Most Dutch sheep’s wool is burned at the stake and that must change

It is an organic, one hundred percent natural product, and yet approximately one and a half million kilos of Dutch sheep’s wool is burned at the stake every year. That’s what the Dutch Wool Collective says. The organization therefore advocates new applications so that sheep farmers, like Daphne, can dispose of their wool in a neat manner.

Herd of sheep The Cheerful Sheep in the dunes of Castricum aan Zee – Photo: NH Media

The production of wool is a secondary issue for most North Holland sheep farmers. Most sheep, including on Texel, are kept for meat and sometimes milk. Shearing the sheep is an annual ritual that is part of it. “To market that wool you have to do your very best and have very healthy sheep,” says sheep herder Daphne Hogeweg.

With her flock of 600 sheep, she maintains dunes and nature reserves along the North Holland coast. Daphne works with special sheep breeds that also supply special wool. The majority of this goes to artists, but for that she also needs the Dutch Wool Collective.

Photo: NH Media / Loïs Iglesias

There is hardly a good destination for the wool from average production sheep. Too sturdy and too scratchy for a sweater, but strangely enough also too expensive. The clothing industry prefers to buy wool in Australia from Merino sheep. Fortunately for Texel sheep farmers, they use sheep’s wool on the island to fill duvets. But there is still plenty left.

The Dutch Wool Collective wants to change this and stimulate the demand and application of sheep’s wool. Show what you can do with this raw material. For example, our own sheep wool can be used as an insulation material. And that is what three architecture students learned at the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences.

Creator Ruben van Amersfoort with his sheep’s wool beanbag – Photo: NH Media

The boys were impressed by the natural product and came up with a great use for the wool: a beanbag! And not filled with Styrofoam granules but with real Dutch sheep’s wool. An organic product, one hundred percent biodegradable, low CO₂ emissions and, above all, very resilient. A revival of the beanbag seems imminent.

For one beanbag you need the wool of three sheep, so that adds up nicely. But despite a wool surplus, the young entrepreneurs still have to pay for the sheepskins. Because ultimately the sheep farmers must get a fair price for the wool. It is a good example of the revaluation of Dutch wool.

Real natural wool from sheep – Photo: NH Media

Grab an Green

More and more North Hollanders are taking action to combat climate change. Residents are changing their lifestyle, buying responsibly and insulating their homes. Entrepreneurs see opportunities and break new ground with sustainable products and services. You can see it every Tuesday on TV in the Pak An Groen program.

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