The Woolmark Company has launched an anti-synthetic fiber campaign to raise awareness of the use of fossil fuels in textiles and promote wool as a natural, renewable alternative.
The adverts will go out across the US, UK, France and Australia for the month of September, including billboards in iconic locations Times Square, New York and Piccadilly Circus, London.
The campaign centres on a 60-second film showing three people struggling to swim through a pool filled with oil with a caption that reads “Every 25 seconds an Olympic-sized pool of oil is used to make synthetic clothing”. The statistic is taken from a 2017 Ellen MacArthur Foundation report. The models then peel off the oil to reveal wool outfits while walking through rolling green landscapes and a caption that reads “wool is 100% natural, 100% biodegradable and 100% renewable”.
The film is accompanied by additional digital outdoor advertising displays and a microsite.
Woolmark, a professional body that promotes and protects the interests of Australian merino wool including a certification scheme to ensure suppliers meet certain standards, says that 8 in 10 people don’t know that synthetic fabrics are derived from fossil fuels (the source of this statistic has not yet been verified).
Synthetics account for 1.35% of global oil consumption and are expected to increase from 60% of all fiber use to 73% by 2030, according to Changing Markets’ 2021 report ‘Fossil Fashion: the hidden reliance of fast fashion on fossil fuels’. Research from a 2019 paper from the journal Science of the Total Environment claims that synthetic fabrics, such as polyester, acrylic, rayon and spandex, are responsible for 35% of microplastics in our oceans.
John Roberts, managing director of the Woolmark Company, said: “Science shows that wool fibers biodegrade in both land and marine environments, so we know that Merino wool does not contribute to microplastic pollution. Studies also show that wool clothes are amongst the oldest in wardrobes, with high levels of reuse and donation, along with high levels of recycling and commercially viable end-of-life pathways. These factors alone indicate why choosing clothes made from natural fibers, such as Merino wool, are so important in transitioning to a circular, slow fashion model.”