‘Wear Australian wool’: AWI launches free course promoting sustainability of Merino wool in fashion industry

Headshot of Shannon Verhagen
A Merino ewe with lambs in Kojonup.
Camera IconA Merino ewe with lambs in Kojonup. Credit: Shannon Verhagen/Countryman

The sustainability of Merino wool will be showcased in a new online course designed to educate the textile and fashion industry on the luxury fibre’s merit in achieving environmentally-friendly goals and leaving a “positive legacy”.

Australian Wool Innovation this month launched its six-module Sustainability and Wool course through the Woolmark Learning Centre, which is free for anyone to complete.

AWI’s Chief Executive John Roberts said the course — designed for designers, brands, manufacturers and tertiary students — was about getting the fashion industry to understand “just how good wool is”.

“At a time when many customers around the world are asking for more sustainable fashion the answer is clear — wear Australian wool,” he said.

“The more people who understand that wool is natural, biodegradable, and sustainable, the more wool will be sold and that helps Australian woolgrowers.”

With a focus on the wool fibre and wool industry, the course provides learners with the theory and practical examples of circular design, regenerative agriculture and manufacturing processes with reduced environmental impacts within the wool supply chain.

Industry heavyweights including NSW woolgrower and scientist Charles Massy, Vogue sustainability editor Clare Press, sustainable textiles expert Charles Ross, Everledger founder and chief executive Leanne Kemp, International Wool and Textiles Organisation expert advisor Dr Stephen Wiedemann and co-founder and creative director of creative agency Eco-Age Livia Firth all lend their insights to the course.

“This course explores the key issues and questions relating to sustainable development, legislation, collaborative global goals, and ways to measure and manage our impacts on people and planet,” Ms Firth said.

“As a global community we have the opportunity to change how we operate, to responsibly work within the planet’s boundaries, and to respect and protect the people throughout global supply chains.’’

The six modules include sustainable development theory, the circular economy, measuring and managing impacts of businesses in the textile industry and the benefits of using wool.

AWI general manager for processing innovation and education extension Julie Davies said the course offered solutions to creating products with a more positive legacy, and how designers and businesses could support consumers to reduce their environmental impact.

“With 80 per cent of the overall impact of a garment defined by the design stage, this course will equip designers and brands with access to information about how they can use wool to meet sustainable development targets and align to sustainability commitments,” she said.

Upon completion of the four-hour course, participants will receive an independent certification from Credly.

The course can be accessed at woolmarklearningcentre.com/program-library/sustainability-program/sustainability-and-wool/.

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