Australian-owned menswear brand, M.J. Bale, has begun a work partnership with a Tasmanian farm and seaweed producer in an aim to produce the world's first net zero-emission woollen knitwear.
A boat with carbon-neutral wool is on its way to Riversdale Mill in Geelong after setting sail from Hobart's Constitution Dock but prior to taking its sea trip, the wool took a journey on the Tasmanian lands without a truck engine in sight.
In an innovative trial, a carbon positive-accredited Tasmanian wool growing farm, Kingston Superfine, utilsed eco-friendly seaweed called asparagopsis.
As part of a trial, the farm's 18-month-old Kingston Merino ewes were fed a dietary supplement made from asparagopsis seaweed, also grown sustainably in Tasmania by producer, Sea Forest.
The seaweed had dramatically reduced the methane emissions from Kingston's sheep.
In 2021 Kingston produced 105 kilograms of carbon neutral wool from 48 of its sheep in the Sea Forest trial.
Around 35kg of that wool was sent on the 200 kilometres journey by bicycle to Hobart by cyclist Grant Maddock.
Mr Maddock said it was essential to have wool producers and the industry as a whole look towards sustainability.
"I have spent my life dedicated to identifying solutions to our environmental problems and have followed the M.J. Bale story with great interest as the company is at the forefront of the fashion industry in combating climate change," Mr Maddock said.
"Partnerships with industry are key to us healing the environment and I am proud to be part of the solution being put forward by M.J. Bale, Sea Forest and Kingston", he added.
The remaining Kingston zero-emission wool grown from the Sea Forest seaweed will be shipped to weavers in Biella, Italy - Vitale Barberis Canonico,
They are one of Europe's oldest and most sustainable weavers, they will weave Super 150s worsted cloth to be made into 250 limited edition blazers in Japan.
The move to sustainability is a growing trend aligning with other clothing brands and outlets across the country.
Australian Wool Innovation (AWI) subsidiary The Woolmark Company recently partnered up with clothing store Sportscraft to create a collection of Australian wool garments which have used the sustainable practices of wool growers Michael and Margaret Reynolds, Adelong NSW.
The property, called Westside uses sustainable farming systems including tree planting, pasture renovations, and waterway regeneration.
AWI chief executive John Roberts said the traceability and sustainable nature of the product is a sign of where the industry is heading.
"This collection is a great way to further showcase the sustainability and eco-credentials of Australian wool which is one of a major selling point," Mr Roberts said.
M.J. Bale chief executive Matt Jensen, said the new zero-emission products "is a major step forward for the global fashion industry".
"This journey is also intent on revitalizing the Australian wool processing and manufacturing industry, seeing whether we can create a supply chain for our products entirely in Australia."
"We expect to be selling zero-emission clothing through our 70 stores across Australia, the majority of which are already green-energy powered, and we have now offset our entire carbon footprint", he added.
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