Wednesday 3 August 2016

A New Standard Of Wool Supply From Patagonia

Wool is one of the most sustainable fibres available to us. It grows and is replenished as a natural resource, providing a fabric that regulates temperature, is naturally water-resistant, hypoallergenic and long-lasting. Wool is a gift in many ways.
It's rare to find a manufacturer that can see that and treat the animals from which wool comes with the appropriate level of respect. Outdoor brand Patagonia is one of that saintly few. Since 2011 they've partnered with an Argentine farming collective, Orvis 21, to source merino wool at the highest level of ethical stewardship. It all seemed like a winning situation.
Then, last year, PETA released photos showing the abuse of sheep at the Orvis 21 compound. Dismayed, Patagonia took drastic measures. The company decided to stop buying wool from any supplier until they could guarantee the right level of animal welfare.
It's taken a year. Now, finally, Patagonia have restarted their wool programme. And it's a step change.
The Patagonia Wool Standard has been undertaken with consultation from highly respected names in husbandry and welfare, including Dr Temple Grandin. It takes as a baseline the Responsible Wool Programme, which for many manufacturers would be above and beyond the call of duty. And then it goes much, much further.
Apart from the welfare of the sheep under its care, Patagonia also looked closely at land management, ensuring that the pasture on which the animals graze is well looked after. Issues like pesticide and fertiliser use and the protection of the land's biodiversity are all carefully monitored as part of the programme.
Above all, Patagonia came to the realisation that wool is a byproduct of animals that are bred for slaughter. It was their responsibility to make sure those animals were given a life as stress-free as possible. From birth to a compassionate end, the Patagonia Wool Standard is designed to respect the sheep who provide them with the highest quality of wool for their needs.
Our View: it's unusual to see a company that admits a keystone policy has gone wrong, but Patagonia's approach to animal welfare is something else again. I can't think of another company that would put a halt to the production of a major line for nearly a year to make sure it is produced responsibly. A tip of the hat to them.

To find out more about the Patagonia Wool Standard, start with the press release.  

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