Patagonia incorporates numerous materials to make our clothing and gear, and all of them, including wool, have an environmental cost. For starters, the production of wool requires vast amounts of land for grazing the sheep. In addition, wool production demands energy, water and chemicals to convert the wool from fleece shorn off the sheep into clean fiber of consistent quality, and then into beautifully dyed wool products.
One way to lessen the impact of wool production is to recycle used wool. The practice of recycling wool dates back hundreds of years. After wool sweaters had been worn threadbare, they were collected and shredded into individual fibers and then converted into blankets. Patagonia’s recycled wool comes from this same process. Aided by modern-day quality controls, the wool goes through a meticulous sorting of materials into color categories prior to shredding. By selecting and blending colors of dyed wool fabrics and garments, we can completely eliminate the dyeing process, saving water and chemicals and eliminating the resulting wastewater.
In addition, using recycled wool reduces the land use requirements for sheep grazing. It also reduces waste, thereby prolonging landfill life and in the process, reducing toxic emissions from incinerators. It encourages new recycling opportunities for wool products that are no longer usable and compared with using non-recycled wool, recycled wool contributes less air, water, and soil pollution.