Our sheep farmers do more than just feed a nation

Those wanting to help the environment and lead a more sustainable, plastic-free life, are being encouraged to embrace wool by the Farmers’ Union of Wales.

Speaking ahead of Wool Week 2019 ( 07 - 20 October), which aims to highlight wool’s natural performance qualities and ecological benefits, FUW Vice President Ian Rickman said: “Every year our sheep will produce a new fleece and they will do so as long as there is grass for them to graze on, making wool an excellent renewable fibre source.  

“That is especially true if compared to synthetic fibres, which require oil and refineries and are a non-renewable resource for man-made fibre production.”

Ian added that sheep farmers actively work to safeguard the environment and improve efficiency in livestock production. The pull on natural resources and reductions required in the use of fossil fuels he says, means that consumers will have to look at their longer-term choices. 

“We feed the nation with sustainable and well cared for lamb and take our responsibility to look after the environment seriously. We share concerns about plastic and micro-fiber pollution in our oceans and soil, as well as pollution from fossil fuels. 

“Fabrics such as polyester, nylon, acrylic, and other synthetic fibres are all forms of plastic and makeup about 60 percent of the material that makes up our clothes worldwide. 

“And those tiny plastic particles which are shed from our clothes will eventually end up in our oceans and take a very long time to degrade in the soil. We, therefore, need to make choices on an individual level in terms of what we consume - be it food or clothes.”

The solution to the problem, the FUW believes, is wool produced by sheep here in Wales.  

“There are over 10 million sheep in Wales, which means we have access to a great resource right here on our doorstep. Wool at the end of its useful life can be returned to the soil. Where it decomposes, it releases valuable nutrients into the ground and it only takes a very short time to break down. It doesn’t pollute the oceans and has many other benefits. 

“Therefore, if you want to do your bit for the environment, buy local and in-season food and consider wool as a viable alternative to man-made fibres.”