Wool is a popular material for comforters and duvet inserts, and for good reason. There are some downsides to wool, though, especially if it’s not sustainably sourced. Here’s an in-depth look at the pros and cons of organic wool duvets and their overall environmental impact.
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- Moisture-wicking and moisture resistant
- Naturally flame-resistant
- Resistant to mold, mildew, and dust mites
- Durable, recyclable, and biodegradable
- Can be very cozy and insulating
- Adds weight without bulk
- Can be heavy
- Loses loft and flattens quickly
- Can be expensive, especially if well certified
- Not vegan
- May be made using toxic chemical processes
- Not always machine washable
- Can smell woolly
- Doesn’t drape like fluffier, lighter duvets
Wool duvets – Benefits
Wool naturally wicks moisture away from your skin and is breathable, so wool duvets are excellent for maintaining a constant temperature even if you’re a hot and sweaty sleeper. An organic wool duvet will help you stay cool on summer nights while keeping you warm and cozy in winter.
I’ve only slept under a wool duvet once and I loved it (please don’t take away my vegan card). I really like the weight of wool and that it feels quite a bit stiffer than down, kapok, or synthetic duvets. This means it drapes over your body more like a blanket than a duvet.
I’m not a fan of very fluffy, lofty duvets and find all the bulk of down rather fussy. I’ve also noticed that lighter, loftier down duvets and even very fluffy polyester duvets tend to move more easily, which means they vanish across the bed if you have a sleep partner who loves to be cozy.
With wool, the weight helps to keep the duvet in place, so everyone stays warm (but not too hot).
The downsides of wool duvets
Aside from obviously not being vegan, the biggest downsides of wool duvets are:
- The expense
- Loss of loft (they compress very easily)
- Potential for moths to eat them in storage!
In addition, not all ‘organic’ wool duvets are made with genuinely organic wool or in a sustainable way.
Certifications I look for in duvets
I strongly favor credible organic certifications for wool. Many companies like to market their products as an ‘organic wool duvet’ when the wool isn’t certified. This wool could come from sheep farms that don’t properly care for their flock. In addition, this wool has very likely has been treated with:
- Harsh detergents
- Carbonic acid
- Moth proofing chemicals
- Other chemicals of concern.
For peace of mind, look for the USDA Organic, GOTS, or kbT seals on the duvet itself.
As well as considering animal cruelty and chemical use, it’s worth thinking too about the use of land to graze sheep. Where sheep are put out to graze on land that could otherwise be used for growing food, this can contribute to desertification, greater carbon and methane emissions, and disruption of local food economies.
However, some land isn’t suitable for growing food crops or other crops and can actually be brought back into use through sustainable, regenerative grazing by animals such as sheep. Figuring out the where and how of flock management may sway your decision over which company to give your money for a wool duvet.
Summer vs. winter wool duvets
For a summer weight duvet, look for a 500 gsm (grams per square meter). A winter weight wool duvet (around 800 gsm) performs similarly to a regular weight down duvet.
The quality of the wool and its insulating abilities and loft depend significantly on how it was processed, though. With better quality wool you may find that a lower fill weight is sufficient to stay cozy all year round.
The average sheep yields about 10 lbs. of wool each year. Once cleaned and carded, that amounts to around 5 lbs. of usable wool. This means that for a duvet containing around 5 lbs. of sheep’s wool, you’ll need one sheep’s worth of labor for a year.
From an animal cruelty perspective, a wool comforter or duvet is far better than one made with down. After all, sheep benefit from being safely sheared (usually twice a year) to keep them healthy and happy. In contrast, the geese and ducks used for down tend to have miserable lives that are cut short in a horrific way. And it can take around 40-70 birds to produce enough down or feathers for a duvet.
A down duvet typically weighs a third of the weight of a silk duvet or half the weight of a wool duvet. This assumes the duvets are the same size and have similar warmth levels.