Wool and the magic 3 Rs – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

When it comes to sustainable consumer behaviour many of us know the three Rs which stand for Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. If you need a little reminder, then watch Jack Johnson sing a lovely song about it.

In this blog post, we want to explore how garments made of wool can help us to reduce, reuse and recycle in an easy way.

Reduce the number of clothes needed

In our last blog post about the use phase, we already talked a little bit about how wool garments can help us reduce the use of water, energy and detergents.
We also discussed wool being a very durable fibre. This means wool garments last longer compared to garments made of other fibres. Wearing your wool garments for a long time helps you reduce the number of new clothes you need to buy.

In order to ensure that you wear your (wool) garments for as long as possible take a few things into consideration when choosing a new garment:

  • Quality – is the garment well made
  • Design – Is the design of the garment timeless or designed in such a way that I will be happy to wear it for several seasons?
  • Style and fit – does the garment really suit my body well, do I feel good in it when wearing it? Does the garment fit well, is it too big or too small?
  • Colour – is the colour suitable for my skin complexion? Can the colour be worn with many of my other wardrobe items? Will I like the colour for a long time?
  • Versatility – can I wear the garment to several different occasions? Running, hiking, leisure time, travel etc.?

Extend the life of your wool garment

The second R to help us reduce our environmental impact is ‘Reuse’ which also has several different aspects to consider.

Repair and extend the life of your garment

One way of extending the life of a garment is simply by repairing it whenever needed. Merino garments can sometimes get a little hole which can easily be stitched up. Alternatively, you could cover a hole with a little patch. If you don’t think you can repair your wool garment yourself find a local tailor who can help you extend the life of your beloved garment. You may think that a stitched up hole or cut in your garment might not look so nice. Try shifting your perspective and view each hole as something that makes your garment unique and special. Maybe you even got a certain hole during one of your outdoor adventures, then it is like a souvenir of that special moment with a story you will never forget.

Alter and update your garment

Sometimes our wool garments no longer fit well or we don’t like something about them anymore. Before throwing them out we can see if some alterations can make us love the garment again.
Maybe you started running in your merino wool garments which made you lose weight. Congratulations! But now you feel your garments are too baggy on you. Before throwing everything out and buying new clothes consult a tailor to see if your garments can be trimmed down to fit you well again. Are you not getting any use of that long sleeve garment? Ask your tailor to shorten the sleeves and you may enjoy your new t-shirt at a very little cost.

Reuse – give your garment a second and third life

Let’s face it, there are occasionally some garments which simply don’t fit into our lifestyle or wardrobe (anymore), no matter how hard we try. The best thing to do in this case is to find someone who will get joy out of your unloved items. As wool clothes are very durable they are perfect to hand off or resell to somebody where they will have a second or even third life. Research actually found that the percentage of wool garments being reused by someone else is much higher compared to garments made of other fibres.

Donate and hand me down

A simple way to extend the life of a wool garment is to hand it down to a family member or friend or donate it to your local charity shop.

Swop and resell

If you think your wool garment has a lot of value, you can also try selling it on ebay or similar second-hand e-commerce platforms. Some cities also have swapping communities or parties where you exchange your garment for another garment.

Recycle – new life in a different form

At some point of your wool garment’s life it will no longer be used and therefore disposed. However, wool garments should not just be thrown away into landfills but instead, be collected for recycling.
Wool fibre is well suited for recycling and a precious raw material for recycling companies. Different systems exist for wool recycling. One system cuts up the wool garments and creates so-called shoddy which is used in mattresses, insulation or simple felted blankets. Another system sorts wool garments by colour and mechanically shreds the garments into short wool fibres ready to be spun into recycled wool yarns.
Inform yourself where you can submit your wool garment for recycling within your community.

There you have it. This was our little guide on how you can reduce your own environmental impact by wearing wool. If you have some more ideas on how to take good care or provide a second life for your wool garment, then let us know, we would love to hear your ideas.

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