Brrr! It’s cold outside. Shouldn’t you put on a sweater? But before you go diving through your closet or driving to the mall looking for something woolly to wear, consider this: Do you really want to put on something that itches, smells (think musty mothballs and wet dog), and causes sheep pain, misery, and death? We didn’t think so.
After all, there’s suffering behind every wool sweater. In Australia, where much of the world’s wool originates, practices like ear-notching, tail-docking, castration, and “mulesing”—a gruesome procedure in which large chunks of skin and flesh are cut from lambs’ backsides—are all done without painkillers. Shearing is done quickly, with no regard for the animal, and often causes bloody wounds.
And when sheep are no longer useful for wool, they’re packed onto extremely crowded ships and sent to slaughter in the Middle East. Transported through all weather extremes, with little or no access to food or water, many become ill or injured or die. Those who survive are dragged to slaughterhouses, where their throats are slit while they are still conscious.
The good news? With all the amazing alternatives to wool available these days, it’s easier than ever to shed cruel woolen wear in favor of hip and humane fabrics like cotton, flannel, acrylic, polyester fleece, Gore-Tex, Polarguard, Polartec, and Thinsulate.
Check out PETA’s cruelty-free clothing guide for tips on the best vegan clothing items and where to find exactly what you’re looking for.