Thursday, May 21, 2009

Greenwash......its everywhere and driving me nuts! So many people are jumping on the bandwagon of 'eco' and 'green' and 'environmentally friendly' and 'organic' that it makes me mad!

Why am I having this rant? Well today a friend emailed me regarding our recycled wool.....she had seen the ideal website with seemingly ideal values that would be perfect as an outlet for our recycled wool.

Now when I say really is! We have access to lots and lots of waste British wool....actually its better than that..... it has been processed in Devon, dyed lovely colours in Devon, then used for making designer carpets by hand weavers (our waste is the ends and bits from looms) 400 yards from out unit!!! so talk about keeping fibre miles down!
We sort it into colours and then chop it up and put it through the Garnett machine which makes it into fluff again for felt, stuffing, hanging basket linings, re spinning etc etc. It looks like the stuff in the picture here and is lovely!

Well the problem it seems is it may be local, it may be recycled, it may have amazingly low fibre miles, it may be 100% British wool......BUT
.......its not organic!
Flippin heck.....nobody is going to eat it ....are they?
Well apparently nice eco folks don't want stuff like this, they would prefer to buy organic wool......but why?

So I looked into the issues.....most people it seems trust the word 'organic'...dosent seem to matter where it comes from so long as its organic....because organic is 'safe'
Mmmmmm I agree to a point and when buying food I buy 1. local, 2.local organic, 4.Other, in that order and if the organic is from the otherside of the world often 'other' will get my vote!
Why? Because I know there is nothing magic about words! Because I know most food produced on the small farms of the West Country is not full of pesticides and herbicides nor boosted by tons of artificial cannot afford them, must comply with cross compliance or lose their Single Farm Payment (lots of environmental conditions) and if in a scheme Higher or Entry level Stewardship.....lots more conditions.
Livestock farmers are very careful with medicines which are strictly regulated and very expensive. (Intensive chickens and pigs are slightly different but thats another can of worms)

So what makes wool organic? We looked into this when we looked at and decided not to go down the organic route with our sheep. Sheep have to 'go into conversion' when born non organic....they are never organic but their lambs are. However the wool is considered organic....confused.....I was!
It seems that the theory is that whilst a sheep farmer can worm and use pour ons propylactically if an 'ordinary' farmer if organic he, or she can use the same products but to treat a problem rather than prevent it......However this is what most sheep farmers do! treating 'just in case' causes resistance to medicines, problems with meat withdrawl and is incredibly expensive....which with the prices of lambs and sheep being until recently rock bottom made no economic sense at all.
But we don't eat but we wear it and what about all those terrible toxic dips farmers put their sheep through?................Well dipping is practically unheard of except in huge hill flocks and even then the regulations are very tight and organo phosphate dips are virtually a thing of the past!..........their danger to human health is well known.
So just about all British wool is incredibly safe.....
The sting in the tail is that we export 70% of British wool and import 70% from abroad .......Heaven knows what some non European nations use on their sheep!!!


Blu said...

Wow Woolly, things are certainly moving on apace. Organic, Bio, Green, are phrases that stick in peoples minds. Sounds like yours should be called Common Sense Wool.

Best wishes Blu x

Greentwinsmummy said...

Its infuriating ;oO
What keeps me going is that we are hopefully in the *grey* years,when things are very confusing for people,theres so much out there,so much information, & alot of it wrong :oS
I hope that as the years tick on,people really really see things for what they are,with folks such as yourself educating & talking about such matters,that can only help :o)

Greenwash is tiresome grrr pah.

Keep plodding away,keep smiling,keep being real :o)
GTM x x xx

The Shepton Witch said...

Trouble is, people have been bombarded by buzz-words and really don't look into what they mean. Very often, I hear people talking about wanting 'organic' rather than risking GM foodstuffs, yet the two have nothing to do with each other. As you know, it's perfectly easy to grow a completely organic crop that is genetically modified!

It's horrifying to hear that we export 70% of our lovely wool and then import 70% from elsewhere - where's the sense in that? I suppose it must be cheaper to import lower grade, less well regulated wool than to buy the good stuff we grow at home. Completely barking mad.

I suspect it won't be too long before the word organic becomes so over-used that it, like many other mot du jour will cease to have much meaning for people and they will move on to the latest trendy thing. Let's hope that somewhere in that process a bit of common sense filters through.

Keep on ranting - we need people like you.