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Every country has natural resources and raw materials that the whole world wants to get their hands on. Australia has its mined materials, Saudi Arabia boasts 20 percent of the world’s oil reserves, and China has the most natural resources out of any other country.
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Even little ol’ New Zealand, here at the bottom of the world, has something that we’re particularly proud of and can’t wait to share with everyone, and that’s pure merino wool.
While merino wool clothing is enjoyed and widely used throughout various industries, it’s not only the woolly hats, gloves, and sweaters that are causing countries to do business with us.
Our woolly critters dotted throughout the greenest pastures of New Zealand are getting lots of extra attention for a range of other reasons as well. Read on to learn why wool is a raw material that the world can’t get enough of.
Sustainable living and reducing our carbon footprint has been at the forefront of many people’s minds in recent years. We’ve taken huge steps by banning single-use plastic bags and encouraging reusable coffee mugs at our local cafes. But what’s being done in the way of clothing? When you buy wool clothing, there’s no need to panic.
Polyester fabric might take between 20 and 200 years to biodegrade, and nylon up to 40 years, but wool will be back ‘at one’ with nature in a few months. What’s more, while it’s decomposing, it’s releasing plenty of delicious nutrients into the soil at the same time. You can safely throw it in your garden and let it work its magic.
Think an iron beam is strong? What about your favorite pair of cotton socks that seem to last the distance? Well, wool is stronger. Wool is naturally flame resistant and doesn’t let off any toxic fumes, either.
It will fight the encroaching flames up to around 600 degrees Celsius, which is nearly the minimum temperature of lava. You could almost say that your favourite wool sweater is lava-resistant! Regarding its strength, though, wool is a game-changer. While cotton fibres bend around 3,000 times before they break, it takes about 20,000 bends for a wool fibre to do the same.
It Cleans the Air
Air quality is always a huge problem, even in New Zealand, where we call ourselves clean, green, and 100% pure. Fortunately, our sheep are doing their part. Wool is made up of 50% organic carbon, which means it forms part of the carbon cycle. What does that mean? One kilogram of wool is the equivalent of 1.8 kilograms less carbon dioxide. Thanks, sheep, all 60 million of you!
It’s Used in Some Strange Places
Wool is used in some of the most beautiful garments. It also features in our hats, gloves, socks, blankets, rugs, and a whole host of other things we wear and use around the home. But, would you ever have thought that it would appear in building materials, natural disasters, and gardens? Our wool is made of tough stuff.
It works as organic mulch for the avid gardener and has even been made into sustainable bricks with seaweed extract. A world of sustainable building materials might be closer than we first thought.
What’s more, it played a massive part in the clean up of oil spills, such as the 2010 BP Gulf of Mexico spill, given its ability to retain up to 40 times its own weight.
But wool doesn’t just help with major environmental disasters and building sustainable homes. Its moisture-buffering properties and how it can regulate temperatures have meant it’s proved its worth with medication, too. That doesn’t mean people are eating it, but it does mean people can receive their medications packed in it, for it can keep sensitive medicines at a consistent temperature in transit.
Speaking of transit, did you know wool has been to space? Both NASA and Lanoco have tested New Zealand wool in Orion’s emergency life support system filters for cabin air systems and equipment.
We’ve Got the Good Stuff
Kiwis are a resourceful bunch. We’ve got DIY in our DNA and will throw our hand to anything to get the job done. But we’ve also got something quite special – a unique material that grows on our farm animals and is a winning recipe in a line of industries.
Whether you enjoy sinking your feet into a luxurious wool rug, wearing a merino wool sweater on the farm, or wrapping your loved ones in merino wool blankets, know that you’ve got some of New Zealand’s most beautiful materials. They are truly one of the best things we have to offer.