IT’s never been more important to select the materials in our built environment responsibly. As well as human wellbeing increasingly, we need to think about the impact we make on the planet.
Wool is a is truly smart choice, and New Zealand wool offers benefits for the health and wellbeing of humans, animals, and our planet.
Wool is often promoted as ‘sustainable’ and compared to synthetic materials it certainly is. However, it’s not good enough to claim sustainability purely based on a fibre being natural.
Unlike plastics which are largely manufactured from crude oil, Wool is not only 100% natural and rapidly renewable, but it also stores more carbon in its structure than it takes to grow it.
New Zealand Wool has been estimated to be carbon negative by 510gms per kg.
Carpets made from wool last for years, decades in some cases. At their end of their first life can be re-cycled.
Wool is Planet friendly, People Friendly, and Style Friendly; here is why:
It starts here
New Zealand was founded on wool. It was first sighted by Europeans in the late 1700’s right at the time Britain was undergoing the industrial revolution. New Zealand is the ideal climate for sheep, it’s a place where they live free range all year round. Over the last two centuries farmers have refined their farming practices to grow whiter and brighter wool, by taking care to select the right rams and by ensuring the land is clean, free from non-native plant species such as thistles that can contaminate wool.
Family owned farms
Wools of New Zealand is 100% owned by farming families and, like all New Zealanders, they care about passing on our world to the next generation in as good, if not better, condition than it is now. Wools of New Zealand aim to lead the world in growing the highest quality wool in the most environmentally sensitive way. It’s not just about doing less damage than other fibres. Growing wool is part of a natural carbon cycle that benefits the planet.
New Zealand has the ideal climate to grow wool from the estimated 26 million sheep inhabitants, bred to produce the perfect fibres for carpets.
Wools of New Zealand’s growers act as guardians of the land to ensure it is passed to the next generation in great condition. These growers take their role as guardian seriously, using both passed down expert knowledge and scientific research to create fibre as efficiently and sustainably as possible.
New Zealand sheep farms contain 25% of New Zealand’s native bushlands, sequestering vast amounts of carbon from the atmosphere. The most recent scientific studies show that the average New Zealand farm is carbon neutral.
As well as all the trees and grasslands soaking up the C02, the wool itself is 51% carbon. Grass absorbs C02, sheep eat the grass and turn it into carpet wool.
Sheep do produce methane, which is not good stuff for the ozone layer. The vast amount of C02 absorbed by the biomass on the farm’s balances that out entirely. This is not carbon offsetting; it is how nature works when things are done in a truly sustainable way.
Tranparent value chains
Wool is scoured (cleaned) in New Zealand before being exported to Wools of New Zealand’s partners for further processing into yarns and then carpets. Products that are manufactured from Wools of New Zealand’s fibre can carry the famous’ Fernmark’ logo.
As well as selling its own brand of carpets in New Zealand the company exports wool all over the world to manufacturers of both residential and contract flooring.
Ulster Carpets use Wools of New Zealand’s Laneve wool for their Open Spaces range of carpets. 100% of the fibre in Laneve products is traceable back to the farms, which are audited for excellence in land management and animal welfare. Laneve products may only contain 100% renewable fibres.
As well as being gentle on the planet while being grown, wool in carpet form provides outstanding thermal insulation and lasts a very long time. During the use phase wool is easy to maintain and offers amazing benefits to people.
Wool is remarkably resilient and can be bent 20,000 times without breaking, meaning it won’t flatten. Wool does not get scratched like a polymerised plastic fibre. It has a very fine wax layer that repels liquids and dirt. It has been said that wool is the antidote to the fast fashion plastic fibres that are killing the planet.
Wool is biodegradable, even in cold ocean water, but that does not matter. A study by the University of Leeds into micro-fibres in the oceans found all other textile fibres except wool. People often only think of laundering clothes when they think of micro-fibre pollution, however carpets made of plastic, that wear over time are a major risk. Laneve wool carpets are ocean safe.
Wool carpets offer a safer, quieter more breathable place to be, Wool carpets absorb indoor air toxins and lock them away for up to thirty years. Wool fibres are non-allergenic, completely safe for allergy and asthma sufferers and can control room humidity. This is a distinct advantage over synthetic or hard flooring.
