The Prince of Wales launched a new initiative aimed at increasing demand for British and Commonwealth wool in January 2010. ‘The Wool Project’ will see diverse groups from across the wool sector including textile designers, the carpet and fashion industries work together to improve public awareness of the benefits of this sustainable product.
The Prince of Wales, has long been concerned about the low prices farmers have been receiving for their fleeces. In February 2009 His Royal Highness convened a meeting at Clarence House of representatives of wool producers, the fashion, retail and carpet industries and textile designers to see how the problem could be addressed.
Wool grower organizations from the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and others, including Marks and Spencer, will launch a consumer facing campaign in the autumn (fall) that will communicate the advantages of wool to the general public.
‘The Wool Project’ Chairman and Director, John Thorley said, “Wool is a sustainable, natural product – the production of which involves far lower carbon emissions than man-made fibres. It is perfect for domestic use as a natural insulator and is naturally fire retardant. We are delighted that The Prince of Wales has helped bring us all together to communicate its many benefits to the public, and help improve the market for sheep farmers across the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth.”
The Wool Project
The aim of the global program is to promote the use of wool as a sustainable resource so that consumers purchase from a position of knowledge. The project will also include a major push later in the year entitled Wool Week, which will see the design world taken by storm
Several of the world’s major wool groups have joined together to back The Wool Project, including those from the UK, Australia and New Zealand as well as the International Wool Textile Organisation.
Announcing the project to more than 130 key players in the wool supply chain including merchants, scourers, spinners, weavers, manufacturers and major retailers and designers, HRH the Prince of Wales discussed the issues faced by sheep farmers that make little or no money from wool when their shearing costs are often three times the value of the point of sale.HRH Wool Project
The Many Benefits of Wool
Natures Miracle Fibre
The benefits are wool are incredible, For last 7 decades man has been trying to copy these benefits with synthetic fibres made from oil. But has been unable to come anywhere near the remarkable features that nature built into wool.
Wool is completely renewable, biodegradable, uses little energy to produce, keeps you warm in winter and cool in summer, and is naturally fire resistant.
Wool is the ultimate renewable fibre – it grows continuously on a sheep’s back all year round. During summer, the wool from sheep is removed (sheared) by skilled craftsmen and the sheep return to their pasture. At the end of its useful life, the pile from wool carpet 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.
Wool requires very small amounts of energy to produce, about 1/8th of that required for nylon. Wool carpet reduces heating energy requirements by preventing heat loss. In summer, a wool carpet prevents heat rising through the floor and keeps your room cool and comfortable.
Wool can be recycled at the end of its useful life in a number of interesting ways. Wool carpets are naturally durable so they can be re-formed and re-used as decorative area rugs. Wool pile from old carpets, along with waste wool from the manufacturing process, can be used in environmentally-friendly insulation products. Discarded wool carpet can be cut into strips and used to protect newly planted trees and to prevent erosion and soil loss. The slow breakdown of wool provides rich nutrients and mulch to nourish the saplings and promote faster growth.
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 that is ideally suited for carpet, interior fabrics and clothing. The main source of energy is sunlight to make grass grow. Wool retains its good looks longer, reducing the need for wasteful, premature replacement. Over its lifetime, wool will save energy on heating and cooling. Chemical emissions from carpet cleaning are up to 5 times lower than hard floors.
Wool is safe and beneficial for human beings. Wool is non-allergenic and its natural properties provide inherent fire resistance, air purification and moisture control, creating an exceptionally safe and healthy indoor environment.
Wool is naturally resistant to burning. Wool carpets are used in aircraft and cruise ships because wool’s high protein and moisture content make it difficult to set alight. If ignited, wool only burns weakly, limiting the spread of flame. Compared to synthetics, wool’s inherently low smoke emissions and low flame spread mean that it does not create such dangerous levels of carbon monoxide and other toxic fumes. Wool carpet self-extinguishes due to the upper pile forming a thick insulating char layer which inhibits fire. Wool does not melt which prevents the underlay contributing additional smoke, heat and toxic gases.
The Formary heartily supports the Wool Project and will do our part to assist in promoting this amazing fibre.
After all, coming from New Zealand, where would we be without wool?