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What’s Wrong With Wool?

Posted by at 12:28 PM | Permalink | Comments (10)


What's wrong with wool? by Steve Martindale

©2010 Jupiterimages Corporation

I’ve always appreciated the thermal efficiency and comfort of synthetic fleece, so I haven’t purchased wool products in a long time. But until a few years ago, I thought that wool came from happy sheep, cavorting in wide-open pastures and lovingly cared for by compassionate farmers who sheared them with tenderness and concern. Just like when I cut my English sheepdog’s hair so that he doesn’t get too hot in the summer, right? I soon found out how wrong that notion was when I saw this (warning: graphic content):

I don’t know about you, but that video leaves me determined to shut down the wool industry. Mulesing-in which lambs have large chunks of skin and flesh sliced from their backsides-and live export, in which sheep are packed onto ships to the Middle East for slaughter, are both common practices among wool producers. These poor sheep are victims of these painful and  unnecessary abuses, which are driven by little more than mindless convenience and profit.

It doesn’t have to be that way. Two simple reforms would eliminate most of the abuse in the Australian wool industry (the supplier of most of the world’s merino wool): Stop mulesing and stop exporting sheep for slaughter. PETA has been actively fighting for Australian sheep for nearly a decade, and the plan to end mulesing was simple enough: Switch to raising sheep who haven’t been bred for the excess folds of skin that produce more wool but that provide a haven for parasites. Then there would be no need to whack off the skin and flesh on their rear ends and leave them a bloody mess. That straightforward plan worked for New Zealand, where mulesing ended a few years ago. And consumers have made it very clear that they don’t want to buy wool from mulesed lambs. Thanks to PETA’s education campaign, dozens of retailers and designers worldwide are boycotting wool from mulesed lambs. In fact, the world’s largest buyer of Australian wool has demanded an end to mulesing.

But Australian Wool Innovation (AWI), the trade group that is supposed to explore innovations, is stuck in Depression-era farm practices and has succumbed to inertia and pressure from those who trade animal abuse for shortsighted profit. AWI had disingenuously agreed to phase out mulesing by the end of 2010. What it actually did was spend several years on foot-dragging and an unsuccessful lawsuit against PETA while sheep continued to suffer. Because efforts to work with AWI have proved futile, PETA has now offered a deal directly to the Australian government. If it pursues an aggressive genetic program to produce bare-breech sheep, eliminating the need for mulesing, then the potential corporate campaigns will be put on hold. This replacement effort should only take a couple of years. If that goal is not met, then the government should stop funding AWI. PETA has also asked the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative to make that timeline a condition for signing a trade agreement with Australia.

And all those consumers and retailers? They have stepped it up a notch as well. Gap Inc, Macy’s Inc., Liz Claiborne Inc., Ann Taylor, Phillips-Van Heusen Corporation, Perry Ellis International, Nordstrom, and many others have all signed a letter to the Australian government calling on it to end the mulesing mutilation.

About the export for slaughter part: Transport ships that take sheep to the Middle East are hell on Earth. There is no disputing that fact, and we must stop the exports. But the grim reality of wool is that when sheep are too old, sick, or infirm for their job, most are not going to face a happy retirement-on any continent. They face the slaughterhouse, which brings me back to appreciating synthetic fleece and cotton, for more important reasons than their comfort and utility.

If you would like to help stand up for sheep, please sign the petition found here: http://bit.ly/b178xo

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10 Comments

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    Vicky Slay says...

    May 21st, 2010, 9:38 pm

    Thank you for making me aware of such cruel methods used on gentle sheep. I usually do not buy wool products, but will check to make sure no wool is in the synthetics I purchase. I am appauled by the cruelty methods they use and how some people have no remorse for what they do. God help the sheep.

    christine wind says...

    June 28th, 2010, 11:59 pm

    There are so many things to be educated about. Would you consider providing a ‘bulleted’ list of products that come from cruelty to animals for those of us that are already committed to your cause?

    The list I am requesting would include brands that use animal research, kinds of products that may say “fake fur” but are not, products that are filled with animal products and you may not be able to tell, names of fabrics that come from animal sources, and any other product, brands, issues that need avoiding.

    Also, I am interested in how prevalent animal research is in Universities.

    Sherif Hamdy says...

    June 29th, 2010, 12:15 pm

    Hi Christine,

    Please see our Caring Consumer website for a searchable database of cruelty-free products:

    http://search.caringconsumer.com/

    Additionally, PETA Living also has a great guide for clothes:

    http://www.peta.org/living/clothingguide.asp

    Hope that helps and thank you for choosing to lead a compassionate life.

    Yvonne says...

    August 13th, 2010, 5:28 am

    I makes lots of felt crafts. I will never again buy wool mixture felt. I now only use sythetic felt which is made from recycled plastic bottles. I was unable to watch the whole of Pink’s video. What kind of world treats the very weakest this way. Keep up the humane work Peta!

    E says...

    September 27th, 2010, 12:50 am

    hmmm sooo i am against animal cruelty, but i’m not totally informed with everything, and i recently bought Ugg boots cause everyone has told me it doesn’t harm the sheep, and that it’s just their fur, not their skin… i dont know what to do now, should i just not wear them anymore? :S

    nancytd says...

    September 28th, 2010, 4:42 pm

    E, If you can still return them, that is a good option. If not, you do not want to fill a landfill with them imo. I would say the important thing is not to support this practice by making future wool purchases.

    Evester says...

    October 16th, 2010, 11:17 pm

    How can those men sleep at night??? Those lambs were getting their throats slit and limbs hacked off while they were conscious. This is a reality not many Americans realize. Please stop this inhumane act. Please put them out of business for good.

    CORINA SMITS says...

    December 9th, 2010, 10:32 am

    DON’T WEAR UGGs BOOTS !!!!!!
    YOU WEAR BLOOD !!!!

    AnnA Felice says...

    November 14th, 2013, 10:50 am

    NEVER WEAR UGGS AGAIN!!!!!!!! They are horrible and if you watched that video you would be crying!!!!!! SO STOP WEARING UGGly UGG BOOTS!!!!!!!

    Krissy says...

    November 15th, 2013, 3:55 pm

    Ick!!!! I never thought to purchase a pair of ugg boots. I have always thought it looks like you have your foot wrapped in a ferret. Now, after watching the video, not only will I NEVER buy from this company, I will never buy any wool product from Austriala!!!! Shame on any one or corporation that profits from cruelty of animals! My family and I have always loved animals, and have now upped our efforts to make sure we are sticking to making positive purchases, so as not to support companies that benefit from animal cruelty.

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