ORGANIC WOOL AND BEYOND
In a meadow at 10,000 feet above sea level, in the foothills of the Indian Himalayas, a herd of 1,000 robust Gaddi sheep roam about. They graze on organic pastures, tested biannually to monitor the absence of pesticides. A frigid, clear mountain stream runs downhill. Peaks over 20,000 feet high loom above. Herders and dogs keep an eye on any stray sheep.
This herd lives in the Himachal Pradesh region of northern India, where 200,000 sheep wander throughout 40,000 hectares. The sheep are herded twice a year, when farmers shear them. The relationship is symbiotic. Domesticated sheep don’t lose their wool naturally, so they get haircuts that would otherwise become an overly burdensome coat, causing them to overheat and have their movement restricted. In a year, each sheep produces around two kilograms of wool, or about half a mattress worth.
Better still, we use wool certified to the Responsible Wool Standard (RWS). This gold standard recognizes the best practices of farmers, ensuring that our wool comes from farms that have a progressive approach to managing their land, practice holistic well-being of the sheep, and respect the Five Freedoms of Animal Welfare.
ORGANIC WOOL MATTRESSES
For exceptional comfort, we use the highest-functioning natural fiber — pure organic wool. Wool keeps sheep warm and dry through harsh mountain winters and cool during the warm summer months. It has to — a sheep’s survival is dependent on it.
Humans, too, rely on its powerful properties. We’ve used wool fiber for clothing for more than 10,000 years. No technology can outperform it — wool is still the preferred material for summer and winter outdoor adventurers. That’s because it’s warm (or cool) and breathable and stays dry. Gaddi sheep’s wool has fine, hollow fibers, so it’s particularly flexible and lightweight — and effective at transferring moisture from the body into the air. It’s those breathable fibers that make it naturally thermoregulating — keeping you insulated and warm when it’s cold and cool when it’s hot. Wool also provides a natural odor management and flame retardant. The fibers will singe and char, but are very difficult to ignite.
THE SHEEP AND THEIR SHEPHERDS
A WONDER FIBER
“Wool is a wonder fiber,” says George Mathew, our Vice President of Organics, Sustainability Standards, and Certifications. “It consists of protein together with a small percentage of lipid. It has a high specific thermal resistance, so it impedes heat transfer. It is crimpy and elastic and readily absorbs moisture. It self-extinguishes because of the high moisture and nitrogen content in the fibers. All these properties make wool as the most suited natural material for use in our best-selling organic mattresses.”
Wool’s unparalleled efficacy makes it the ideal material for mattresses. More importantly, it's renewable — our farmers sustainably and ethically harvest the fleece. That’s why we use GOTS-certified organic wool in our mattresses and toppers. (For those that don’t use animal byproducts, we also offer a vegan certified and PETA-approved hybrid mattress and a topper, which don’t use wool.)
Of course, the quality of wool we use is exceptional. With a 27-micron fiber diameter, it is classified as "very fine."
SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY IN PRACTICE
“We give our farmers the tools to succeed — we make sure they are taken care of financially, their children are going to school, and they have access to medical care,” says Mathew. “And because their welfare is supported, we’ve made a big social impact, and the farmers are loyal and treat the sheep really well. Basically, the whole ecosystem benefits when we do the right thing.” By working closely with these farmers, we are able to keep prices low and quality high for our customers. That’s the promise of our farm to mattress concept.
Not to mention our commitment to sustainability. As with all ranching, intensive sheep farming can lead to overgrazing and degradation of pastures, but our sheep, led by our goats, regularly move from pasture to pasture naturally, allowing the areas to fully recover from grazing herds.
THE WOMEN BEHIND OUR WOOL
LIVING OUR VALUES
“In line with our philosophy of organic, natural, sustainable, and ethical business practices, our wool factory is an embodiment of all these values,” says Rajeev Sharma, who founded and directs the co-owned wool factory in India. “Providing living wages to the workers, most of whom come from the marginalized sections of society, we offer them a life of dignity while processing the best quality of wool for our mattresses in a clean and beautiful factory using only GOTS compliant processes and materials. We care for our planet and all those living in our only home that we know — and that is what we are committed to.”
Most wool processors use acid and chemicals to clean their wool. We only use water and gentle GOTS approved agents. The process is simple. Our wool is cleaned, carded, and combed mechanically. GOTS requires the treatment of wastewater discharged from cleaning and other wool processing stages. For added assurance, our wool is also certified to Standard 100 by OEKO-TEX® standards (19.HIN.68466, Hohenstein HTTI).
THE NEEDLE PUNCH PROCESS
At our needle-punch wool factory, located a few hours south from where our wool is cleaned and combed, our wool arrives in large bales. Here, a series of large looms, each filled with up to 45,000 German steel punch needles, slowly separate the wool fibers. This is also a slow, mechanical process. The wool fibers are needled and intertwined as they move from loom to loom. We use this process to create two types of wool specifically for applications within our mattresses. A tightly compressed felt is used as a flame retarding layer (shown below), since wool chars rather than burns. And fluffy, uncompressed wool is used extensively across the top comfort layers of our mattresses and toppers to regulate temperature and add luxury.
That’s the guarantee of Avocado Green: Materials and products you can trust to meet high standards for sustainability, ethics, and quality.
ORGANIC TRADE ASSOCIATION SCREENS FOR:
No genetic engineering. All feed, forage, and bedding are organic. Sheep have year-round access to outdoors. No use of synthetic pesticides or hormones. No mulesing or tail docking practices. Don’t exceed carrying capacity of land.
RESPONSIBLE WOOL STANDARD SCREENS FOR:
Sheep have access to adequate nutrition and clean, safe drinking water. Land is not degraded by overgrazing and farmers protect biodiversity. Sheep have access to shade, shelter, wind breaks. Sheep receive routine welfare inspections. Soil erosion and compaction monitored and managed. Soil erosion and compaction monitored and managed. Mulesing is prohibited.
GLOBAL ORGANIC TEXTILE STANDARD SCREENS FOR:
All chemical inputs meet environmental/toxicological criteria No use of toxic heavy metals, formaldehyde, or GMOs. No chlorine or other chemical bleaching. Employees do not work excessive hours and have fair pay/safe conditions. Certification of the entire supply chain. Waste is minimized and wastewater is treated. Packaging material does not contain PVCs.