When we talk about sustainable materials — we’re talking about materials that have a low impact on the environment and society. But it’s also about promoting responsible consumption and production.
Using the Earth’s resources and environmental pollution are big problems for the fashion industry. Using sustainable materials is an important way to reduce these problems. And Recycled wool is one material that offers strong sustainability benefits.
Recycled wool is made from waste — either post-consumer or post-industrial waste. Then it can be given a new life by being spun into new fabrics. Meaning less waste to landfills and less of a need to use virgin wool. Recycled wool has many sustainability benefits. Understanding these benefits can help you to make more informed choices about your clothes.
This article covers everything about recycled wool. The recycling process, the benefits, common misconceptions, and how to look after recycled wool clothes.
How do you recycle wool?
There are a few steps to transform waste wool into new clothing. The wool is collected from different sources. Like old clothing, scraps, and manufacturing waste. Then the wool is sorted by fibre length, colour, and texture.
Next, the sorted wool is cleaned to remove dirt, oil, and dyes. Then the wool fibres can be shredded and re-spun into new yarns. Ready to be woven into new garments. The recycling process not only reduces waste but also saves valuable resources.
Advantages of recycled wool clothes
Using recycled wool over virgin wool means lower carbon emissions and energy consumption. And producing recycled wool clothes uses much less water in the manufacturing process. Sheep rearing and processing virgin wool can be very water intensive.
Social and ethical benefits
Choosing recycled wool clothes encourages a circular economy. Instead of sending garments to landfill — they can be repurposed. Which nudges the industry to be less reliant on virgin materials. Encouraging a more sustainable approach to fashion.
Recycled wool also supports sustainable farming practices and is generally better for animal welfare. Using existing wool instead of increasing the demand for sheep farming.
Common misconceptions about recycled wool clothes
Despite the benefits — there are many misconceptions about recycled wool clothes. You might assume that recycled wool clothes would be lower quality than virgin wool. But that's not true. With proper sorting, cleaning, and re-spinning — recycled wool can actually produce high-quality yarns.
Another misconception is about the style of recycled wool clothes. Thinking the styles are limited. But recycled wool can be finished and processed in many styles, just like conventional wool.
Sustainable fashion brands and initiatives
Many brands have made recycled wool a key part of their collections. Brands like Asket, Aiayu, Organic Basics, Colorful Standard and Tentree have collections with recycled wool garments. This also shows the variety of clothing styles that can be produced with recycled wool. Look out for Textile Exchange's Responsible Wool Standard (RWS). A standard to enforce ethical and sustainable practices of wool through the supply chain.
Considerations for consumers
When choosing recycled wool clothes, think through the same criteria as buying any clothes. Things like price, fit, style, and durability. Look for brands that focus on sustainability and talk transparently about their manufacturing process. Particularly where, and by who the garment was made.
When considering recycled wool clothes, it can be useful to think about the cost per wear. Taking into account the price and how long the item might last you. A more expensive, higher-quality item can actually work out cheaper in the long run.
While recycled wool garments may be slightly more expensive than conventional wool. They can be more durable and also have strong environmental benefits.
FAQs about recycled wool
How is recycled wool different from conventional wool?
Recycled wool and conventional wool are sourced and produced differently. Conventional wool is from sheep through shearing. But recycled wool is made from existing wool that would otherwise be in landfill. The recycling process transforms waste wool into new fibers. Both reducing the need for virgin wool production and reducing environmental impact.
Is recycled wool as warm as conventional wool?
There are no differences in the warmth of the wool if it was recycled or not. Recycled wool holds onto its insulation properties. So recycled wool will still keep you cosy in the cold months.
Can recycled wool be used for all types of clothing?
Absolutely. Common types of recycled wool clothes include jumpers, jackets, socks, hats, gloves and scarves. You will even see recycled wool upholstery for furniture.
Is recycled wool more expensive than traditional wool?
The cost of recycled wool can vary based on the brand, quality, or availability of wool waste. Sometimes the price will be similar to conventional wool, and other times it will be a bit higher. As recycling requires a more specialised process. But as the demand for recycled wool increases — the cost will come down.
Can recycled wool be recycled again?
Recycled wool be recycled many times. Similar to how you can recycle plastic again and again. But, each time — the quality of the fibres can degrade. Still, you can recycle wool a lot of times. Which significantly extends its lifespan and minimises waste.
Can recycled wool be blended with other materials?
Yes, recycled wool can be blended with other fibres to create different fabrics. Common blends include recycled wool with recycled polyester, or recycled wool with cotton. Blending is usually done to improve certain properties of the material — like durability, stretchiness or softness.
Recycled wool is a great choice for those looking for sustainable materials. And it shows a lot of potential in the fashion industry. Discarded wool can be given a new life. Reducing waste, saving natural resources, and pushing a circular economy. Recycling technologies will continue to improve and awareness around recycled wool will grow. Becoming a more mainstream material choice in clothing production.