What Makes it Organic?
Organic merino wool is produced using sustainable and environmentally friendly methods. This means that the wool is produced without the use of harmful chemicals such as pesticides and herbicides, which can harm the environment and potentially harm the health of the sheep and workers involved in the production process.
It is typically produced on farms that prioritize sustainable farming practices, including crop rotation, responsible use of water, and conservation of natural resources. These farms also prioritize animal welfare, ensuring that the sheep are treated humanely and provided with a natural and healthy living environment.
In addition, for merino wool to be considered organic, it must be certified by independent organizations, such as ZQ Merino, or the Global Organic Textile Standard, which all have strict guidelines for organic farming and textile production. The Organic Content Standard (OCS) similarly carries out organic certification processes and is often considered the stepping stone to GOTS certification. These certifications ensure that the wool is produced in an environmentally and socially responsible manner, and may require regular inspections and audits to maintain the certification.
Overall, this organic variation offers a more sustainable and ethical option for consumers who want to support responsible and eco-friendly textile production practices.
How is Organic Wool different from Ecological Wool?
Organic wool and ecological wool are both produced using sustainable and environmentally friendly methods. However, differences exist in how they are classified.
As mentioned, organic wool specifically refers to wool that has been produced according to strict organic standards. These standards are established and certified by independent organizations.
There is no single definition, certification, or standard for ecological wool. It is typically produced using low-impact farming methods that minimize the use of chemicals, reduce the environmental impact, and protect biodiversity. However, to be considered ecological, wool does not need to meet the same strict standards that an organic wool certification requires.
Which other Fabrics are Organic?
Organic clothing materials are made from fibers that are grown and processed using organic farming methods without the use of synthetic pesticides, herbicides, or fertilizers. Here are some examples of organic clothing materials:
- Organic Cotton - This is cotton that is grown without the use of synthetic chemicals. It is grown using natural methods such as crop rotation, composting, and the use of natural predators to control pests.
- Hemp - This is a sustainable crop that requires little water and no pesticides or herbicides. It is also very durable and long-lasting.
- Organic Wool - This is wool that comes from sheep that have been raised on organic farms. These sheep are not exposed to synthetic chemicals and are fed organic food.
- Linen - This is a natural fiber that is made from the flax plant. It is grown without the use of synthetic chemicals and is known for its durability and strength.
- Tencel - This is a type of rayon made from wood pulp that is processed using a closed-loop system, which means that the chemicals used are recycled and reused.
- Bamboo - This is a fast-growing and renewable resource that requires no pesticides or fertilizers to grow. It is also very soft and comfortable to wear.
Why isn’t Organic Enough?
It's important to note that just because a material is made from organic fibers, it doesn't necessarily mean that it's sustainable or environmentally friendly. The entire manufacturing process, responsible transporting, and having a full-circle value chain play a big role as well. At snöleo, we only sell through eCommerce to reduce the overall carbon footprint produced by additional transportation.
What is ZQ Merino and why do we only use ZQ certified wool?
ZQ Merino is a brand and certification program that focuses on sustainable and ethical practices in the production of Merino wool. The ZQ Merino program was developed by The New Zealand Merino Company, which is a global leader in the production and marketing of Merino wool. You can check out their website here
The ZQ Merino program requires that the wool comes from sheep that have been treated ethically and humanely and that the wool is traceable to the source. The program also requires that the wool is produced using sustainable and environmentally friendly farming practices, such as reducing the use of chemicals and water, improving soil health, and promoting biodiversity.
In addition to its focus on sustainability and ethics, ZQ Merino wool is also known for its high quality and performance. ZQ Merino wool fibers are finer and softer than other types of wool, making them more comfortable to wear against the skin. The wool is also naturally breathable, moisture-wicking, insulating, and odor-resistant, making it a popular choice for outdoor and performance clothing.
Overall, ZQ Merino is a certification program that ensures that the wool is produced sustainably and ethically, while also delivering high-quality and high-performance wool fibers.
As mentioned before - the organic title means nothing unless sustainability is in all parts of the value chain. Since our company is a good deeds company we’d much rather just use the right material with the right sourcing and take a smaller margin so that we can offer the best and ethically sound material to our customers. The ZQ Partnership is a very important part of our production.
What is ZQRX - Regenerative Wool?
ZQRX is a regenerative agriculture index established by the New Zealand-based company ZQ Merino. It ensures that the produced wool meets strict sustainability and regenerative farming standards. The ZQRX program has three core principles: soil health, animal welfare, and social responsibility. To achieve certification, farmers must meet strict criteria within all three principles through the following practices:
- Applying regenerative agriculture techniques
- Treating the sheep humanely
- paying fair wages to workers and supporting the local community
What is the Responsible Wool Standard (RWS)?
Wool manufacturers that are certified by the Responsible Wool Standard (RWS) meet both the high standards and requirements for animal wellbeing and environment protection set by RWS. The RWS is a global standard that includes a full circle assessment of the wool production process, addressing animal welfare, land management, and social responsibility. The rigorous criteria set by the RWS help ensure that:
- The sheep have fair living standards, access to land for grazing, and that they are treated with respect
- Farms manage their lands progressively, reduce their environmental impact and minimize their use of harmful pesticides
- Workers have fair work conditions and receive a living wage
Snöleo partners only with wool manufacturers that are ZQRX-certified and RWS certified.
Why did we choose Merino Wool out of all of these options?
It’s no surprise that we are big merino wool fans. It’s considered one of the best-performing organic materials for quite a few reasons:
- Softness: Merino wool fibers are very fine and soft, making them comfortable to wear against the skin without any itching or irritation.
- Moisture management: Merino wool is naturally breathable and moisture-wicking, which means it can absorb and release moisture quickly, keeping you dry and comfortable in a wide range of temperatures.
- Insulation: Merino wool fibers have natural crimps that trap pockets of air, providing excellent insulation that keeps the wearer warm in cold weather. And even better, it helps to cool you when it’s too warm.
- Odor control: Merino wool has natural anti-bacterial properties that help to prevent odor build-up, even after extended wear. In other words - you smell less sweat.
- Sustainability: Merino wool is a renewable and biodegradable resource, and its production has a lower environmental impact than many synthetic materials.
Additionally, Merino wool is known for its durability and resistance to wrinkles, making it a long-lasting and low-maintenance material for clothing. All of these factors contribute to Merino wool's reputation as one of the best-performing organic materials for a wide range of outdoor and performance clothing.
If you wish to read more about our love for Merino Wool and why it’s such a good fit for activities like golf, go to this article.
So that’s it. We use organic merino wool but we go one step further and only use ZQ-certified wool. Yes, it might be slightly more expensive but we cut our margins quite a bit just to make it affordable enough to replace other materials we consider to be unsustainable and outright bad for all parties.