Purchase Certified-Organic Wool Like You Do Your Food

sheep ramblers way farm photo

Sheep on certified-organic farm, Rambler's Way in Maine. Photo: Rebecca Mir

As we look forward to Autumn/Winter 2011 fashion collections, the favorite natural fiber of the season -- from John Patrick Organic to Samantha Pleet -- is wool. But as EcoSalon's Amy DuFault points out (via Ecco Eco), there are both "environmental and ethical complexities of this natural fiber we so adore."

ramblers way farm photo

Sheep on Rambler's Way farm in Kennebunk, Maine. Photo: Rebecca Mir

In May of last year, I reported that O-Wool, the leading certified-organic wool at the time, had folded due to financial reasons. Since then, Tunney Wool Company in Philadelphia, PA, has become the new owner and distributor of certified-organic yarns, whose past clients include Patagonia, J.Crew, Timberland, Linda Loudermilk, Diane von Furstenberg, Loomstate, Bahar Shahpar, and Bodkin.

Slideshow: Tom's of Maine Founder Shows us How to Produce Ethical Wool Undergarments

In an interview with EcoSalon, Jocelyn Tunney, of Tunney Wool Company, says "One would want to purchase organic wool for the same reasons as one would want to purchase organic food." She continues, below.

It's a more sustainable farming solution, is kinder to the animals and is healthier for the consumer. Conventional wool is grown like conventional food - the land and sheep are sprayed and dipped in pesticides as a cheap means to increase salable product. The land [certified-]organic wool comes from has to go through the same transition and certification process as the land organic food comes from.

When it comes to purchasing wool garments, the greenest wool is the wool you already own. Recycled wool is a close second. But when neither is an option, you want to be sure that you're purchasing certified-organic and mulesing-free wool. Mulesing is a process where skin is cut from a sheep's backside to reduce flystrike, a potentially deadly condition.

Read more at EcoSalon.

Update: a former version of this article stated that Vermont Organic Fiber Co. distributed O-Wool fabrics, they have only taken over the hand knitting yarns portion of the business.

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More Wool
O-Wool, Oh No! Leading Certified-Organic Wool Supplier Folds. What Does this Mean for Green Fashion?
Smartwool Requires Wool Suppliers To End "Mulesing"
Interview with Tom Chappell, Founder of Tom's of Maine and Rambler's Way

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