Over the next year or so we are going to be posting regular blogs about a farm called Ystrad which is situated high in the Carmarthenshire hills. Ystrad is both organic and farmed with conservation in mind, and their Radnor sheep produce excellent wool for mattress making. The sheep are going to be the stars of these blogs but I thought I’d start with a few words about what ‘organic’ means when we’re talking about wool.
Wool is a natural, renewable, biodegradable, durable fibre, and when it’s produced on organic farms that put the sheep and the environment first it has three main benefits.
First, organic sheep are reared, fed, sheltered and transported with consideration for their well being. They aren’t routinely treated with antibiotics, wormers or pesticides and are free to pursue their natural behaviour. Cruel practices are prohibited and animal stress is minimised.
Second, there are no harmful chemicals used when organic wool is processed. The Soil Association certifies Abaca mattresses and their standards ensure that our wool has no residues of toxic chemicals. In contrast non-organic manufacture uses tens of thousands of acutely toxic chemicals, including heavy metals, formaldehyde and aromatic solvent, many of which are classified as hazardous by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and have been associated with cancer, birth defects and hormonal and reproductive effects in wildlife and humans.
Third, wool is a natural fire retardant so we don’t need to add any of those chemicals. Organic wool does not have any allergenic, carcinogenic or toxic chemical residues. Tests on conventional wool clothing have revealed traces of pesticides, fire retardants, formaldehyde and toxic dyestuffs. These residues can be inhaled or absorbed through the skin and may cause allergies, skin rashes or respiratory problems. Babies are particularly vulnerable as their skin is much thinner than adults.
So now you know why organic wool is better for the environment and why an organic sheep has a happier life!
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