A few weeks ago, Prince Charles launched a campaign called The Wool Project to support the British wool industry. Wool, that wonderful, natural fabric, that has so many uses from clothing to carpeting, is facing some severe competition from its artificial counterparts nylon and polyester. His website notes that the price of wool has dropped by almost a third since 1997. So, it’s time to get fashionable again and start paying more attention to that eco-friendly and old-fashioned material: wool.

If we look at the properties of wool itself, wool has a lot of qualities that are considered “green.” Wool is:

  • 100% renewable
  • biodegradable
  • durable (high-quality wool carpets can last 40 years and longer)
  • recyclable
  • an insulator against noise and heat loss
  • an allergen-friendly material
  • mould resistant
  • lower energy intensive production than synthetic fibers such as nylon and polyester.

Searching out high-quality wool carpets: Earthweave had already pointed out to me that the “Wools from New Zealand” trademark represented high-quality wool carpets, I have to admit, not knowing a lot about wool, I thought wool was wool was wool.

I happened to mention this quite ignorant statement to James MacLean, who, as it happens, comes from a long line of New Zealand sheep shearers. He looked at me and said, “That’s like saying a car is a car. Would you put a Porsche in the same category as a Toyota Echo?” Fair point. And I should have seen it that way. I mean, how many times have I been to the Royal Winter Fair and seen Holsteins and Jersey cows and knew that different breeds provide different foods? It’s the same with sheep. Some are excellent for meat and others for their wool. But, in addition to that, some breeds, such as the Merino sheep produce excellent wool for apparel, and others, such as the Romney and Corriedale breeds produce excellent wool for carpets and upholstery. And, as it turns out, sheep raised in  New Zealand produce some of the finest wool in the world, and wool is one of the original green materials.

New Zealand is the second largest exporter of wool in the world behind Australia. Most of New Zealand’s wool is used for the interior furnishings market with carpet wool making up over 60% of its use.

Brands using Wools of New Zealand trademark tend to be in the upper scale in terms of pricing. However, when you consider how long a wool carpet will last (40 years or more in light to medium trafficked areas) versus synthetic carpets, wool carpets are an excellent investment.

Note: if you read the fine print of the Wools of New Zealand trademark: a carpet may carry that trademark if 80% or more of the carpet is wool (20% can be other fibres, such as nylon or other wool fibres), and 60% of the wool is from New Zealand. So if you’re looking for 100% wool, make sure you ask for it specifically.

Laneve Brand of New Zealand Wools: Perhaps in reaction to consumer demand for more traceable materials, Wools of New Zealand has a superior designated brand called Laneve. From its website:

Laneve branded carpets and rugs are made from 100 percent wool traceable back to identifiable farmers who meet a comprehensive range of environmental, social responsibility and animal welfare standards.

In addition to traceable wool, in order to use this trademark a farmer must practice traditional, low intensive farming techniques, allowing sheep free range and practice farming methods that protect local land and water.

Laneve is a relatively new line of carpets. For participating mills, click here.

Tip: according to Lily at eFloor, Godfrey Hirst carpets are of excellent quality, use “Wools of New Zealand,” are widely available and reasonably priced. They also use natural jute backings instead of synthetic backings. Godfrey Hirst carpets range in price from $6.50 to $16.50/sq. foot.

Other prominent producers of carpets using the “Wools of New Zealand” Brand are:

Natural Carpet Company

Nourison Industries


Prestige Mills

Stanton Carpet

Kane Carpet

Silver Creek Carpet

Carpets from these mills usually range in price from $12-19/sq. foot. For more mills, visit the Wools of New Zealand website.

According to the website below is a list of retailers in Toronto:

Bronte Carpet Works 2347 Lakeshore Rd. W., Oakville (905) 825-3670
Conquest Carpets 4965 Steeles Avenue W. North York 416 745-8518
Dominion Rug 3420 Yonge Street Toronto 416 485-9488
Elte Carpets & Home 80 Ronald Avenue Toronto 416 785-4774
FloorWorks 365 Dupont Street Toronto 416 961-6891
Magnum Opus Carpets 20-665 Millway Avenue Concord 905 738-7295
Orlean Carpet 1449 Youville Drive Orleans 613 837-9373
Reliable Carpet & Paint 772 Dundas Street West Toronto 416 603-8952
Tappatec, Inc. 600 Orwell Street, Unit 17 Mississauga 905 279-8882
Trust Flooring Group 4965 Steeles Avenue West North York 416 745-8518
BEC Green

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