Friday, November 19, 2010

☆ What's Going On: What’s Wrong With Wool? ☆

Knits are in! And they are everywhere. Cute mittens, adorable beanie hats, leg-warmers, those fleece-lined Wool Jackets. They are everywhere. Which means WOOL is everywhere. 

Now, have you taken any thought into the creature of which that wool came? Probably not. 

Sheep have become hugely wronged and hugely over-looked. They are treated as nothing more than wool-making machines. 
What is wrong with this picture?

Wool comes from sheep, Correct? Yes. Taking that wool doesn't harm the sheep right? Wrong!

Many people don't consider that there is any injustice done at all in the production of wool. Well, there is! And here's the reality for you to consider. 

I strongly encourage that you watch this video:

It made me cry. It is so incredibly sad but it is something that you must watch. The injustices we do to animals is insane and so sadistic, cruel, and wrong.

If you don't want to watch the video or have something against PETA, I'm none to judge. Here's some reading material instead ~.^...

First off, let's think about it for a moment. Sheep have their naturally produced wool for a reason, don't they? Yes! It's to protect them from weather extremes. And they produce just enough to keep their bodies either cozy warm or cool in the heat. We are stripping it from them! How would you feel if someone took away your cozy winter jacket in the middle of winter? Yes, it does grow back but most sheep don't really ever get to keep their coat at all. 

The above becomes a small factor, however, when you consider that shearing those sheep has its own slue of horrors. And, as with any mass production where animals are involved, the welfare of the animals gets disregarded and neglected.

Most wool will come from Australia (about 50% of it) or New Zealand, but there are still sheep farms for wool all over the world. The problem with most of these farms is, again, the large scale means intensive sheep farming. NOT good for the animals.

  Workers are usually paid by volume vs. than by the hour, equalling a disregard for animal welfare. Sheep end up being routinely punched, kicked, and cut during that shearing process. 

  These farms are responsible for the degradation of natural waterways and land habitats. They are responsible for greenhouse gases, such as methane, as well as they are released into the atmosphere. So certainly NOT Earth-friendly! 

  140 million sheep each year (in Australia and New Zealand alone) undergo a procedure called "mulesing." **(see below for more information)

  Within weeks of birth, lambs' ears are hole-punched, their tails are chopped off, and the males are castrated without anesthetics. 

  Male lambs are castrated when they are between 2 and 8 weeks old, either by making an incision and cutting their testicles out or with a rubber ring used to cut off blood supply—one of the most painful methods of castration possible. 

  Every year, hundreds of lambs die before the age of 8 weeks from exposure or starvation, and mature sheep die every year from disease, lack of shelter, and neglect.

  After their wool has been taken the Sheep are sent off to the Middle East for slaughter.

  They will travel in overcrowded, disease-ridden ships for weeks to months. Here, they will have little access to Food or Water. They will suffer through weather extremes, where the temperatures on board can exceed 100°F. Many will become stuck in their own feces, unable to move, and will become ill because of it. Many others are smothered or trampled to death by other sheep. 

  The suffering sheep that survive the journey are dragged off the ships, loaded onto trucks, and dragged by their ears and legs to often unregulated slaughterhouses.

  Their bodies and throats are slit while they are still conscious and without pain-killers.

Starting to sound like the horrors of Factory Farming? Absolutely! As you can see, Sheep are certainly not exempt from similar horrors for their wool. 

** Mulesing Debate: **

There is some debate whether mulesing is better for the sheep or worse.
What is it? 
It is a procedure done when lambs are about 2 months old. Shears are used to slice dinner-plate-sized chunks of skin off the backsides of live animals, usually without anesthetics. Scar tissue then forms and the wool never grows back. 
Why is it done?
With no wool in that area the chance lessens of blowflies laying eggs in the moist,poo-stained wool. If flies do lay eggs, maggots emerge and the sheep becomes 'flystruck'', where the sheep is slowly eaten away from the outside. 
"Flystruck" sheep can be saved by removing the wool from the affected area--which is done by cutting the area with shears or scissors-- and treated with a chemical powder, spray, or liquid. The sheep is then closely monitored until pronounced fit to return to the flock.

Why it's InHumane:
It is said that the procedure takes a few seconds and that the lambs usually recover fairly quickly. However, it obviously still causes the sheep pain. They bleed. They have to heal. How would you like to have shears on your backside? Without painkillers to boot. 
Also, when it comes to large-scale farming proper care is often neglected. 

Wouldn't it be better to let sheep just Be? To not use them to produce wool? Is it worth their suffering to have a "fashionable" item? 

Even if you're unsure on the Mulesing debate, the animals still live upsetting lives as described further above. Again, it is a problem with any mass production, especially when it comes to animals. Sheep are still soaked in pesticides and insecticides. They can be chocked full of anti-biotics and other chemicals. The bottom line is this: They are NOT Happy animals living this way! 

Finding out where your wool products came from can also be a tricky ordeal. 
You know now that most wool comes from Australia and New Zealand, but most wool is also routed to China, Italy, or other countries for processing, so the product labeling will rarely be a good indicator as to where it was originally sourced. There are lots of other Sheep farms all over the globe, many of which have the same sadistic approach.  
Don't be easily fooled by "Organic wool" either. From what I have found the requirements are vague and questionable, not unlike Organic Meat and Dairy.

I'm not saying that "humane" sheep farms don't exist. But they are hard to come by and unless you actually go visit the farms themselves you never really know if they are happy sheep or not. 
My opinion? You are better to go without wool. 

Animals are not human commodities. They are real, living, breathing, emotional creatures! We are not better than them because we are human. 

I have made this point before, and I will again. Would you treat your pet at home the way we treat these animals? Would you put them through these same arduous procedures for the sake of fashion? Probably not. Because you consider That cruel. I will tell you again, THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE! 

Sheep have amazing characteristics, not unlike your pet. They are intelligent and have problem-solving abilities. They are able to recognize faces for years and can differentiate emotional states through facial characteristics. They are gentle animals that, like all creatures, feel pain, fear, loneliness, love, and happiness. 

Is it worth essentially having blood on your hands for fashion? Animal cruelty does not have to be involved for the sake of fashion. There are so many vegan alternatives out there.

Be Compassionate. Choose to be Wool Free.

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