From burial urns to surfboards – wool can be used to make just about anything

Ingun Grimstad Klepp, Lisbeth Løvbak Berg and Anna Schytte Sigaard.

OPINION: There’s no such thing as bad wool, only bad use.

In the Norwegian folk song Kråkevisa (The Crow Song), a man-made everything from a boat, to windows, to barrels of meat and fat from a bird he shot. There is a lot to learn from this – did you know that anything from burial urns, flowerpots, and surfboards to sanitary towels and diapers can be made from wool?

Wool can replace plastic

Poland is one of many EU countries where little or none of the wool produced is actually used. The Polish-Norwegian research project WOOLUME is working towards better utilisation of this resource, wool from Polish Mountain sheep. A new report from the project shows that anything from gardening products to insulation to personal hygiene products, as well as burial urns, coffins and surfboards are now being made of wool and has the potential to be made from the wool that is currently being thrown away in Poland and other EU countries, and that we call vacant wool. The products utilise the natural properties of wool, such as biodegradability, moisture absorbance, temperature regulation and nutritional content.

Several of these products, such as sanitary towels and diapers, are predominantly made of plastic. Microplastic pollution from the production, use and disposal of synthetic materials is a major environmental problem. According to the new national strategy on plastics, Norway alone emits an estimated 1017 tonnes of microplastics annually. Reducing the use of plastic we have little control over, such as in clothing and single-use products like sanitary towels and diapers, is therefore urgent. Wool is biodegradable and if not contaminated with toxic chemicals, wool products can be used as a fertilizer, for soil improvement or be composted after use.

Click here to read the full op-ed (