More Wool, Less Plastic: Why Merino is the Answer to Sustainable Fashion
Woolly’s mission to make merino for everyone
When I ask for oat milk in my coffee, I'm often met with a question that requires a nuanced answer: 'Are you a vegan?' My response is never straightforward. Even though my diet is primarily plant-based, I cherish the occasional glass of honey made by my neighbor’s bees. I cover my leftovers with beeswax cloths before I put them in the fridge, and I own leather shoes and wool pullovers. So, for the purposes of telling the kitchen what to serve: yes, I am a vegan. From a more holistic lifestyle perspective: no, I’m not.
As someone who values comfort and longevity over fashion trends, I have a simple approach when it comes to sustainable clothing. I prioritize wearing what I already own, mending anything that needs repair and seeking out second-hand options when I do need something new. This has allowed me to enjoy the properties of natural materials like wool and leather without having to grapple with the ethical implications of buying them new. However, since I researched Woolly Clothing Co for inclusion in the askBelynda plugin, I am really tempted to add a few new basics to my wardrobe.
Sustainable Shopping Made Simple
Activewear doesn’t have to be plastic
Woolly Clothing Co was founded by a group of Seattleites who share a love for the outdoors and a passion for merino wool. Frustrated by the negative environmental impact of synthetic activewear and the high cost of natural alternatives, they set out to create a better option.
We started Woolly because we believe wool is a better everyday fabric for your next adventure, workout or commute. Whether in the backcountry or the boardroom, nothing matches the performance and versatility of merino.
From the Woolly website
Merino wool has unique properties that make it an ideal choice for activewear. It is moisture-wicking and odor-resistant, which means it will transport any sweat away from the body, and let it dry without a trace of smell. Since it’s breathable and temperature-regulating, it keeps you dry and warm in cold temperatures, and easy-breezy in the summer. This makes merino wool a great alternative to synthetic materials, which can be uncomfortable, trap heat and odor, and contribute to micro-plastic pollution.
Merino wool is known for its exceptional durability and longevity, making it an ideal material for creating high-quality, long-lasting clothing. That is a great plus for sustainability and a welcome contrast to fast fashion, where items fall apart after a season or two and often end up in landfills. What I love about Woolly’s approach to clothing is that they design with this longevity in mind. Their collections are made up of basics - without being boring. From their straightforward leggings and long-haul pants to their cozy hoodies and classic button-up shirts, Woolly's pieces are the perfect ingredients for building a versatile capsule wardrobe that can be worn for years to come.
And the best part? Because merino wool is naturally resistant to odors and stains, you don't need to wash Woolly's garments as often as you would with other materials, which means they'll last even longer.
Wait, what? Less laundry? Count me in!
Because of its natural antibacterial properties, merino wool doesn't trap odors like synthetic fabrics do. This means you can wear Woolly's garments multiple times before needing to wash them – just air them out overnight and they’re good to go again the next day.
That’s an amazing benefit, and it also comes with additional bonuses:
Less frequent washing reduces the amount of water, detergent, and energy used in laundry. In turn, this lowers the emissions generated over the lifetime of the clothes.
Wool is an unproblematic fiber in wastewater, but some of the Woolly activewear has small amounts of elastane in the blend. Those shed some micro-plastic during washing – much less when washed less frequently.
Clothes that stay fresh on their own are perfect for hikes and traveling. You can pack lighter, potentially saving on transport emissions, and you don’t have to spend a precious travel day looking for a laundromat at your destination.
Plus, less time spent doing laundry means more time for the activities you love!
All this makes merino wool a more sustainable choice for activewear and everyday clothing. In fact, studies have shown that washing and drying clothes accounts for a significant portion of a household's total climate footprint.
Merino made for all
Merino wool is often associated with being an expensive and luxurious material, making it inaccessible to many people. However, Woolly Clothing Co aims to change that perception by offering high-quality merino wool garments at a competitive price. By streamlining their production process and cutting out middlemen, they make merino wool accessible to a wider audience. Although these clothes are still an investment, their longevity and sustainability make them smart ones.
“Made for all” means more to Woolly than making sustainable fashion accessible to a wide audience. They want to use their business as a force for good, both in their business and in their local communities. They ensure responsible production practices as members of BSCI, which sets one of the highest standards for labor rights. More locally, the Seattle-based company donates profits to organizations like the Recovery Café, which serves people experiencing homelessness and mental health issues, as well as social justice causes such as Black Lives Matter Seattle and the NAACP.
A part-time vegan’s conclusion
Sustainable fashion is a complex topic with no one-size-fits-all answer. As consumers, we all need to look for choices that align with our personal values and beliefs. Some people may choose to avoid animal products entirely, while others may opt for high-quality, responsibly sourced materials that will last a long time. Woolly Clothing Co is a great option for those who fall into the latter category. With their commitment to ethical production and affordable pricing, they make it easy to feel good about natural materials like merino. As for me, I plan to add one or two Woolly basics to my wardrobe soon.
If you also want to push your wardrobe towards “more wool – less plastic”, you can download the free askBelynda Chrome extension. When you search for your new basics on Amazon, it will pop up and recommend items from cool companies like Woolly Clothing Co.
Jennifer Scales is a photo artist and train travel enthusiast. When she is not vetting companies for askBelynda, she spreads her love for sustainable travel by capturing the beauty of nature seen through the train window.
Check out her website Landscape in Motion and follow Jennifer Scales | Fine Art on Instagram to see her artwork.