For many years, the vast majority of the general public has been aware of the savage cruelty behind the fur industry, and it has become increasingly socially unacceptable to wear the fur of a tortured animal.
Leather hasn’t quite caught up, but with articles appearing in the mainstream press about the ethical and environmental issues behind leather production, it is a cause that is garnering pace.
For some reason, wool has yet to make this kind of impact. While the brutal reality of angora production is becoming more of a talking point, sheep’s wool is still often seen as a harmless fabric.
But nothing could be further from the truth.
Sheep are specifically bred to produce more wool, which can lead to myriad problems.
According to animal rights group PETA: “In Australia, the most commonly raised sheep are merinos, specifically bred to have wrinkly skin, which means more wool per animal.
“This unnatural overload of wool causes animals to die of heat exhaustion during hot months, and the wrinkles also collect urine and moisture.
“Attracted to the moisture, flies lay eggs in the folds of skin, and the hatched maggots can eat the sheep alive.”
The way shearers deal with this issue is called ‘mulesing’ – in an attempt to stop eggs nestling in the animals’ skin, they cut off strips of flesh around lambs’ tails and the back of their legs, in an attempt to create ‘smooth, scarred skin that won’t harbor eggs’.
This is an incredibly inhumane solution – and often, the bloody, open wounds can harbor flies before they heal.
Perhaps some of the most troubling evidence against wool is the undercover footage showing cruelty that’s endemic in the wool industry.
A video released by PETA, which showed footage from around 30 sheep shearing sheds in America in Australia.
The footage showed sheep being punched, kicked, and thrown around.
Mimi Bekhechi, an associate director at Peta UK, says: “Sheep are gentle prey animals who are petrified of even being held down, yet these sheep were punched in the face, kicked and stamped on and had their heads slammed into the floor by unsupervised, impatient shearers, causing them great distress, injury and even death.
“Peta is calling on shoppers around the world to reject cruelty to animals – and that means never buying wool.”