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Byron Shire
February 3, 2023

A little luck, hemp, and drive leads to sustainable outcome for Dunoon Primary

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Dunoon Primary School has led the way in sourcing sustainable uniforms. Photo supplied.

Heading to the P&C meeting with the idea that she wanted to change the Dunoon Primary School uniform colours, local mum and business owner Madeleine Smith couldn’t have guessed where that would end up.

As part of looking into the idea of changing the colours she was also given the the job of sourcing a more sustainable fabric for the school’s polo shirts.

‘By chance I had been researching the benefits of hemp products for another project and after searching for a potential supplier, randomly contacted Chris Martin founder of Hemp Clothing Australia – a company which makes all of its product line from hemp,’ said Madeline.

‘I enquired about the possibility of making hemp polo tops for Dunoon with the school’s logo applied. As it turned out Chris’ company had already been working on a hemp uniform range and it was almost ready for the market.’

Both Madeline and Chris were keen to make a difference in this space and they both understood that if they could move quickly it would be possible to deliver the first hemp uniforms in time for the January intake of the 2020 school year. But to be able to do this they needed help from other schools as Dunoon Primary, like many schools in the area, is a smaller sized school.

Everyone at Dunoon Primary Schoolis happy with their new hemp uniforms. Photo supplied.

Madeline worked with the principal of Dunoon Primary, Genevieve Slocombe, to contact other schools in the region and to invite them to join forces as together they could keep production costs down.

Madeleine contacted friends, P&C presidents and principals from Byron Bay to Blakebrook culminating in a meeting at Dunoon Public School of multiple schools that was facilitated by Ms Slocombe.

‘At these meetings Chris and Justine provided samples and discussed design and colour options. As a result local schools jumped at the opportunity to swap their petrochemical polyester shirts for sustainable hemp shirts at no extra cost,’ said Madeline.

‘Dunoon Public School didn’t end up changing the colour of their uniform but they did swap to hemp and have fully embraced the transition. Parents and kids alike are loving the soft fabric and the quality of the hemp product range.

‘It feels so good to be part of the solution heading into the future with focus more on sustainability and saying no to fossil fuels. It was a lucky, synchronistic phone call to Chris that has now changed the uniform landscape in our beautiful, environmentally conscious region.’  

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  1. I strongly favour hemp as an alternative to cotton and polyesters – it is just as durable and the hemp shirt I own is very comfortable. Hemp is reported as using half the water for the same yield as cotton, is highly pest resistant and as a fabric, “breathes” as well as cotton. On the face of it, why cotton growing is still permitted on the Upper Darling Basin is a mystery to me. Hats off to Madeleine Smith and the Mums & Dads who backed her – an outstanding community achievement!


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