We obviously have a thing for merino wool. Nowadays, when outdoor shops are full of advanced synthetic materials with cutting-edge technology, our love for merino doesn't come merely from its outstanding functionality. It comes from nature itself.
As outdoor enthusiasts, we live close to nature, we love our time spent in it and we believe everyone has their share of responsibility for its protection. That's one of the reasons we like merino wool – because it is a 100% natural and sustainable material.
What does it mean in practice? And what happens when we wear synthetics?
Let's start right at its origin. Merino wool is gained from sheep that graze on pastures. The grass grows and so do sheep, they reproduce and produce wool. Farmers shear the sheep, the wool grows again. Simple circle of nature, thanks to which merino wool is easily renewable and sustainable. The wool is used to make clothes, the clothes are worn and when they no longer serve the purpose, they can be recycled or composted. The wool is fully biodegradable. According to studies, it takes 3-9 months for a woolen item to decompose in soil. It then turns into compost and nurtures the plants, for instance the grass on pastures. The cycle goes on.
(Of course, some woolen items contain non-woolen parts as well, e.g. zippers or buttons, which we usually cannot turn into compost. Before you return your item to nature, make sure you got rid of all non-degradable parts and separate them).
Merino wool is a material nature can handle easily. She made it herself.
We won't get rid of plastics so easily
Now, imagine clothes made of polyester or similar synthetic materials. These are made from oil. Polyester is found in more than a half of all clothing produced (which is over 150 billion items per year) and it definitely does not decompose that easily. All polyester fibers ever made are still existing on Earth today. Whilst merino wool decomposes in soil completely after a few months, polyester shows no signs of degradation at all. Carbon footprint of polyester is bigger than the one of air travel and so no wonder clothing industry is the second largest polluter of our planet – just behind the oil industry.
Oceans of microplastics
It is not only what happens with our clothes when they stop serving their purpose. Whether we wear natural or synthetic materials makes difference even during its use. Yes, lots of plastics can be recycled nowadays and fortunately, they can be reused in fashion for instance. This way we can at least partially reduce its new production. By recycling 25 plastic bottles, we can turn them into one fleece jacket. Sounds quite eco-friendly, right?
We flood shops and oceans with plastics.
The truth is that fleece (most commonly made from polyester) very easily releases microplastics into environment. When washing the fleece jacket, 81-250 000 microparticles, that could weigh over 1 g altogether, get into water. These particles cannot be filtered and so they get further into rivers and oceans. Microplastics released from clothes in particular account for up to 35% of all plastics in our oceans. These can eventually get into fish, soil, or even human bodies. Microplastics are released not only during washing, though. The small particles get into environment constantly as we wear the clothes. It depends on sun, humidity or mechanical stress. That means plastics have their own cycle on Earth. Today, we can only guess how much it will affect our health and the health of our planet.
What can we do?
The question of ecology and sustainability is getting more and more urgent. Even the small steps, like choosing your clothes, may have a big impact. Natural and sustainable materials are certainly a better choice. We probably won't save the world by buying merino clothes, but at least we can contribute to reducing the plastics. Merino wool is made by nature itself and so we believe there is nothing better you can wear in it.