Why I refuse to wear wool

Little is known about the vulgar treatment of lambs - all just to keep us snug and trendy.

Share
Related Topics

As I write, I'm warding off the autumn chill with a warm cotton jumper, a
polyester fleece pullover, cotton corduroys and ultra-cozy soya-silk socks.

But not so much as a stitch of wool. Why not? Because I don't buy wool. For ethical reasons.

Most people look at you quizzically when you say you don't wear wool. "Oh, you're allergic, right?" No. "Hate the dry-cleaning?" Yes, but that's not the only reason. "It's too heavy? Smells funny? Takes too long to dry?" Yes, yes, and yes ‒ but it's far worse than that.

Most people envision a sheep farm as an idyllic place with rolling hills, sheep dogs and warm barns. While bucolic, blissful farms like that may still exist somewhere, most of the wool we buy does not come from them.

Chances are, no matter where you live, your wool comes from the Land Down Under. With 120 million sheep, Australia is the world's largest producer of Merino wool (the kind used for most clothing). Australians raise Merino sheep because their wrinkly skin produces more wool per animal. Trouble is, the wrinkles collect urine and moisture, which attracts flies, which lay eggs, which hatch into maggots, which…you get the picture.

So the colonists came up with an ingenious (or egregious) solution: they cut a dinner plate–sized chunk of skin off the lamb's rear end in order to create a massive scar that pulls the skin tighter, reducing wrinkles. Yes, it's just as gruesome as you're imagining, and the wounds often become infested with maggots before they heal.

Flocks of sheep usually consist of thousands of individuals, so it's impossible for any farmer to treat them with the care and respect they deserve. For instance, it is considered normal in the wool industry for at least four per cent of young lambs to die every spring, primarily because of poor nutrition.

Sheep are basically on their own. They get rounded up and tossed into the sheep dip every once in a while, but mostly, it's just them, the flies and the parasites. Lameness caused by untreated scald and foot rot, both painful bacterial infections, is often found in ten per cent of a flock or more.

When the shepherds do "tend" to them, lambs have their tails amputated without anaesthetics. Little male lambs are particularly blue because they are castrated without painkillers. Shearing isn't a walk in the park, either, since it is automated and done at lightning speed to accommodate such huge numbers of animals ‒ and protruding sheep parts accidentally get lopped off.

Once sheep become old or unproductive, they are shipped to slaughter, which usually involves herding them onto lorries and transporting them long distances. These journeys can take several weeks. Many sheep are trampled to death or die of disease or starvation when they are unable to reach the food trough.

So, wool is not "cool". The "price" of wool, which according to some fashionistas, is rocketing right now, has long been paid by the sheep who are mutilated for these unnecessary fabrics.

All compassionate people should ditch the knits and opt instead for some of the more technologically advanced and cruelty-free alternatives, such as rayon, cotton, hemp, bamboo, Ingeo (made from corn) and soya silk as well as acrylic, nylon and microfibre. Our bodies will stay plenty warm without wool, but our hearts may be the warmest of all.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketing Controller (Financial Services)

£70000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketi...

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Letter from the Deputy Editor: i’s Review of the Year

Andrew Webster
RIP Voicemail?  

Voicemail has got me out of some tight corners, so let's not abandon it

Simon Kelner
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all