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Can You Trust the Wool You’re With? RWS Certification Offers Assurances

For knitters who fret about soil degradation or want guarantees that the wool yarn they’re sniffing comes from non-mulesed sheep, there’s a certification for that.

Leslie Petrovski Nov 7, 2023 - 11 min read

Can You Trust the Wool You’re With? RWS Certification Offers Assurances  Primary Image

The first farm group in the United States to receive RWS certification, Shaniko Wool Company also carries the Nativa-Regen certification. The group’s ranches are the first step in an audited, traceable supply chain. Photo courtesy of Shaniko Wool Company

Developed in response to public outcry surrounding graphic videos of animal cruelty captured by PETA in South America, the Texas-based Textile Exchange created the Responsible Wool Standard (RWS) to nudge ranchers worldwide toward more humane, better-for-the-environment practices and give brands a semaphore for mindful sourcing.

Developed over the course of years with the help of animal welfare organizations, farmers, brands and suppliers, the Responsible Wool Standard (RWS) is a rigorous global certification that requires growers to adhere to 270 criteria regarding animal welfare, land health and social responsibility while also mandating documentation and annual third-party, in-person audits.

“It’s not subject to greenwashing,” Mary Jeanne Packer of Battenkill Fibers said of her decision to develop a sock yarn sourced from RWS-certified American fiber. “There are a lot of other branding systems that are subjective. RWS is verifiable.”

Man in baseball cap, back to camera, with a flock of sheep moving uphill Theos Swallow Fork Ranch in Meeker, Colorado, is one of the family ranches that have become RWS-certified and joined Shaniko Wool Company. Photo courtesy of Shaniko Wool Company

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