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Sustainable Fabrics to Keep You Warm This Winter

The temperature is dropping, but if like us you’re trying to keep the heating off for a bit longer, what are the best fabrics for keeping warm whilst being kind to the planet?

Responsibly Produced Wool

Wool is the obvious go-to when we’re looking for a warm natural fibre. It has a phenomenal ability to hold heat. Wool fibres have small pockets of air that circulate heat, and they contain keratin, a protein in animal hair that helps regulate body temperature. Wool can keep you warm even if it gets wet, because it can soak up as much as 30 percent of its own weight in moisture without feeling wet.

Although wool is biodegradable, depending on how it’s produced it may not be ethical. Find out how you can be sure your jumper is cruelty free here.

The downside of wool is that it can feel itchy next to your skin. Wool fibres have a scaly surface which can lead to irritation. Some types of wool like Merino and cashmere have soft fibres that are more comfortable to wear. 

Merino Wool

Merino sheep are native to Australia and New Zealand, and have softer, finer fleece than non-Merino breeds.

Merino fibres are very thin, only 17 microns thick - to put that in context a human hair is between 60 and 180 microns in thickness. It’s also hypoallergenic, so it won’t itch against the skin.

Cashmere

Cashmere is a soft fibre combed from the undercoats of goats found in the Himalayas, and it’s warmer than sheep or Merino wool. It’s lightweight, extremely soft and provides great insulation.

Unfortunately cashmere is expensive, as the wool can only be collected by hand once a year. Its scarcity makes it a premium product, ant it's also less durable than wool because of the fine, short fibres from which it is made.

Ethically Sourced Down

Down is the soft fluffy feathers that lie next to the skin of geese and ducks. Puffer jackets stuffed with down are super warm, but you should look out for down that is recycled, or ethically sourced. There have been concerns about the suffering that can go into the production of down, with birds being plucked whilst alive. Look out for the Responsible Down Standard (RDS), which ensures feathers are derived from geese and ducks raised in compliance with the principles of animal welfare.

Recycled Synthetics

In the depths of winter it’s tempting to reach for synthetic outerwear to stay warm and dry. These are essentially made from plastics, so not only are they not biodegradable, but they also release toxins during the production process.

Look out for outerwear made from recycled PET, which helps minimise the impact on the environment whilst reusing materials that have already been produced.