Wool is the ultimate renewable fibre – it grows continuously on a sheep’s back all year round. During summer, the wool from New Zealand sheep is removed (sheared) by skilled craftsmen and the sheep return to their pasture. At the end of its useful life, most wool made products can be returned to the ground, where the nutrients released as it decomposes promote further grass growth, and the natural production cycle starts all over again.
Under the right conditions, wool is totally biodegradable. Wool is made up of natural amino acid chains, which are often referred to as “the building blocks of life”. As wool bio-degrades, rich, essential plant nutrients are released such as potassium, nitrogen and phosphorous. Even if placed in a landfill, it will decompose leaving no harmful residues.
Most wool products can be recycled at the end of their useful life in a number of interesting ways. Wool is durable so most items can be re-formed and re-used for many other items.
Wool requires very small amounts of energy to produce.
New Zealand sheep farming is recognised for its world-leading standards of farming integrity. Sheep are grazed on a variety of different pasture types, including hillsides which are unsuitable for other farming systems, and which allow for effective soil management and natural free-range grazing. Efficient land management and flock rotation ensure that the land will continue to enhance high quality wool production for generations to come.
Life cycle analysis
Unlike synthetics, the carbon footprint of wool is barely discernible. Sheep convert nature’s raw materials into a unique fibre. The main source of energy is sunlight to make grass grow. New Zealand is a signatory to the Kyoto Protocol on global warming and has embarked on initiatives to reduce greenhouse gases. Wool will save energy on heating and cooling.
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