7 October 2019

Wool Week 2019: Public urged to cut down on plastic and ‘embrace wool’

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By Alex Black - Farmers Guardian

The Farmers Union of Wales has encouraged people looking to live more sustainably to choose wool as the industry celebrates Wool Week 2019.


Those wanting to help the environment and lead a more sustainable, plastic-free life, are being encouraged to embrace wool by the Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW).

As the industry celebrates the natural performance qualities and ecological benefits of wool this Wool Week (October 7-20 2019), FUW vice-president Ian Rickman urged those wanting to help the environment and lead a more sustainable, plastic-free life to embrace wool.

And it is not just in clothing where embracing wool can make a difference, with innovative companies making everything from sustainable packaging to bedding.

 
Renewable

“Every year our sheep will produce a new fleece and they will do so as long as there is grass for them to graze on, making wool an excellent renewable fibre source,” Mr Rickman said.

“That is especially true if compared to synthetic fibres, which require oil and refineries and are a non-renewable resource for man-made fibre production.”

He added sheep farmers worked to safeguard the environment and improve efficiency in livestock production.

Mr Rickman also said consumers would have to look at longer-term choices with a pull on natural resources and reductions required in fossil fuel use.

“We feed the nation with sustainable and well cared for lamb and take our responsibility to look after the environment seriously.

“We share concerns about plastic and microfiber pollution in our oceans and soil, as well as pollution from fossil fuels.

“Fabrics such as polyester, nylon, acrylic, and other synthetic fibres are all forms of plastic and makeup about 60 percent of the material that makes up our clothes worldwide.

 
Microfibres

“And those tiny plastic particles which are shed from our clothes will eventually end up in our oceans and take a very long time to degrade in the soil. We, therefore, need to make choices on an individual level in terms of what we consume - be it food or clothes.”

The solution, according to FUW, was the wool produced by the sheep in Wales.

“There are over 10 million sheep in Wales, which means we have access to a great resource right here on our doorstep.

“Wool at the end of its useful life can be returned to the soil. Where it decomposes, it releases valuable nutrients into the ground and it only takes a very short time to break down. It does not pollute the oceans and has many other benefits.

“Therefore, if you want to do your bit for the environment, buy local and in-season food and consider wool as a viable alternative to man-made fibres.”


 
Farmers

Outside of clothing, other innovative uses for wool included sustainable packaging which farmers selling their own produce could utilise.

Pig farmers and pork, sausage and bacon producers at the Primrose Herd in Cornwall used wool liners from Puffin Packaging to send out its pork boxes to customers around the UK.

Sally Lugg said: “The packaging we use for our products is all recyclable so wanted to avoid the use of poly boxes.

“The wool packaging ticks all the boxes- light weight, recyclable, biodegradable, keeps the product chilled for at least 24 hours, supports other farmers and is cost effective.”

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