Is wool biodegradeable? In a word, yes!
Wool is a natural fibre that has been used in clothing for more than 10,000 years, yet we don’t see it clogging up our oceans, washing up on our beaches or filling landfill sites like some of its synthetic counterparts.
This is because wool is made of keratin, the same protein found in human hair, which means that under the right conditions it biodegrades easily; the warmer and wetter the better.
In a study by AGResearch*, 10 woollen fabrics lost on average 95% of their weight over a 15-week period. Furthermore, tests have shown that given the right conditions wool will completely degrade after six months in the ground. This ability to degrade is one of wool’s most attractive properties, especially if you consider that in the UK alone it is estimated that 350,000 tonnes of used clothing are consigned to landfill every year and that synthetic fibres can take as long as 30 – 40 years to degrade, if at all.
If you are looking for ways to reduce you or your family’s impact on the earth, you could do a lot worse than to choose woollen goods, whether they are jumpers, sweaters, picnic rugs, blankets, carpets or whatever you’re looking for so long as it is made out of wool.
*AGResearch is a New Zealand agri research organisation