end to wool. Otherwise please support the Keystone XL Pipeline, Kinder Morgan, Northern Gateway, Line 9 Reversal, Sarnia to Montreal, to Portland Maine pipeline proposals.

We will need to ship all that oil off to countries to process into synthetic fabrics, and clothing. So enjoy your shopping at MalWart and GiveMe YourPennies.



2:56PM PST on Nov 17, 2014

@ Dianne D @ 11:04pm PST on Nov 14, 2014
I won't touch anything from an animal. I refuse to be the cause of an animal to suffer.

Your ideals and compassion are justified, but not solidly based. If you use a plant based alternative, eg. bamboo & rayon require the clear-cutting of forests evicting their woodland residents. The Neurotoxin Carbon Disulphide is also used in the Pulp Mill process poisoning workers and the environment on discharge into the air and water. The logging & Industrial mill complex needed are mind boggling compared to a ranch, farm, Carding & woolen Mill.

Imagine all this can be done at home. Shearing, washing, Carding, Dying, Spinning, Knitting or weaving. Minimal carbon inputs. Use Acrylic or Polyfleece and you need an Oil Well, pipeline, chemical plant etc. and your wearing all this next to your skin. Have a spark from a bon-fire land on your clothing and your headed to the Burn Unit if you survive.

So shearing a sheep CAREFULLY to relieve it of a heavy coat, preventing matting is compassionate. It is a organic renewable resource which can be composted if your into gardening. Wool is also naturally flame resistant which would be a lot healthier in our furniture covering and bed mattresses instead of the chemical which is found in the breast milk of mothers globally from wind-drift.

Flame retardant found in breast milk - Health - Children's health ...
www.nbcnews.com/id/.../ns/.../flame-retardant-found-breast-milk/‎
Hi

11:04PM PST on Nov 14, 2014

I won't touch anything from an animal. I refuse to be the cause of an animal to suffer.

6:01PM PST on Nov 13, 2014

contd; EASY CARE The protective waxy coating on wool fibres makes wool products resistant to staining and they also pick up less dust as wool is naturally anti-static. Recent innovations mean wool items are no longer hand-wash only. Many wool products can now be machine-washed and tumble dried.

ODOUR RESISTANT Wool is far more efficient than other textiles at absorbing sweat and releasing it into the air, before bacteria has a chance to develop and produce unpleasant body odour.

A SAFE SOLUTION Wool is naturally safe. It is not known to cause allergies and does not promote the growth of bacteria. It can even reduce floating dust in the atmosphere, as the fibre’s microscopic scales are able to trap and hold dust in the top layers until vacuumed away. Thanks to its high water and nitrogen content, wool is naturally FLAME-retardant, and has a far higher ignition threshold than many other fibres, will not melt and stick to the skin causing burns, and produces less noxious fumes that cause death in fire situations. Finally, wool also has a naturally high level of UV protection, which is much higher than most synthetics and cotton.

Please download here the IWTO guidelines for wool sheep welfare, a concise summation of good practice principles for ethical wool sheep production - See more at: http://www.campaignforwool.org/about-wool/#sthash.Q5gftEcg.dpuf

5:59PM PST on Nov 13, 2014

contd; BREATHABLE Wool fibres are crimped, and when tightly packed together, form millions of tiny pockets of air. This unique structure allows it to absorb and release moisture—either in the atmosphere or perspiration from the wearer—without compromising its thermal efficiency. Wool has a large capacity to absorb moisture vapour (up to 30 per cent of its own weight) next to the skin, making it extremely breathable.

RESILIENT & ELASTIC Wool fibres resist tearing and are able to be bent back on themselves over 20,000 times without breaking. Due to its crimped structure, wool is also naturally elastic, and so wool garments have the ability to stretch comfortably with the wearer, but are then able to return to their natural shape, making them resistant to wrinkling and sagging. Wool therefore maintains its appearance in the longer term, adding value to the product and its lifespan. Wool is also hydrophillic—it is highly absorbent, and retains liquids—and so dyes richly while remaining colourfast, without the use of chemicals.

MULTI-CLIMATIC/ TRANS-SEASONAL Thanks to its hygroscopic abilities, wool constantly reacts to changes in body temperature, maintaining its wearer’s thermophysical comfort in both cold and warm weather.

EASY CARE The protective waxy coating on wool fibres makes wool products resistant to staining and they also pick up less dust as wool is naturally anti-static. Recent innovations mean wool items are no longer hand-wash

5:56PM PST on Nov 13, 2014

http://www.campaignforwool.org/about-wool/ Live naturally and choose wool.
WHY WOOL? NATURAL Wool is a protein fibre formed in the skin of sheep, and is thus one hundred percent natural, not man-made. Since the Stone Age, it has been appreciated as one of the most effective forms of all-weather protection known to man, and science is yet to produce a fibre which matches its unique properties.

RENEWABLE As long as there is grass to graze on, every year sheep will produce a new fleece; making wool a renewable fibre source. Woolgrowers actively work to safeguard the environment and improve efficiency, endeavouring to make the wool industry sustainable for future generations.

BIODEGRADABLE At the end of its useful life, wool can be returned to the soil, where it decomposes, releasing valuable nutrients into the ground. When a natural wool fibre is disposed of in soil, it takes a very short time to break down, whereas most synthetics are extremely slow to degrade.

NATURAL INSULATOR Wool is a hygroscopic fibre. As the humidity of the surrounding air rises and falls, the fibre absorbs and releases water vapour. Heat is generated and retained during the absorption phase, which makes wool a natural insulator. Used in the home, wool insulation helps to reduce energy costs and prevents the loss of energy to the external environment, thus reducing carbon emissions.

BREATHABLE Wool fibres are crimped, and when tightly packed together, form millions of tiny pockets of air.

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