Why Organic Wool?
The textile industry is among the top ten most polluting industries in the world and the conventional woollen industry contributes to this from the production of the fleece “in the field” to the end products. Most conventional woollen products are no longer “natural” having been treated by one or some of the following processes: alkaline baths to remove dirt and grease, acid baths to remove vegetable matter, anti-shrink for machine washing, bleaching, dying, moth proofing and possibly flame proofing; as well as often being blended with man made fibres (made from petro-chemicals). There is growing evidence to show that some of the chemicals used in the treatment of wool are harmful to health and the environment and many people who think they are “allergic” to wool may, in fact, be reacting to the chemicals in their woollen garment.
Many people understand the benefits of eating organic food and are now looking into other areas where there are benefits, such as textiles.
What is Organic Farming?
Organic farming is a way of producing safe food and textiles from healthy plants and animals, in a healthy, natural environment. It strives to minimise pollution in any form by avoiding the use of artificial chemicals wherever possible – artificial herbicides and fungicides are prohibited as are organo –phosphate dips and Genetically Modified Organisms. Healthy fertile soil is built up by resting the fields after harvesting and growing clover to restore the health of the soil. The soil is enriched by the spreading of farm manure and compost and trees and hedges are planted to provide homes for the birds, bats and beetles which will, in turn, feed on insect pests which would otherwise damage crops. Because no chemicals are used there are no poisons to pollute the water, soil and food chain.
All of Cornish Organic Wool’s suppliers are registered with either The Soil Association or Organic Farmers & Growers (OF&G).
How does this relate to Animal Welfare?
Farm animals have access to fields, fresh air and fresh water and are fed a healthy, natural diet with no routine drugs or food additives.
Are there any specific guidelines for sheep?
Yes. Flocks must be of a manageable size. Sheep must be free to roam and rotational grazing encouraged. Daily visual checks of the flock to inspect health and safety are mandatory. Farmers may worm sheep only when necessary and non-toxic wormers used, accompanied by free-choice minerals to enhance the immune system.
What about “fly strike”?
This is a common headache amongst sheep farmers. The fly lays its eggs in warm damp fleeces and in a matter of days these will hatch into hundreds of maggots, which then commence their life by feeding off of the sheep. Unless treated promptly, they will burrow under the skin and begin to literally eat the sheep alive. The sheep will either die of shock or be left with bad wounds that can induce massive septicaemia. Prevention is the best solution and all of Cornish Organic Wool’s farmers check their sheep daily. If fly strike is found the animal is treated with an approved “spot on” treatment (much like “Frontline” for cats and dogs). The sheep is then marked and, if the sheep are treated for fly strike less than 3 months before shearing, that fleece is removed during shearing and is not used by Cornish Organic Wool. If the whole flock is treated within this time then none of the flock's fleeces can be passed as 'organic fleece'.
What happens to the wool after shearing?
During shearing the wool is sorted and any plastic, baling twine, hay, timothy heads, burrs, manure, etc, etc is removed. The wool is then packed into sacks (sheets) and is weighed and labelled with the farm names, its accreditation number, date of shearing and breed. The farmer signs a declaration which states that no chemicals have been put on the sheep during the previous three months.
What happens to the Raw Fleece?
The wool is sorted, scoured (washed), carded, spun and “finished”. All of these processes are done under strict Soil Association guidelines. No acids, shrink-proofing, bleaches or moth-proofing is allowed. Only vegetable-based soaps are to be used (ie petroleum-free).
How does Cornish Organic Wool keep track of its wool?
Cornish Organic Wool is unique in that every skein of wool is traced back to the farm it came from and its shearing date. From the farm (where every sheet is labelled), every process at the factory is tracked and labelled. Once in the skein, every skein is labelled with the name of the farm it originated from and the date of shearing.
What is the significance of Soil Association accreditation?
The Soil Association symbol is a guarantee to the consumer that food and textiles are produced to the highest standards of animal welfare and environmental protection. These principles have been extended to cover the processing and production of textiles and the Soil Association has recently developed Standards for Organic Textile Production that are ethically sound and realistically achievable. From the farmer to Cornish Organic Wool, every step in chain must comply and be certified by the Association. All members are inspected annually by the Association and we, at Cornish Organic Wool, know that, at every stage, the Soil Association’s high standards are being complied with.
What does "Low Eco Footprint" mean?
Most manufactured yarns and garments found in the UK today are produced in Turkey, the Far East or China. This means that they have travelled enormous distances before reaching the consumer in the shop. The impact this is having on our environment is indefinable but it is, undoubtedly, unsustainable.
All of the processes involved in the production of Cornish Organic Wool take place within the UK. This means that the wool, from fleece to skein, travels a relatively small distance and, therefore, has a low impact on the environment. We believe that Cornish Organic Wool is the most environmentally friendly yarn produced in large quantities in the country, if not in the world.