John Lewis is launching a new range of mattresses in partnership with suppliers Hypnos, H.Dawson, and Dalehead. For the first time, the mattresses will be manufactured using wool provided by Waitrose sheep farmers and the goal is to reduce waste, assist farmers, and re-establish wool as a popular and widely used commodity.
Wool has been under-utilized in the UK for decades, which was once a highly valued commodity there, with the price provided not even covering the cost of shearing, let alone transportation. For decades, this has resulted in the loss of hundreds of thousands of tonnes of high-quality British wool, with farmers being forced to burn or bury it after shearing.
The issue is not well-known among British consumers, with two-thirds (66%) stating they were unaware that farmers were forced to burn their wool. But, demonstrating their concern, moreover half (52%) said they would be willing to pay more for items made with British wool, with 41% saying they would pay between 5-10% more and a third saying they would spend as much as 20% more.
By partnering with Waitrose’s long-serving sheep farmers, the highly sustainable and natural fiber will now be put to good use once more, in a move the John Lewis Partnership hopes will raise awareness of the issue, drive demand for British wool, and thus raise its value for the benefit of sheep farmers across the UK.
Jake Pickering, senior agricultural manager at Waitrose, said that wool used to sustain entire economies, but its value has plummeted to the point that British farmers are being forced to abandon it. Because they’re in the unique position of owning a partnership that manages both a supermarket and a home department store, they recognized an opportunity to help their farmers and the environment by ensuring that the high-quality wool they produce is not thrown away. They believe that by doing so, they will raise awareness about the problem and restore British wool to its former standing as a highly valued and high-quality British commodity.
Patrick Loxdale, one of the farmers engaged in the initiative, said that the wool market has been challenging for a long time, and now, with shipments to China suspended because of the pandemic, it's considerably tougher. This effort, in his opinion, will help to rekindle interest in British wool. They've been farming in Aberystwyth for 250 years, and if they have anything to say about it, they'll continue to do so for another 250.”
Richard Naylor, Hypnos' sustainable development director, said that as well as making comfortable beds, it's becoming increasingly important to the public that the products they buy are not only economically sustainable, but also socially and environmentally sustainable, and wool checks all of these boxes. Wool is natural, renewable, and totally biodegradable, making it excellent for the environment. It is also incredibly comfortable due to its temperature regulating and breathable characteristics, allowing individuals to sleep better for a variety of reasons.
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