My wife is wondering about the best method for composting natural fabrics when they have finally gone beyond their useful life?
Are there concerns about dyes, or if there may be residues from mordanting processes, or if it is commercially made fabric and dyes are unknown?
What are the best conditions for getting it to break down? Worms? Moisture level?
What about sheep fleece? I've mulched plants with it and it seems to never break down (and gets caught in any mower or weed whip) Our previous tenant sheared their sheep every year, but then put all the bags of wool under one of the sheds as insulation or to block animals from getting under- I need to get rid of it, plastic bags dont break down (at least not in any way I respect) and the wool is growing moss or is just clotted together. It's not even useful for bird nests (and we have plenty of fresh wool for them)
Lee Reich (who has quibbles with permaculture but is generally sympathetic) says he composts all his natural fiber clothing. He does a hot compost (which seems to be far more efficient than mine) and says they break down in a few months. As far as residues, if you've washed the fabric several times as part of its lifecycle, there shouldn't be anything leachable left IMO.
I'm using old cotton and silk fabrics as a cardboard replacement in kill mulch, but just started so have no results yet.
The wool sounds like it should be a great resource. Hmm. I know that Paris market gardeners made mats to protect their plants during cold weather. Perhaps you could sew up essentially thin mattress covers for that purpose (and/or as a temporary movable kill mulch) if you're doing serious season extension? Then the loose wool wouldn't get caught in tools. Or you could felt it into mats for the same idea...
posted 3 years ago
Yes, thinking of other ways to use "waste wool" and I think a sheet felting process would be good. Time to DIY a prototype felted and try it out.
Jared, wool contains Lanolin, a natural substance that makes it water resistant which will need to be removed before the wool will deteriorate, this can be done by washing.
Morfydd gave some great ideas of ways to use all that wool too.