Comparing Organic & Conventional Textiles
The textile industry is one of the most polluting in the world with thousands of tonnes of (sometimes toxic) chemicals used and disposed of by the textile industry each year. Residues from toxic chemicals used to grow non organic fibre and process textiles can sometimes be found still in the final products. These residues can be inhaled or absorbed through the skin and may cause allergies, skin rashes and respiratory problems.The manufacturing of organic textiles uses methods that ensure minimal damage. Organic final products don’t contain allergenic, carcinogenic or toxic chemical residues. Chemicals and processes are assessed for their effects on human health, wildlife and how quickly they biodegrade. Inputs are not allowed if it is suspected that the chemicals or processes used can cause cancer, birth defects or changes to reproductive organs. Similarly suspected or proven allergens are not allowed.
Benefits of Wool
Sheep are a natural resource in the UK, which has over 60 breeds; more than any other country and all offering different fleece properties.
Wool is naturally biodegradable, composting down in just a few years while releasing valuable nutrients to the soil.
Renewable: Shearing takes place every year not only to obtain the fibre but importantly, for the welfare of the sheep to keep it cooler and cleaner throughout the summer months.
Wool is the best all-season natural insulator on earth due to the crimp in the fibre which forces each strand to butt against each other, as opposed to lying side by side. This keeps the tiny air pockets intact, acting as small insulators. Therefore wool is commonly worn in desert regions where it is necessary to regulate both the cold of the nights and the heat of the days.
Wool is naturally flame resistant. Its main component, a protein called Keratin, coupled with the moisture collected in its fibres, makes it difficult to ignite. Although wool will burn under intense fire, it normally self extinguishes when the flame source is removed.
Wool is a very resilient textile fibre that is both durable and flexible. A wool fibre can be bent more than 20,000 times without breaking.
Wool can absorb up to 30% of its own weight in water before it is saturated (a hygroscopic insulator)– and can also release it, which makes it a breathable fibre.
Wool is resistant to static electricity because the moisture retained within the fabric conducts electricity which is why wool garments are much less likely to spark or cling to the body.
All of the yarn at Garthenor is fully traceable. We know exactly from which farm the batches of fleece to spin each yarn have originated. The production of raw materials for organic textiles delivers all of the environmental and animal welfare benefits of the organic farming system. Animal welfare is at the heart of organic systems. Organic sheep are reared, fed, sheltered and transported with consideration for their well being. Cruel practices are prohibited and animal stress is minimised. Organic farmers take a preventative approach to disease, so animals are not routinely treated with antibiotics, wormers or pesticides. Organic animals are reared on organic feed and grazed on organic land, and are free to pursue their natural behavior with plenty of space. When the Soil Association symbol is on a textile product, it means the production of the fibre on farm and the processing of this into yarn has met organic standards and has been checked at every stage of the processing supply chain for social and environmental responsibility.
Wool is naturally 100% hypoallergenic because it resists bacteria, mould, mildew and dust mites, all of which can trigger allergic reactions. The definition Hypoallergenic is non-allergy producing. (The definition of non-allergenic is “having no tendency to provoke an allergic reaction”. Therefore it cannot really be said that any product is really non-allergenic).
Wool is breathable, allowing it to absorb sweat and release it as vapour, keeping the wearer cool and dry and so prevent the clammy, cold feeling experienced when wearing some types of synthetic clothing.
Wool never melts in a fire so it can’t stick to the skin like many common synthetic textiles; even cotton can catch light at 225°C, whereas the temperature needs to reach 570-600°C before wool will ignite. Polyester will melt at 252-292°C and nylon at only 160-260°C
Betsan Corkhill, a physiotherapist specializing in neurological conditions and founder of Stitchlinks carried out a survey of over 3,500 knitters with Cardiff University and found the more frequently people knitted the calmer and happier they said they felt. “Theraputic knitting can help people address a wide range of issues to provide general wellbeing”