Cute sheep or not, factory farming is always impactful
According to one analysis of wool production in Australia, by far the world’s top exporter, the wool required to make one knit sweater is responsible for 27 times more greenhouse gases than a comparable Australian cotton sweater, and requires 247 times more land.
This is an interesting article in Vox on the outsized impacts of large-scale factory farming wool impacts. The article goes into further detail comparing wool to synthetics on impact (Both big, but different), and why plant-based alternatives like Tencel and Hemp and recycling have not taken off. It also discusses the increasing trend of wool blends.
Widespread cheap synthetics have enabled fast fashion, making it possible for brands to produce stupefying volumes of disposable fabrics. These are now very commonly combined with wool to create hybrid garments. According to the Center for Biodiversity and Collective Fashion Justice’s recent analysis of 13 top clothing brands, more than half of wool items were blended with synthetics, giving them in-demand properties like machine washability
Of course when you blend a wool and a synthetic, it is now landfill material. The issue with clothing (same as the issue with most scaled up factory production) is scale and economics. Fast fashion makes clothes that fall apart in 6 months and are impossible to fix. So whatever the raw material used, this trend ensures high production, quick profit, large impact and large waste. In addition, factory-scaled animal production is not really compatible with animal welfare.
Unless the system changes, which will require a massive re-examination and re-jigging of our financial systems and reward/responsibility mechanisms, we will always have this issue.
A version of this article was first published at Olive Ridley dot org.