Would you rather choose merino wool or fleece?

29.9.2021, Karoliina Borodavkin

Would you rather choose merino wool or fleece? Consumers have to do real detective work, if they aim at being responsible consumers. Currently, one of the most complex issues when making purchases, is to find garments that do not contain microplastics. The most significant source of microplastics in textile industry is polyester fleece.


Microplastics in textile industry

One of the biggest sources of microplastics is textile industry which uses various man-made fibres such as polyester in its production. Fleece and technical materials typically used in sportswear are in this respect major users of microplastics in their production.

Microplastics ending up in waterways constitute a particular risk, when they are transferred into fish, microorganisms and waterfowl. Experience has shown that ecological problems are moving gradually upwards in food chain.

As far as clothing is concerned, there are several choices available, from natural fibres to man-made fibres. The best way to avoid microplastics is to consume responsibly and less. With regard to even small-scale consumption, one should choose the best possible alternative among the good and bad options, because there isn’t an entirely ecological textile.


Make responsible choices

It is worth integrating life span thinking into clothing purchases. As a consumer, you should ask the garment manufacturer, how a garment has been produced and how long the service life of the garment is. It is particularly important to pay attention to the way the garment is cared for and what happens to the garment when it is no longer used.

Natural materials such as merino wool, come from nature. Merino wool is obtained from merino sheep. Man-made fibre, such as polyester used in fleece garments is made of mineral oil. Mineral oil is a non-renewable resource, and it won’t decompose.

Two thirds of the environmental impacts during the life span of a textile product has been proven to be caused in connection with wash and care. Oil-based man-made fibres such as polyester fleece, cause environmental problems as early as during their use. During wash, microplastics come off man-made fibres, i.e. plastic fragments that are less than 5 mm in length, which end up in waterways. One of the best characteristics of merino wool is that is antibacterial. In most cases it is enough to make the garment fresh again by giving it mere airing, which means that they do not need washing as often. Thanks to its antibacterial characteristic, a merino garment stays fresh, and odours such as sweat do not stick to wool fibre in a similar manner as they do to man-made fibres.


Consumers’ right or responsibility

The microplastics problem of textile industry can be alleviated by replacing man-made fibres with natural materials. This means that consumers have a really important role in steering clothing manufacturers’ offering towards textiles made of natural materials or at least to those made of biodegradable man-made fibres, by their choices. Therefore, as far as the choices of responsible consumption are concerned, there are many other aspects involved than mere reduction of consumption. When making purchases, prefer natural fibres such as merino wool and take care of your garments to make them last longer.

#merino wool #sustainability #fleece