: from straw to gold: an ecological assessment of the lifecycle of wool from cradle to grave and beyond resulting in yarns composed of 100% post consumer waste

  • Joan Farrer

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


The objective of this research is to document the complex journey of wool from cradle to grave and beyond and to analyse the ethical and environmental cost of production from the farm to the knitwear factory, to retail and finally as post-consumer waste. The research findings make a contribution to the growing commercial and consumer in debate in this area.

Under the spotlight is wool growing including genetic and chemical manipulation and environmental degradation. Human exploitation at manufacturing sites, in some of the poorest countries of the world is discussed. Finally, the involvement of government, charitable and commercial institutions in the business of textile waste disposal which currently takes the form of landfill, incineration and Third World dumping is highlighted.

Experiments have been undertaken to produce a small range of knitwear yarns and garments composed of blends of wools, cotton, polyester, regenerated from 100% post consumer waste originally in the form of wool garments, jeans and drinking bottles.

This has involved an innovative collaboration with the local Authority, community groups, a national charity, a textile reclamation company, spinner and commercial knitter. The aim of the research both theoretical and practical is to demonstrate that there are practical ways to 'close the loop' and to flag up the need for design in the 21st Century to focus on post-consumer issues and the manufacture of aesthetic, commercially viable products made from non-virgin materials.
Date of Award2000
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Royal College of Art


  • Sustainability
  • Textiles
  • Wool
  • Ethical
  • Environmental
  • Waste
  • Consumerism
  • Materials
  • Design

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