I am sure many of you have seen recently, going viral on social networks, the video of poor ram Baarack, rescued by some Edgar’s Mission volunteers in the state of Victoria, Australia, covered with 35 Kilos of wool because he got lost from his flock and was not shorn for five years. The video by Kodami is very sweet because it shows the poor animal submerged by his own wool and at the end nearly incapable of walking and eating.
The documentary explains that it took one hour to shear him (instead of a couple of minutes as it normally happens) and his facial expression at the end of the procedure is stunned: he looks like he can believe how light he feels, he nearly smiles (if a ram can smile) and he start jumping again on the grass after an endless time.
Why do we talk about Baarack in our newsletter this month? Because this story summarises perfectly the wool problem: we are breeding sheep everywhere in the world because we like their tender meat and we produce excellent cheeses with their milk. In the past we were also using their wool till the last staple to weave, to fill up our mattresses and pillows, to produce lanoline. Now the use of wool is getting near close to zero because synthetic fibres are much cheaper (but they are polluting our oceans) and because mattresses and cushions made in artificial materials are easier to manage and do not require maintenance (that probably nobody knows how to do it anymore here in Europe).
But every sheep generates at least 1,5 kilos of wool every year and we cannot leave it there as it happened to Baarack, the Australian ram. The wool issue is unavoidable: I know there are social and ecological problems which are much more important, but I believe that in this case we are facing a major challenge to our lifestyles and our capability of manage them and of accepting their consequences. We can’t continue to breed sheep (nearly 100 millions in Europe) and not know what to do with wool!
A lot of greasy wool is certainly exported mainly to China and India and then processed in these countries to be re-exported again in different forms.
Very little wool remains in the European country of origin for textile purposes, since we have less and less scouring plants and a lot of transports are required to complete the whole process.
But according to several estimates there is also an important percentage (more than 10%) that gets simply destroyed, or burned, or dispersed in the environment. And since we face every year the impressive figure of approximately 150 million kilos of wool (150.000 tons if am not mistaken) even “only” the 10% is a huge amount of waste that in good hands (like those of our members..) could become beautiful scarves, blankets, hats, of wonderful colours. Millions of hours of quiet and pleasant knitting, alone or in group.
We need to act!
For this reason we have decided to launch a “European Wool Day” and we have chosen the 9th of April because it was a “free date” and because in many countries it coincides with the shearing season.
The European Wool Day is an original initiative of the EWE Foundation, but totally open to anybody interested in the issue of European wool. Everybody can participate and organise events in her/his country. Participation is free!
Our secretariat will be extremely happy to receive ideas, proposal, photos, short videos. Just contact Mrs Isabella Kailidou at our headquarters in Cyprus writing to firstname.lastname@example.org
Friday 9 April: save the date in your calendar!
We will have two kinds of “studios”, one in Cyprus and one in Rome, open from 10.00 in the morning to 16.00 in the afternoon, presenting in streaming local reports, demonstrations, special procedures, knitting groups and at the same time we will be able to connect internationally to also exchange comments and information among our countries.
The official language of the First European Wool Day will be “International “English and it will be fantastic to “to greet each other from Iceland to Cyprus”.
Do not make commitments for the 9 of April! Organise an event in your local community and country, contact the EWE Foundation secretariat, and join the First European Wool Day!