LAST UPDATED: 26 July 2021
Working in the Australian fashion industry, Emma Hakansson found out there's more to wool (and other fabrics) than meets the eye. She set out to learn and share the truth about what the clothes we buy mean for the animals and people involved in their production. SPOILER: we already have the means to do all of this in a kinder and more sustainable way.
Her beautiful — and hopeful — short film 'Willow and Claude' is, as of July 26, available to watch online for free and can be viewed from anywhere in the world.
Willow and Claude were two of the lucky ones
Every year in Australia, the wool and meat industry accepts that millions of lambs die in their first hours of life, due to cold temperatures, predators and lack of shelter (which still isn't legally required for farmed animals).
Thankfully, Emma cared for Willow and Claude when they were orphaned and rescued, like these other lucky lambs.
Wool production isn't cosy
It comes as a shock to most Australians to learn that farmed animals like lambs and sheep in the wool industry are exempted from many of the cruelty laws that protect our companion animals like dogs and cats. This legalises treatment that could otherwise be prosecutable cruelty offences.
Sadly, it's routine and legal to perform invasive procedures on Australian lambs like castration, tail docking and mulesing without pain relief.
Mulesing is where young lambs have the skin around their buttocks and the base of their tail cut off with a pair of metal shears (to reduce soiling and the risk of flystrike). This painful practice called mulesing, has been banned in New Zealand for cruelty, but sadly is still legal in Australia, and in most states can be performed without any pain relief.
Thanks to tireless animal advocates speaking out, Victoria recently became the first and only state to require at least some pain relief for the procedure.
There are sustainable and kind alternatives to wool
Willow and Claude explores the work of Australian fibre farmers working on win-win solutions for the fabrics that we buy and wear.
As the film highlights, sustainably grown Australian cotton can be a positive option. Also choosing recycled products, avoiding 'fast fashion' where possible, re-using, swapping, purchasing preloved clothing items and caring for garments so they last longer are steps we can take to reduce the environmental and animal impact of our clothes.
Emma is also launching a run of sustainably produced and ethical plant-based knitwear.
You can create change for lambs in the Australian fashion industry
Like Emma caring for orphaned lambs Willow and Claude, you can save lambs by speaking out and shopping kindly.
Discover Collective Fashion Justice for more information on the power of kind fashion.
Take action: Demand pain relief for lambs and sheep
You can send an instant message to decision makers to urge them to bring an end to cruel procedures like mulesing, and make pain relief mandatory while they are being phased out.
We can also change the world for lambs by changing the way we eat
The systems that cause suffering to lambs and sheep – from wool and meat to live export – only exist because of consumer demand for the products these animals produce.
By using your power as a consumer and making the kindest choice, you can bring these animals back into our collective circle of compassion.