anna brones

writer + artist + activist

Wool Sponges by Full Circle Wool

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At the end of last year, I bought a set of wool sponges from Marie Hoff (you can wash with wool, not just wear it!). I had met Marie while on a bicycle trip down the Pacific Coast two summers ago, and I have a lot of respect for all the work that she does. She herds Ouessant sheep, is an advocate of carbon farming, and last year she launched Full Circle Wool, selling climate beneficial wool and wool products.

I did a Q&A with her over on Food and Fibers Project and wanted to share a snippet here.

“We need to bring domestic processing and manufacturing back to the United States. We don’t have a diversity of industrial mills that do custom work anymore. There’s only one scouring mill in the country that will clean coarse wool on the commercial scale I need, and they are overloaded. In California alone, where I am based, we produce over 3 million pounds of wool every year. Every small scale mill that’s operating is overloaded, and we only process .03% of all that wool each year here in California. The majority of it goes overseas, and is washed with synthetic chemicals, often mixed with synthetic fibers, dyed with synthetic dyes based in coal tar, and then shipped back to the US for us to consume. About 20% of it just sits in people’s barns or goes directly into the landfill, as it can be more expensive to sell the wool than to raise it and leave it.

Especially for people who raise sheep on the coast, there’s very little incentive to sell the wool because the breeds of sheep that thrive on the coast produce coarse wool, which is lower value than fine wool, like merino. Even though their families have a tradition of appreciating wool, many just consider the wool to be a byproduct of raising meat. The lamb sales are their livelihood. In order to get ranchers a return that they can make a living on, and still produce a product that most people can afford, we need that critical link of a commercial-scale mill that can process wool locally, efficiently, and for not too high a cost. The more we can prove a demand for locally grown, locally processed, and natural fibers, the more demand there will be for milling, and the more likely investors and entrepreneurs will be in investing in that type of facility. We need more demand for, and support of, local agriculture and healthy land stewardship.”

That’s part of our longer conversation. Check out the full Q&A here.


Written by Anna Brones

February 26, 2018 at 13:28

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