Earth Day 2021

Five sheep stand on a cliff overlooking the sea.

Sustainable choices

It’s Earth Day, when we stop to honor the planet on which we all live. Hopefully we are looking for ways to honor Earth every day of the year. One of the ways we can do that is by making sustainable, renewable choices about what we buy.

What makes a fiber “natural”?

The definition is simple; Natural fibers are produced by plants and animals without human intervention. Flax is a flowering plant that produces oil and also produces fibers that can be used for spinning and weaving linen. Cotton and hemp are two more natural plant fibers used in cloth production.

Sheep are thought to be the oldest living fiber-producing animals, but they are not alone. Goats (cashmere) and rabbits (angora) also naturally produce fibers used for spinning and weaving.

A mother sheep and lamb stand in the grass by a bay.

The case for wool

Wool is produced year-
round and worldwide by an estimated one billion sheep. All over the planet, these sturdy animals grow their wool crop from a simple diet of water, grass, and sunshine. A sheep produces a new fleece each year. It is shorn, and returned to pasture. This makes wool a completely renewable natural fiber.

What is wool made of?

Grass, water and sunshine, of course! But technically, wool is made of keratin, a protein produced by the hair follicles of all mammals. According to Wikipedia, “[Keratin] is the key structural material making up scales, hair, nails, feathers, horns, claws, hooves, calluses, and the outer layer of skin among vertebrates.”

The finest micron width of merino wool fiber is made of the same material as a horse’s hoof. Yes, that’s remarkable.

A sheep rests on a hillside.
Renewable Wool

Natural fibers are renewable; they grow and regrow on their own. Unlike synthetic fibers, which are usually made from petroleum, they renew themselves. As natural fibers, they also have life cycles, unlike synthetic materials. Wool’s lifecycle is a long one. Just ask the Pendleton customers who have inherited wool garments and blankets from their parents and grandparents.

Recyclable Wool

When the end finally does arrive for a wool garment or blanket, there is still plenty of use to be had, because wool is the most reusable and recyclable fiber on Earth. It can be recycled or upcycled as textiles for clothing, or broken down into padding for upholstery and carpets. Recycled wool is also used to insulate for sound and natural fire resistance.

The very end

When the recycling stage of wool’s life is over, wool biodegrades fully. In fact, our Pendleton Eco-Wise wool is so manufactured with such care, it qualifies as a biological nutrient at the end of its life cycle. So when you’re thinking about what to wear, think about the impact your choice will have on the planet…not just on Earth Day, but every day.

Two sheep with curly horns stand on a rocky slope against a bright sky.

All images via Pixabay.com

Celebrate Earth Day with the “Gift of the Earth” Blanket

Earth Day History

Sunday, April 22nd is Earth Day, 2018. It is a day to remember the beauty and fragility of the planet we call home.

The observance of Earth Day came from gathering national support for environmental issues. In 1970, San Francisco activist John McConnell and Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson both asked Americans to join in a grassroots demonstration in support of the planet.  Millions of people participated. Today, Earth Day is widely observed as a time to plant trees, clean up litter, and enjoy nature by getting out in it, through hiking, walking, gardening, or joining the many public observances held on April 22nd.

Gift of the Earth Blanket

This Earth Day, you can celebrate for a cause with theGIft of the Earth blanket:  Gift of the Earth

The Pendleton Gift of the Earth blanket for the College Fund.

Gift of the Earth features a bold design on a neutral backdrop is inspired by the traditional Hopi potters, who draw from generations of knowledge to create their beautiful, unique works of art. Their work, and this design, pay testament to the practice of learning from the past while moving into the future.

“Gift of the Earth” is part of a collection of blankets designed specifically for the American Indian College Fund, many of them designed by Native artists. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of College Fund blankets provides scholarships for Native students to attend tribal colleges and universities. The College Fund has been the nation’s largest philanthropic effort supporting Native American higher education for more than 25 years.

Learn More there: The College Fund

Shondina Lee styles a Gift of the Earth blanket wearing her family jewelry.

Photo courtesy of Shondian Lee:  Shondina Lee Yikasbaa

The weaving video

Watch the blanket take shape, from sheep to loom, in this video.

“Blessing Song” from the album Tribute to the Elders (CR-6318) by the Black Lodge Singers courtesy Canyon Records License 2017-023. All rights reserved.  www.CanyonRecords.com.

The future

The future depends on our careful stewardship of our planet. Those who come after us will live in the world we leave them. Let’s not let them down.

Photo of a wrapped newborn baby on a Gift of the Earth blanket, by @ryanchristopher929, used with permission

Photo by @ryanchristopher929, used with permission