On Wool: Sourcing and Responsible Practices
Here at Created by Elsie B, there are many things we love about running a small business. While getting to interact one-on-one with our customers is the fuel that drives us, we also value the opportunity that we have to take a hands-on approach to product sourcing and development. Taking care of the environment has always been an Elsie B value, and that made choosing wool as our primary product a bit of a no-brainer. There are dozens or reasons that working with wool is a responsible move, and this list is just a few of the many ways that wool is wonderful both for its versatility and its sustainability! We care about where our fiber comes from and how it's produced.
A Long History
Anybody with even a basic understanding of wool production should recognize that it is a unique agricultural product. Wool is produced as part of the natural seasonal cycles of sheep, and the same sheep comfortably and safely produce wool from year to year. What might be a surprise is that wool production has been evolving over centuries. In fact, history shows that there have been domestic sheep for at least 7,000 years! By 500 AD, wool production was important to the economies of many European countries, and specific breeds had been developed for specific qualities in their wool. Because of the economic impact, it became essential that farmers maintain a symbiotic relationship with their flocks, making sustainability a natural part of wool production.
Happy Sheep, Quality Wool
Though taking care of sheep flocks has always been essential, it has only been recently that there have been specific standards for animal welfare. Regulatory agencies such as the World Organisation of Animal Health now offer guidelines and definitions of animal welfare and provide a benchmark for producers and a list of best practices. While each country has its own laws governing their agricultural industries, all major wool producing countries regulate for health and safety. One of the primary suppliers for Created by Elsie B fibers, for example, is based in the United Kingdom and uses legislated standards to determine the health and welfare of all wool producing sheep. You can find detailed information in the International Wool Textile Organisation's Specifications for Wool Sheep Welfare. The best news is that wool farmers are highly motivated to comply as poor conditions result in a lower quality wool harvest.
There has been a lot of buzz over the last decades about the environmental impact of animal husbandry. (Cow farts, anyone?) While there are supportable arguments in both directions, it is safe to say that sheep come out ahead in the environmental race in many ways. First, it is unnecessary to harm sheep to produce wool. (Yay!) In addition, wool actually captures and holds carbon that would otherwise damage the environment and contribute to global warming. By weight, wool is approximately fifty percent carbon, providing more carbon protection than either viscose or cotton fibers. It is also a long-lasting fiber choice and highly recyclable and biodegradable!
We make concerted efforts at Created by Elsie B to maintain the highest standards for every product that we bring to our customers. One of the values that we pay close attention to is our environmental impact. We evaluate every factor including production, shipping and product sourcing. The good news is that our wool is a sustainable and responsibly sourced product, and we do our very best to bring you quality wool from the happiest and most loved sheep on the planet! While we can't all keep sheep, (wouldn't that be fun?) we can all use wool from sheep that were lovingly cared for.
Have you ever visited a wool producing sheep farm? Do you make purchasing decisions with an eye to reducing your carbon footprint? We'd love to hear about your thoughts on environmental sustainability!