The first records of its use date back to 1600 BC in the Nordic countries of Europe. But is this wool we cherish ecological? What impact does it have on the environment?
It is estimated that around 67 kilos of wool are produced per second worldwide, equivalent to 2.1 million tons per year. This wool is produced by over 1 billion sheep worldwide, with the main producing countries being Australia, China, New Zealand, Iran, Argentina and the UK. Wool accounts for around 1.7% of total textile fiber production worldwide, and its most frequent uses are in clothing and insulation.Wool production in Canada
Sheep farming in Canada dates back to 1664, when the country's agriculture was still in its infancy.
At that time, sheep were indispensable animals for feeding and making clothing for settlers. At the beginning of the 20th century, the Canadian sheep population peaked at 3.6 million. However, the two world wars and the industrial revolution left their mark on textile history, with manufactured and synthetic fabrics causing a considerable drop in demand for wool.
Today, there are almost a million sheep in Canada, mainly for meat.
Like all textiles and consumer goods, wool has a definite impact on the environment. Wool's main environmental issues are directly linked to the various well-known problems associated with intensive livestock farming.
These include water consumption and the risk of water degradation, energy consumption and the disappearance of forests in favor of grasslands for animal feed. In addition, global livestock production is responsible for 14.5% of greenhouse gas emissions. It's worth noting that meat consumption is certainly more important than wool production...
Next, the impact must be seen in the light of the fact that farmed sheep are regularly treated with insecticides to prevent infections in the flock. Finally, there are even sheep genetically modified to produce wool more abundantly and offer greater resistance to disease.
Wool, a 100% natural fiber, is endowed with exceptional characteristics that make it suitable for a wide variety of weather conditions.
Its thermal properties enable it to trap body-warmed air in its fibers, making it the fiber of choice in cold, damp or rainy weather.
It also has excellent moisture transfer properties, accumulating a third of its weight in water vapor, keeping wearers dry. Wool fabrics don't retain odors and also require less maintenance than synthetic fibers and cotton, saving energy and water.
Despite the impacts mentioned, it's still preferable to opt for natural fibers such as wool! Far removed from petrochemical textiles, natural wool offers comfort and well-being without doing undue harm to our planet.
Of course, it's important to choose organic wools. By organic, we mean that wool production, or sheep breeding, is pesticide- and chemical-free in terms of animal treatment, feed and the land on which they are raised.
There are also recycled wools that come from existing garments and are meticulously recovered to make new garments.
Consider Merino wool, as this species produces the most wool from a single animal (8,000 km of wool yarn per year).