Wool has two sides of the same coin; either it is a very responsible purchase or a purchase with a lot of dirt and suffering behind it. It mainly depends on where the wool comes from.
Wool is not always a good idea, as 80% of the wool for fashion and interior comes from Australia. Here the wool is obtained anything but natural and friendly. The sheepherds are very large here; hundreds to thousands of sheep. The price of wool is low, the farmer only earns with high yields at low costs. It is impossible for the farmer to give the sheep enough personal attention, with all the consequences that this entails for the sheep. Money wins here instead of the welfare of the sheep.
The female sheeps are artificially inseminated so that the farmers can determine when the lambs are born; in the wintertime. The lambs then start eating from the land in the spring, the time when the lands are most fertile. This allows the lambs to get fatter faster. As a result, the lambs are born in harsh winter conditions, with between 10 and 15 million lambs dying from starvation and neglect in the first 48 hours. For farmers, the millions of deaths are an acceptable consequence of lower feed costs and heavier spring lambs.
Through years of selective breeding, these well-bred sheep regularly have twins and triplets. Multiple births per pregnancy lead to many complications. Mother ewes exhaust themselves by giving birth to several lambs. Prolapse and death are common, resulting in many orphaned lambs, which in turn also die from neglect. The financial cost of locating and caring for these lambs is greater than the cost of simply letting them die.
There are now aid organizations in Australia that go in search of dying lambs in the large fills and take them with them to take care of them and give them a dignified existence.
Then there is the mulesing method that is applied to most sheep of Australia. In a article I wrote you can read here what this painful method is.
Shearers are paid per animal or weight of wool they are shearing, rather than per hour. Speed makes shavers money. There is a huge amount of undercover video’s and photos shearers in Australia knocking them to the ground, holding their heads down with their feet and hitting them. On this site of animal organization Peta you can see images and more information about the suffering of the sheep.
And once the wool is obtained, it is transported to low-wage countries such as China, India, Pakistan, etc. to be further processed for fashion and interior. After this, in some cases it is transported a few more times before it finally arrives in the Netherlands. For example, with a stopover in Italy to sew the wash label in it and so to say ‘made in Italy’. All these transport routes cause environmental and social problems.
The documentary “Slay” takes a look at the trade of animal skins and wool in fashion and interior. It shows the greenwashing tactics and the hard and dirty work that people do at the beginning of the chain. The documentary can be viewed here for free.
Wool would be a very good choice if we use wool from the Netherlands. It is a residual product, the sheep have a beautiful life with a lot of personal attention. Emy Demkes wrote an article about this you can read here.
And then when the wool is close by, wool is more than fantastic because wool has so many beautiful properties. This can be read in this article.
For the woolen wall hangings from Halona I only use Dutch wool, from people I know myself. No intermediate channel, they are shearers, herders or hobbyists from whom I buy. I go there myself, preferably while shearing so that I can see the sheep, help out and take the wool neatly with me.
Halona large wall hanging of wool wallart wool unique and handmade sustainable. Textileartist Babette Leertouwer.