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Knit wits? Online retail giant Boohoo bans WOOL because PETA says its 'cruel to animals' - but campaigners say the boycott will harm sheep and be bad for the environment

Many fashion chains have long banned fur and exotic animal skins for ethical reasons.
But one leading online clothes retailer has taken things a step further – and halted its use of wool.
The move by Boohoo has shocked farmers who say shearing sheep should not involve any cruelty. And a campaign for wool backed by Prince Charles branded the action ‘absurd’.
In fact, removing fleeces is vital on welfare grounds to stop the animals from overheating and to protect them from insect infestations.

At the same time, wool is a natural, sustainable, source of yarn and clothing, unlike the plastic and polyester that is used for most of the cheap lines churned out by Boohoo, including dresses for as little as £3.
Currently, retailers – particularly fast fashion firms – are under pressure for fuelling the problem of plastic pollution by promoting throwaway clothing.
Boohoo’s decision follows pressure from campaigning vegan group PETA, which caused controversy in November after calling for the Dorset village of Wool to change its name as part of its campaign against what it claims is cruel sheep farming.

The group, which includes the brands Boohoo, BoohooMAN, PrettyLittleThing, and Nasty Gal, told PETA that as of autumn-winter 2019/20, ‘we will not knowingly source any wool products’.
A spokesman told the Mail that the change is being made on animal welfare grounds.
However, the National Sheep Association hit back. A spokesman said: ‘Wool is not a cruelly sourced product. In the vast majority of cases sheep are handled with care when being shorn, and are shorn for health and comfort reasons.
‘The sheep industry does not condone any behaviour that falls below the highest welfare standard for the sheep.’ Nicholas Coleridge, chairman of the Prince of Wales’ Campaign for Wool, added that PETA’s position opposing the use of wool was ‘absurd’ and ‘out of date’.
‘The reason the Prince of Wales is so passionate about the use of wool is that it is ecologically more sound than almost any other material,’ he said. ‘It is reusable and natural as well as making beautiful clothes.’
PETA claims the process of shearing can involve cruelty and rough handling of the animals. Since 2004, it has released 11 exposes of 99 sheep-shearing facilities on four continents, including in the UK, where it claims there is evidence of abuse. It also claims the wool industry causes damage to the environment because manure from livestock contributes to greenhouse gases.
Just yesterday, PETA supporters protested outside a London Fashion Week event against the use of wool. Activists carried signs proclaiming, ‘Wool Is as Cruel as Fur’.
Boohoo currently has some coats and jackets which contain a mix of real wool in the material. However, most of its range has already been given over to what it calls ‘wool-look’ products, which are made from a mixture of polyester and viscose.

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