“Wool is the most sustainable fibre on earth”. That is the key message the National Sheep Association (NSA) has for the National Trust in its search for a more sustainable garment for staff and members to replace its current reliance on synthetic materials.
NSA is building on its promotion of the benefits of wool as a natural fibre by encouraging the National Trust to use wool as its new fleece or alternative garment materials. It is further reemphasising the animal welfare reasons behind shearing following suggestions from ‘animal rights’ groups that shearing sheep is cruel.
NSA has written to the National Trust encouraging it to consider wool as a viable product for its fleeces, promoting wool as a renewable, natural and reliable British product. NSA Chief Executive Phil Stocker comments: “The vast majority of sheep in the UK are extensively grazed on grass that grows on little more than sunshine, rain and soil nutrients. In doing so grassland soils sequester carbon and help combat global warming. I would argue that wool is the most sustainable fibre on earth and that it is the ultimate in renewable technology. It seems ironic that we call that garment – the fleece – after a sheep fleece yet most ‘fleeces’ are manufactured from plastic materials and when washed contribute to polluting our oceans and environment. The truth is that British wool has largely become a by-product from sheep farming. Although there are specialist wool producers that buck the trend, most of the wool is shorn in the early summer to improve the welfare of the sheep and to prevent flies laying their eggs within the fleece and causing serious welfare problems. Wool grows back naturally and by the winter the sheep has a well-insulated and protective weather proof coat. It seems to me that the interests and philosophy of the National Trust align perfectly with the properties of British wool and I’d challenge the Trust to either choose wool or invest in wool based garment development that could contribute significantly to the sustainability agenda.”
This message follows NSA’s recent criticism of fashion companies such as ‘Boohoo’, who only last week stated they would be removing all items containing wool from sale, only to revoke this move just days later following condemnation from the sheep industry as well as a wide group of consumers. Mr Stocker adds: “Organisations should take more time to look closely at wool production and the sustainability credentials of the British sheep industry before making rash and uninformed decisions.”