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Beyond the Bale : June 2011
June 2011 BEYOND THE BALE 4 OFF-FARM THE CAMPAIGN FOR WOOL It is worth remembering that, for hundreds of years, wool was one of the most important commodities in the world. National economies were built on the back of the trade in this remarkable fibre. It was used to clothe us and to provide rugs and carpets and other fur nishings for our homes. Unfortunately, today, the story is very different. Wool has been replaced by man- made fibres and, sadly, prices have been falling for wool-growers around the world. I have fond memories of spending time on various sheep stations when I was lucky enough to live in Australia for six months -- over forty years ago now -- and being able to see for myself just how important wool is to so much of this vast country. I could not have been more depressed, therefore, when I saw the price far mers were being paid for their wool had dropped to such low levels that many were leaving farming, and the numbers of sheep were falling dramatically. The ultimate insanity was when I lear nt that a new breed of sheep had been developed which doesn't need shearing -- called, can you believe it, "Easy Care"! Deter mined to do something about this, and to restore wool to its rightful place in the scheme of things, I convened a meeting with representatives of wool- growing organisations from around the world, along with fashion designers, interior designers, carpet manufacturers and, importantly, retailers. It was clear that everyone realised that wool was a remarkably versatile, renewable, natural product, but that consumers had completely forgotten its benefits. The result of the meeting is the Campaign for Wool, which I am delighted to say is backed by all the major trade by HRH The Prince of Wales organisations including, importantly, Australian Wool Innovation. Along with the British Wool Marketing Board, the Inter national Wool Textile Organization, Woolmark Inter national, the New Zealand Wool Growers and Viking Wools of Norway, and many other companies and organisations, the Campaign for Wool is the largest coalition in recent history which is helping to help raise awareness amongst consumers about wool's unique properties -- which are, when you actually look at them, pretty amazing. Whether it is the clothes you choose to wear or the products which fur nish your home, it is clear Nature has the edge on the man-made competition. For example -- and most importantly -- wool is naturally flame- retardant, to some 600 degrees, and can meet even the most stringent safety rules without the need for additional chemical treatments -- something to consider when you are buying, say, clothes for your children. Wool has the most excellent natural handling properties -- its renowned drape is due to the fineness of the fibres as well as its natural elasticity and resilience. Wool has a structure which allows it to absorb and release perspiration naturally, whether that is in clothes or in the home. It is able to acclimatise to individual environments, which means that a wool sweater will ensure you are never too hot or too cold. And -- perhaps most surprisingly -- the evidence shows that if you use wool duvets or blankets then you are more likely to get a good night's sleep. There are, of course, many more reasons to use wool, and a large number of these are listed on the Campaign's web site at www.campaignforwool.org. But we mustn't forget that one of the main benefits of wool is its impact on our environment. More and more people now want to know how they can leave a lighter footprint on the planet. By choosing wool you can do just that -- and benefit from the most superior product from some of the most hard-working far mers in the world. More infor mation: View a video message for Australian audiences from HRH The Prince of Wales (recorded at St James's Palace, London on 23 March 2011) on the Woolmark channel on YouTube at www.youtube.com/woolmarkonline www.campaignforwool.org