How to recognise sustainable and cruelty-free wool: RWS certification

Wool is not always sustainable neither cruelty-free and sometimes shearing requires violent practices for the animals. Introducing RWS Certification
How to recognise sustainable and cruelty-free wool: Introducing RWS certification

Wool is a natural, durable fibre and easily recyclable. But it is not always sustainable and sometimes shearing requires violent practices for the animals.  

Wool garments can last in circulation for a relatively long time, even 20 to 30 years, which reduces their environmental footprint. One well-known hub for wool recycling is Prato, Italy. Where one of the best Italian brands for circular fashion and material regeneration was born. Read the article on Rifò here.

By choosing long-lasting, readily recyclable woollen garments we can reduce the quantity of textiles that go to waste. But when our woollen clothes are too worn out to wear, we can still reuse wool as a raw material by regenerating it.


There are three main ways in wool recycling:

1.The closed loop system:

A mechanical process that returns garments to the raw fibre state and turns the fibre into yarn again, to produce new products (particularly suitable for wool knitwear).

2.The open loop system:

The wool from a previous product becomes the basis for a new, usually industrial product such as insulation or mattress padding.


Getting creative, companies recycle old or unsold items into new products, like making a bag from an old woollen jacket, or using production waste such as trimmings to make other items. Very little wool goes to waste.


wool sustainable cruelty free

But how we source wool yarn and fabric?

But how do we source wool? This is the real question as to whether it is really produced in a sustainable way for the planet and for people and especially  animals.

Wool is an organic material derived from animals. This has given rise to a wool production industry in which sheep are bred for shearing and often violent practices are used that harm the animals.

And I would like to specify that sheep do not necessarily have to be sheared to be healthy, we are not doing them a favour. Because if man were not on the planet, they would live well and quietly even without the need to be sheared. 

First and foremost is Mulesing. Mulesing is a surgical practice still widely used. It is used on sheep farms and consists of removing part of the skin from the perianal area of the animals so that the wool is always clean. This practice is done almost exclusively without anaesthesia, without sutures and without antibiotic therapy, and produces suffering for the animals.

Sustainable wool cruelty free

The RWS Responsible Wool Standard was created to prevent this practice and promote animal welfare, preserving land and soil heath, maintaining its biodiversity and protecting social welfare for workers’ health.

The Responsible Wool Standard is a voluntary standard that addresses the welfare of sheep and the land they graze on. This certification is promoted by the Textile Exchange and has the following objectives:

1. Provide the industry with a tool to recognise the best practices of farmers.

2. Ensure that wool comes from farms that have a progressive approach to managing their land, practice holistic respect for the animal welfare of sheep and respect the Five Freedoms of animal welfare.

3. Ensure a strong chain of custody for certified materials as they move through the supply chain.

Responsible wool standard
responsible wool standard
Credits Textile Exchange

What can we do?

– buy regenerated wool or used clothes

– buy RWS-certified wool

– buy less