The Truth About Wool and Cotton

Reprinted from the American Vegan Society and The Green Guide

Reprinted from American Vegan Society

The primary damage done to the earth by sheep is in their destructive grazing. It is commonly thought that sheep graze on land that is unfit for cultivation. But studies in many areas of the world, such as the Sahara desert, reveal that sheep grazing is the final step in a deterioration of agricultural practices. In their grazing, sheep and goat will eat tree seedlings, which inhibits trees from growing, and sand – gradually increasing in depth – eventually takes over. Trees restore the water level and soil fertility, they increase rainfall and humidity and they provide food and she for forest animals and birds.

Sheep under domestication are an easy prey for animals such as coyotes and dogs. Measures against coyotes by farmers in the U.S. include widespread use of poisoned bait. Other victims of poisoning are golden eagles, hawks, bluebirds, badgers, bobcats, skunks, mink and bears.

Nowadays there is orlon and numerous acrylic and other fibers made into socks, sweaters and blankets. They are very similar to wool in many of its characteristics, and superior in many respects, such as non-allergenic properties and ease of washing. Rayon, made of wood-cellulose, cotton and kapok are other alternative materials.



Reprinted from The Green Guide #22

Cotton has a reputation for being pure, the best fabric for a baby’s diapers or a first t-shirt. However, most cotton goods sold today don’t deserve that natural reputation. During cotton production and processing, lots of unnatural and highly hazardous chemicals are used. Growing cotton uses about 10% of the world’s pesticides and 22.5% of all insecticides. About a 1/3 of a pound of chemicals are used to make just one cotton shirt, according to the Sustainable Cotton Project in California. In processing and bleaching cotton, dioxin (a known toxin) is produced during chlorine bleaching. Many garments are first bleached white before they are dyed another color. Heavy metals such as chromium and copper are commonly used to “fix” darker colors. Due to cotton’s natural resistance to dyes, roughly half the chemicals used end up as waste in rivers and soil.

Fortunately, more and more farmers are growing organic cotton without toxic chemicals. Watch out for organic cotton that is dyed with “low impact” reduced heavy metals that occur in nature. They are still toxic. There are, however, many indigenous people that are growing cotton in natural colors like brown and green hears. FoxFibre sells fabric from organic cotton grown in colors. Other companies to check out are: Allegro, Seventh Generation and Patagonia.

Wool and Cotton

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