What’s Wrong With Wool?
Many people have an idyllic image of happy sheep roaming green hills, but as with any industry that profits from animals, money always comes before the animals’ well-being. Below are some of the most shocking facts about the wool industry:
The world’s largest producer of wool is Australia, where mulesing is a common practice. This barbaric procedure—in which farmers carve huge chunks of skin and flesh from lambs’ backsides using tools resembling gardening shears in a crude attempt to prevent a parasitic infection called “flystrike”—is typically performed without any painkillers.
Shearers are usually paid per sheep, not by the hour, which encourages fast work without regard for the welfare of the animals. Sheep commonly sustain injuries ranging from nicks to complete amputation of their udders, ears, penises, and other body parts. According to one eyewitness, “[T]he shearing shed must be one of the worst places in the world for cruelty to animals … I have seen shearers punch sheep with their shears or their fists until the sheep’s nose bled. I have seen sheep with half their faces shorn off.”
Export and Slaughter
Most sheep are eventually killed for meat. In a process called “live export,” many are sent on a long journey on a severely crowded, multitiered ship to countries that have few, if any, animal welfare laws or regulations. These sheep—millions every year from Australia—are often slaughtered by having their throats cut while they’re still conscious.
What You Can Do
Luckily for vegan fashionistas, there are plenty of cruelty-free fabrics to choose from, including cotton, cotton flannel, polyester fleece, and synthetic shearling. You can skip the cruelty—and that icky itchy feeling—by choosing vegan options the next time that you go shopping. No amount of fluff can hide the fact that anyone who buys wool supports a cruel and bloody industry. There are plenty of durable, stylish, and warm fabrics available that aren’t made from wool or animal skins. Please join the millions of people all over the world who know that compassion is the fashion. Save a sheep—don’t buy wool.