Although Spring is here, the chilly temps persist, especially during our morning walks. One of the most difficult aspects of living a vegan, cruelty-free lifestyle is finding warm vegan clothing and accessories that aren’t made of wool, alpaca, or cashmere.

As I’m vegan for ethical reasons as well as for the environment, I avoid buying synthetic fibers— especially new polyesters which are made from plastics. There’s a material on the market that may be a solution for eco-conscious animal activist shoppers — Seawool. Here’s everything you need to know about the vegan wool alternative.

The high-quality breathable “wool” is made of crushed oyster shell composites and recycled polyester. While oyster shells are a byproduct of a living animal some vegans, known as ostrovegans do consume oysters. Oysters are non-sentient, meaning they don’t have a central nervous system, which is necessary to feel pain.

When someone shoots oysters at a raw bar, the shells usually go straight into the garbage and head to landfills. In Taiwan, at least 160,000,000 kilograms of oyster shells, a dynamic, valuable biomaterial, are discarded each year.

Fortunately, the Creative Tech Textile team that created Seawool yarn conceptualized a way to upcycle oyster shells into a durable and warm fabric. They’ve rescued oyster shells from the food industry to repurpose into Seawool. The fiber is the result of a decade of testing by the Industrial Technology Research Institute.

The environmentally-conscious textile is a game-changer for the fashion industry that’s striving to go green. It’s made from recycled PET plastic bottles that have been scavenged from oceans and then ground into a powder. It takes 60 recycled post-consumer plastic bottles to create a kilogram of Seawool. The recycled PET (rPET) powder is then mixed with the surplus oyster shell composites. The entire process is more sustainably sound than that of wool sweaters and leaves a smaller carbon footprint. A sweater contains about five oyster shells and eight post-consumer water bottles.

I tested Seawool in the freezing temperatures of Antarctica

I’ve been testing out a Seawool mocha-hued turtleneck sweater and gray hat from Frank and Oak for the last three weeks in Antarctica. I’m cruising around the southernmost continent— my seventh and final to visit — with the sustainably-minded Hurtigruten Expeditions on the company’s 18-day Antarctica voyage on the battery-hybrid MS Roald Amundsen ship. Which, has also served excellent vegan food including gnocchi in sage sauce, Flowfood burgers, and vegan milkshakes. The temperatures have dropped below zero degrees Celsius on multiple occasions and my Seawool has kept me warm and cozy.

To the touch, Seawool is warm and fuzzy, much like wool from land animals. In fact, it’s said to have 99 percent comparability to wool. The fabric is insulating, helping to lock in heat on frigid days. It’s also wrinkle-resistant which is excellent when packing for cold-weather destinations such as Antarctica. The White Continent, as expected, has been very wet — with constant drizzle, snow, sleet, and hail. Without fail, my Seawool pieces always dry before my other gear. They’re quick, dry, and antistatic.

The revolutionary fiber is also utilized in winter weather clothing and accessories sold by Coster Copenhagen, Mountain Khakis, and Huckberry. Seawool can also be used for winter-weather bedding.

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