Why we chose Merino wool for our sustainable shirts.
Merino wool was a natural choice when we considered which fibre was ideal to make our sustainable shirts. Merino is natural, sustainable, biodegradable but also benefits the wearer by no smelling after days of wear and regulates temperature, keeping you cool in warm climates.
We researched other “Eco” fabrics and found some startling facts that make them far from environmentally friendly.
Take cotton for instance. It’s a natural fibre that grows around the world so most people would associate this as an eco-friendly fibre. It’s only when you dig deeper that you find out that every cotton shirt uses at least 2,700 litres of water to grow and if it’s not organic cotton, then the crop will have been grown using a huge amount of insecticides (16.5%) of the global use to be exact) .
If you want a crease free cotton shirt, then the fibres will be treated with the nasty chemical “Formaldehyde” that stiffens the fabric, keeping them more rigid and therefore resilient to creasing. This chemical sits next to your skin when you wear the shirt and while there are no current studies on how harmful this could be to the wearer, ask yourself if you feel comfortable wearing a shirt treated with a toxic chemical.
BENEFITS OF WEARING A MERINO SHIRT OVER COTTON.
One of the other options we looked at was bamboo, the fibre that grows really fast and again is 100% natural, or so we thought.
To make clothing from bamboo clothing, the farmers use the leaves and inner pith from the trunk if the hard bamboo trunk which are extracted by steaming them and then crushing the trunk to reach the pith.
The leaves and pith are then cooked in a cocktail of harmful chemical solvents, the primary being sodium hydroxide and carbon disulphide which are both harmful to humans and the environment.
The fibres are then drawn out in using acid bath that helps the fibres stiffen and go hard to produce a viscose fibre that is ready to be shipped to the fabric mill for spinning. These hard fibres are then softened to get a usable fibre by blending them with other rayon fibres. Rayon is a man-made fibre created from cellulose found in plants and trees and processed with chemicals that give off hazardous air pollution.
Many fashion companies use bamboo and claim they selected this fibre to help save the planet but none of these brands expose the fact that the process to produce bamboo fabric is so harmful to the planet and uses toxic chemicals that are harmful to humans. Several large brands have recently been fined for falsely claiming their products were environmentally friendly and were 100% bamboo.
After researching all of the so called “Eco Friendly” fibres, we concluded that merino was really the only option we could use. It’s eco credentials were peerless but alongside the sustainability and eco attributes, there are also some other amazing properties that backed our decision.
Merino is the only fibre that is naturally anti-bacterial and wont breed bacteria. Some brands shout the same about Bamboo, which is true if the product was 100% bamboo, but when blended with Rayon, this reduces the anti-bacterial benefit and we can only find a study where someone wore a bamboo t shirt for a maximum of 3 days. Merino on the other hand will never smell, regardless of how many days, weeks, months you decide to wear it.
Merino is also UV resistant and heat regulating, which makes it the perfect shirt to wear in warm climates to help maintain your cool while protecting you from harmful UV rays.
We were not only focussed on the pre-production manufacturing process but took our research further and started to look at the after care and usability of the merino fibres.
Washing your clothes damages the fibres that break away and wash into the water system and eventually into our oceans. Using a natural fibre means the fibres break down much faster than synthetics and don’t actually reach the oceans
Because our shorts don’t smell or crease, you can wear it for several days without needing to wash it, saving tonnes of water and energy while maintaining a longer life for your shirt.
When the shirt eventually comes to the end of its life and ends up in landfill, the fibres degrade naturally into the soil within a couple of months without leaving any toxic fibres or chemicals behind.