What is Eco Wool?
Eco Wool is used in many of the mattresses and wool bedding that we carry. This wool is produced by Woolgather's Carding Mill in Montegue, CA. It is shorn from sheep from select domestic wool suppliers in Northern California and Southern Oregon, along the coastal region where the fog, rain and cooler weather create wonderfu grazing conditions. Although Eco Wool is not certified organic, the growers are restricted from using chemical pesticides, herbicides, antibiotics, and hormones, and they adhere to sustainability and cruelty free standards. In addition, the wool is certified organically processed.
To grow certified organical wool, Eco Wool farmers would be required to raise the sheep on organic feed from the 3rd month of gestation. Instead, these lucky sheep are allowed to graze on lush, open pastures. Eco Wool is tested at the UC Davis Animal Toxicology Lab for herbicides, pesticides, and naturally occurring heavy metals such as lead and arsenic. This wool is the purest you can find, even if its growing is not certified organic. In addition, our suppliers oppose and do not use the damaging common wool industry practices of carbonizing, chemical crimping, dipping, bleaching, harmful shearing, mulesing, and overgrazing. See below for details from Woolgather's Carding Mill.
Sustainability and cruelty free standards
Proper Grazing Methods: Our growers rotate sheep to different pastures to allow vegetation to recover from grazing. These farms do not overstock their pastures. Overstocking and infrequent rotation produces soil erosion, more invasive plants, and the need to bring in outside feed. Proper grazing techniques reduce soil erosion, create higher quality wool, and reduce the risk of sheep acquiring internal parasites.
Predator Friendly: Our growers are encouraged to use trained sheep guardian dogs, rather than trapping, poisoning, or shooting, and the inclusion of other larger animals, such as llamas, to protect their flock from predators. Predators play an important role in maintaining healthy ecosystems; therefore we simply scare them away from our sheep.
Healthy Veterinary Practices: Only certain kinds of medications and supplements can be used to treat the sheep. We encourage alternative caring methods to keep sheep healthy with the use of fewer chemicals. Generally, sheep raised in open pastures are of better health and require less veterinary care.
Chemical Control: We oppose the use of herbicides and pesticides on fields where the sheep will be grazing. We are able to determine if wool has been in contact with harmful chemicals during routine testing.
Specifications for breed, color, strength and micron-width: Our wool blend uses wool from six to eight different breeds of sheep. Our blends are chosen to create strong, durable wool batting that retains its loft and resiliency longer. We use a mix of coarse and finer wools with varying crimps to achieve our special batting.
Common wool industry practices that we oppose
Carbonizing: Wool fibers are dipped in strong acids to dissolve residual vegetable matter. We avoid all chemicals possible throughout the entire process.
Chemical Crimping: After carbonizing, wool fibers are unnaturally straightened and require a chemical “perm” like treatment in order to regain their natural crimp, coiled structure. Our wool has a natural crimp to it that lasts longer and provides superior resilience.
Dipping: At many farms, sheep are subject to a bath in a pesticide solution. We require a more holistic approach.
Bleaching: In order to get the purest white and bright colored wool fibers, most wool is bleached and dyed. Our wool remains a natural white color that is completely free of bleaches and dyes.
Harmful Shearing: Often when sheep are sheared the process is rushed, which can result in broken limbs and deep cuts into the skin. We work with highly trained shearers who are able to shear quickly and gently so that there is no harm to the sheep.
Mulesing: Cutting patches of skin of the sheep to discourage infection and inhibit flies from laying eggs in the folds is used primarily with Australian Merino sheep. None of our growers practice this method.
Overgrazing: In addition to harming the land, overgrazing decreases overall wool quality. More invasive plants begin to grow and can increase the amount of vegetable matter in the wool. More vegetable matter often makes carbonizing necessary. Our sheep are rotated from field to field in order to ensure that there is no overgrazing of the land.