It’s Wool Week, and as a brand founded on the principle of making sustainability simple through your clothing choices, we couldn’t think of a better time to talk about the amazing qualities of Merino wool, why you need it in your wardrobe, and how to use it to fashionably stand behind your #savetheplanet hashtags on social media and actually mean it.
WHAT IS WOOL WEEK AND WHY IT MATTERS
As one of the originating brands of sustainable, organic, and natural fiber clothing for kids, we celebrate International Wool Week every year to call attention to the magical properties of this organic and natural fiber.
Wool is like no other fiber. Naturally antimicrobial, temperature-regulating, non-irritating to even sensitive skin, resilient, moisture-wicking, naturally fire retardant, and biodegradable - it’s an all-season natural fiber that looks good, feels great, and carbon neutral.
As a natural and organic fiber, wool has inherent characteristics that make it renewable and biodegradable. But the nuances in quality standards that have been used in the fashion industry, have tarnished this beautiful fiber.
One of those important nuances is the use of certified organic wool - the type Nui uses - as it is a different category of wool.
Organic wool is free of pesticides, formaldehyde, polyester, foams, dioxins and other additives used in conventional manufacturing practices. The sheep are grazed on pesticide free land and are never sprayed or dipped as is commonly practiced in conventional wool production systems. Organic sheep are bred for resistance to parasites and are fed on organically certified pasture to build healthy immune systems.
We use wool from the Merino sheep. If you’ve ever worn a scratchy wool garment, you will understand the difference that Merino wool makes. As the highest quality wool, Merino fibers are approximately one third the diameter of human hair - making it supersoft and smooth.
To demonstrate this further, human hair is generally between 50-100 microns. Merino wool is typically 22 microns, and Nui uses a grade that is 17.5 microns. The smaller the microns, the softer the garment.
Then why is some wool so scratchy you ask? It could be the type of wool, and also the quality. We just mentioned healthy and happy sheep, and it matters. Organic Merino wool comes from better farms that pay attention to the shearing process. Typically the more processed the wool is, the worse the quality, and the more toxic chemicals need to be added to make them machine washable and wearable.
Nui GOTS certified organic merino wool is NOT processed using chlorine. Instead, we use a GOTS approved PLASMA treatment, safe for the wearer AND the environment
OTHER MAGICAL BENEFITS OF MERINO WOOL
If the fibers alone don’t impress you, how about the ease and versatility of wearing it!
In one word - LAUNDRY. If the list of things you’d rather be doing instead isn’t reason enough to switch to Merino wool, then the shivers of causing more microplastics in the ocean by washing a synthetic load of laundry should.
Since organic merino wool is breathable, moisture-wicking and odor resistant, you can do LESS LAUNDRY! All that’s required is airing it out between wearings, and when it is time to wash it, NO MICROPLASTICS!
Plus, if you hate bulky layers and feeling like you gained 5 pounds just by trying to layer in the winter, Merino wool can come to the rescue, with thin base layers that still have the natural insulating qualities of wool.
THE GOOD NEWS AND BAD NEWS ABOUT THE CLIMATE
The fashion industry accounts for about 10% of global carbon emissions, and nearly 20% of wastewater. That’s bad news for fast fashion, but could be one of the hidden silver (or green) linings spurred by the pandemic in 2020.
In a year when so many things went awry, the one thing that did get better was the environment. According to research conducted by Global Footprint Network, an international research organization, coronavirus-induced lockdowns led to a 9.3% reduction in humanity’s ecological footprint compared with the same period last year.
Additionally, with apparel and product sales declining, major corporations were forced to relook at their business models and supply chains, and many have taken action to become more sustainable.
And while that is good news, we still have a climate change crisis at hand. At Nui, we are strong believers in being the change you see in the world. That means being intentional about what you buy, and knowing why it matters. After all, a “Conscious sweater” isn’t exactly earth friendly if it sits amongst a brand that is 99% fast fashion, over-producing collection after collection, and burning returns because it’s cheaper and more efficient than cleaning and reselling or recycling it.
It is up to each of us to take responsibility for our family’s health and futures - especially if you can make simple changes that start with your own closet.
CARBON NEUTRAL - NATURALLY
Buy what you love and need, reduce, reuse, recycle.
That’s our philosophy at Nui and it always has been. After all, we are a part of the fashion industry too. And that’s why when brands say they are “carbon neutral” it does matter, but it’s also saying that they are doing things that pollute the environment, so they have to put forth extra effort to “offset” it.
Pollution is pollution - and we too, work to minimize our footprint. But luckily, along with using biodegradable natural, organic fibers, compostable bags, and monitoring every step of the life cycle of the garments, we have a smaller footprint than most clothing brands - naturally.
Sheep are part of the natural carbon cycle, consuming the organic carbon stored in plants and converting it to wool. Fifty per cent of the weight of wool is pure organic carbon.
Wool sourced from regenerative farms, actually not only cancel carbon emissions, but are a necessary part of the carbon cycle, building it back into the soil, drawing more carbon out of the atmosphere and increasing soil biodiversity, making it more resistant to climate change impacts such as flooding or drought.
A few other important notes that make Merino wool carbon neutral:
- Wool fibers are more resilient and durable, so products made from it have long lifespans than other fabrics
- Less washing at lower temperatures has a lower impact on the environment
- It’s recyclable, reusable, and biodegradable
A WORD ABOUT ANIMALS
While animal activists are quick with their accusations of animal cruelty in the sourcing of wool, we strongly disagree and can disprove this statement. A key responsibility of organic sheep farms, is caring that their sheep are healthy and happy - which involve shearing their fleece.
Shearing is actually necessary for animal welfare, as fleece can overgrow and impact the animals negatively. Australian wool growers genuinely care for their animals and the environment, and are committed to doing what’s best for their animals and the land.Even our Kina lambskin slippers are sourced from a New Zealand tannery that uses only materials from natural casualties that do not survive the challenges of nature.
Mulesing is a cruel and inhumane practice that does take place in the wool industry, but is not one that we tolerate. Our standards demand that the wool we use are from suppliers certifying that the sheep have not been mulesed.
Hopefully these tips will help you at least take a look and add a piece of magical Merino wool to your wardrobe. In a year where “loungewear” is trending, we rather like calling it #LIFEWEAR - clothing you can wear for your everyday life, that regenerates new life when it is made, and that you will have for life, for as long as you want it.
Because when you’re investing in you and your family’s wardrobe, you’re investing in their long term health and the health of the planet. Be sure to look for brands like Nui Organics that share your values and care about the world we live in.
Putting people and the planet first. Our planet. We care.