A study in Sweden found that after removing wool carpets from schools, rates of childhood asthma increased by 300% in the population.
Wool carpets will trap air-born particles and keep them out of the breathing zone. And if you are worried about virus’s, absorbent textiles and fibres are shown to rob bacteria of their moisture. A virus will potentially survive much longer on plastic or hard surfaces than it will on wool carpets.
Wool offers amazing sound benefits. The millions of individual fibres of varying diameter and crimp absorb a wider range of frequencies than any other carpet fibre. Whereas sound will reflect and be intensified by hard surfaces, wool carpets dampen noise and allow for greater concentration and productivity.
With wool there is less chance of ignition, less likelihood of flames spreading and less smoke, than with plastic carpet fibres, which makes wool one of the safest materials for any living environment.
Wool is one of the most reliable materials when it comes to fire safety. If you compare it to many other textile materials, wool fibres are naturally resistant to burning due to their high keratin protein and moisture content.
As well as being more difficult to ignite, there is also a much lower risk of a fire spreading as wool burns only weakly, forming a char which tends to extinguish flames.
Research in New Zealand compared the performance of 100% wool and 100% nylon carpets of identical construction, together with a similar one with 100% polypropylene pile. Compared to the wool carpet, smoke levels were around 10 x higher for the nylon carpet and 80 x higher for the polypropylene.
Traceable & accountable
Wools of New Zealand works with textile and carpet mills around the world. Its wool can be traced back to farm to ensure full integrity. The wool can even be forensically verified via isotopes to prove its origin. This means products carrying the Wools of New Zealand brand can be trusted. The specifier can be assured that every attempt was made to grow the fibre with respect for people, animals and the planet.
New Zealand Strong wool is exceptional. It’s an iconic part of NZ’s national identity. It’s a critical element in the national economy. And it’s at the centre of life for countless NZ families—their histories, and their futures.
With the world now waking up to the perils of plastics, whether it be micro-plastics escaping into the environment, risk of fire, or risk from harsh chemicals, wool offers a natural flooring solution that has been proven to work for centuries. With the world’s love affair with oil finally over, wool, the hero fibre is ready.
Why it’s the right time for wool
Wool has incredible benefits to human health and for the planet. Wool is a 100% renewable fibre that we grow in New Zealand on our own farms. It is in plentiful supply and has been developed over centuries to be the perfect fibre for carpets, and it has a significantly lower carbon impact than plastic.
Wool the hero fibre
Wool is an animal fibre that occurs naturally as the fleece of a sheep. As New Zealand sheep farming is very advanced, we have 30% lower carbon footprint than wool, grown in the UK.
Wool is a carbon sink with 51% of its composition being carbon. It is of course grown on farms that store carbon in the soil and in vegetation, as much as 4.5Kt per farm. A very recent study shows that the average New Zealand farm can be considered carbon neutral.
According to the latest economic data New Zealand wool’s carbon impact is 0.426 C02-e, when calculated as a percentage of a total farm impact. That’s 426 grams of carbon created for every kg of wool. Which means even without considering all the carbon stored on farms, wool is already a carbon negative fibre, by 86 grams per kg.
Crunching all the carbon data shows that New Zealand wool embeds carbon, which means farms sequester vast amounts of carbon making 1kg of wool -7.5kg CO2e.
Using New Zealand wool in flooring can help reverse climate change, provide a healthier and greener indoor environment and alleviate man’s addiction to fossil fuels.
Wiedemann S, Ledgard S, Henry B, Yan MC, Mao N, Russell S (2015) Application of life cycle assessment to sheep production systems: investigating co-production of wool and meat using case studies from major global producers.
Case B, Ryan C (2021) An analysis of carbon stocks and net carbon position for New Zealand sheep and beef farmland.
Beef and Lamb New Zealand (2021) Compendium of New Zealand farm facts
IWTO (2019) Wool in Marine Environments.
AgResaerch, Microfibre Pollution and the Marine Biodegradation of Wool.
Curtis W. Hamman (2010) Energy for Plastic