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Woolmark highlights impact of synthetic fibres in new global campaign

By Huw Hughes

6 Sept 2022

Fashion

Image: The Woolmark Company

The Woolmark Company has launched a new campaign looking to educate consumers about the environmental impact of synthetic fibres off the back of new research from the company.

The campaign, called ‘Wear Wool, Not Fossil Fuel’, uses provocative imagery to visualise the relationship between synthetic-based garments and the crude oil used to manufacture them, while promoting natural fibres in their stead.

The Woolmark Company is an organisation that works alongside Australia’s 60,000 woolgrowers to research, develop and certify Australian wool.

In one image from the new campaign, a juxtaposition is drawn between two sides of a model, one of which is wearing a woollen sweater against a picturesque backdrop of blues skies and rolling green hills, while the other half is covered in jet-black oil, with the background dark and gloomy as if a storm were rolling in.

In a 60-second video, a group of people struggle to get out of an oil-filled swimming pool, which Woolmark said was a nod to an insight that every 25 minutes an Olympic pool’s worth of crude oil is used to produce synthetic clothing, amounting to almost 350 million barrels per year.

While more than one third of global consumers say they are willing to pay more for sustainability, “fibre consideration” does not feature in the purchase journey at all, according to Woolmark's research.

Its research also highlighted that eight in 10 people still don't know that synthetics are derived from fossil fuels, which its campaign aims to address.

While synthetic materials currently represent 65 percent of all fibre use, that number is expected to increase to 73 percent by 2030, said Woolmark managing director John Roberts.

“The impact these clothes have during the use and end of life stages of their lifetime cannot be underestimated. In fact, it’s been said that the equivalent of 50 billion plastic bottles’ worth of microfibres enter wastewater every year just from washing,” Roberts said.

“Science shows that wool fibres biodegrade in both land and marine environments, so we know that Merino wool does not contribute to microplastic pollution,” he added.

Woolmark’s new campaign is tailored for film and out-of-home (OOH) advertising, with initial activity scheduled in the US, UK, France, and Australia in September.

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