How “Sustainable” Wool is Wiping Out Wildlife and Pumping Out Emissions
Author: Emma Hakansson , Spencer Roberts
The sheep are shocked and gashed during shearing. The wool is rendered into textile by a long, pollution-intensive process of scouring, carding, grading and weaving. The garments carry slogans like “sustainable” and “climate-beneficial.” But scientists tell a different story. Critical discussions around emissions reduction in fashion often fail to consider the opportunities that come with combating methane. These enteric emissions, generated by the digestive systems of sheep, trap heat approximately 86 times as effectively as carbon dioxide over a twenty year time frame. As such, leading climatologists at the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change have specifically emphasized the imperative to rapidly cut methane pollution. From the ranch to the runway, the wool industry’s glamorous greenwashing belies supply chains of pollution, exploitation and extirpation. While fossil-fuel derived fabrics are facing a rightful reckoning, animal-derived materials like wool are getting away with murder. In an age of closed-loop cellulose, hemp and recycled yarns, it’s time that major fashion labels evolve beyond the practice of industrially shearing clothing material off of sheep.