Following World Ocean Day, which was celebrated on 8 June 2021, The International Wool Textile Organisation (IWTO) look at this year’s theme and share some interesting information on wool’s impact on our oceans.

World Ocean Day is a global initiative to celebrate and create awareness of our shared oceans, with their rich biodiversity, and vital importance to all life on the planet. Every June, the day’s organisers invite individuals and organisations to engage in this global celebration and extend it all year round. IWTO, together with our partners and members, is an enthusiastic supporter of this initiative. It is fully in alignment with our ethos of sustainable business. Choosing wool over other alternatives in the manufacture of clothing and furniture has a surprising impact on the environment, including the oceans.

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A Commitment to Protect 30% Of the Blue Planet

World Oceans Day follows a specific theme each year. In 2021, the theme is ‘One Ocean, One Climate, One Future – Together.’ The conservation focus is to put plans in place to protect at least 30% of the oceans by the year 2030 (30×30). Governments, corporate entities and individuals are all being called upon to make contributions in their own capacities towards this cause. You may well ask what wool has to do with this project.

Wool is an extremely sustainable and eco-friendly fabric, and it has several benefits for the environment as a whole. Wool is part of the planet’s natural carbon cycle, represented as biogenic carbon. Half of the weight of clean wool is pure biogenic carbon. This is in stark contrast to fossilised carbon, the primary driver of climate change. Having said that, it must be admitted that sheep farming does result in greenhouse emissions. IWTO supports responsible, sustainable farming methods that help to reduce these and increase the level of carbon stored in pastures and soils.

Another key point is that wool is completely biodegradable, meaning that, even if a lot of wool was to wind up in the oceans (not that this would happen, unlike some other substances), it will simply decompose. Whereas plastics and their source material will not decompose. Rather they will break down into smaller and smaller pieces – these are the source of microplastic pollution. How concerning is the problem? The statistics in this article do not make easy reading.

Nylon is slightly better, though still takes as long as 40 years to break down in aquatic systems. Wool fibres take only four to five months to decompose completely. Therefore, brands can support the 30×30 movement by reducing their use of materials such as nylon and using wool as much as possible.

How the World’s Wool Clothing Brands Are Contributing

Clothing brands that specialise in the production of garments using only 100% pure wool have a beneficial impact on the environment. One example is Sheep Inc. While acknowledging that the fashion industry is responsible for a significant amount of the pollutants currently devastating the planet, Sheep Inc., under the creative vision of its co-founders, Edzard van der Wyck and Michael Wessely, strives to avoid contributing to its industry’s negative impact by being carbon-negative. It achieves carbon-negativity by working with supply partners that naturally offset more than they produce. Sheep Inc. source wool exclusively from farms that adopt regenerative farming methods. Farms must carefully manage the integration of flora and fauna on their land, to ensure natural carbon-sequestration and mitigate the traditional impact of farming.

Learn More About Wool and All Its Uses and Benefits

The IWTO is the global authority for standards in the wool textile industry. Learn more about the fascinating material that is wool by browsing our fact sheet. Not only is wool a great material for an array of items, it is also sustainable.

Now Read: Why Sustainability it Everything and Why Wool Delivers