Wool ‘amazing’, pupils hear

Ahead of the flock . . . Six to 8›year›old Clinton Primary School pupils learn in the mobile woolshed of the Wool in Schools programme. PHOTO: NICK BROOK

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Wool in Schools’ woolshed containers are playing a key role in the comeback of the wool market by educating young people on the advantages of the naturally high›quality product.

The Campaign for Wool’s travelling containers have hosted over 25,000 school children including pupils from Clinton Primary School in an interactive, half›hour experience explaining wool’s place in humanity’s past, present and future.

‘‘In the 1960s about 80% of carpets sold in New Zealand were wool,’’ chairman of the Campaign for Wool Tom O’Sullivan said.

‘‘Unfortunately the wool industry rested on its laurels while the petro› plastic industry worked fast with cheaper alternatives, and in 2019 the cost of shearing at my own family’s fifth›generation farm was more than the income from the wool.’’

He said a growing awareness of the problems with plastics was motivating successive generations to look for natural, sustainable alternatives, and the wool sector was now working smart and fast to raise awareness that its fibre was perfectly suited to modern and future considerations.

‘‘The innovation is here and we’re encouraging and publicising it.

‘‘Everybody knows wool is durable and warm. We want them to know its properties are available as building insulation, upholstery fabric, wall hangings, bedding material and fill, as well as clothing and carpet,’’ Mr O’Sullivan said.

Plenty of Clinton School’s rural pupils lived on sheep farms and thought they knew sheep inside out, but they were interested to learn about the grades and processes that made wool useful for so many things from heavy felt, to covering tennis balls.

‘‘We need to teach our children about this amazing product. Wool is natural, renewable, biodegradable, a fire retardant and insulator with good moisture properties.

‘‘It is so much better for our planet than plastic,’’ Clinton School teacher Lisa Anderson said.

The Wool in Schools initiative spends a week or two with each school during term time,

It was ‘‘an early step in a growing movement to educate environmentally aware generations of the future benefits of a super fibre New Zealand could lead the world in,’’ Mr O’Sullivan said.