Nothing curls your toes more than the sight of used sticky plasters. The tacky pieces of plastic sticks around forever, which is bad for the planet.
Now, a Tekapo man has developed a biodegradable plaster – made of merino.
“You can upgrade everything else in your adventure kit; you can get better food, you can get better clothing, but you can’t upgrade your first aid kit,” Woolaid founder and adventurer Lucas Smith said.
Mr Smith became fascinated with merino wool after working for a sheep station.
He said he got the idea to make the merino plasters while working as a guide on the Milford track, where he saw thousands of walkers suffering with blisters – and countless plastic plasters ending up on the trails.
“I ended up starting, basically, taking a bushman’s technique, which is where you get a strip of wool and you put it on your blister and it stops rubbing,” he explained.
“Merino wool’s been protecting skin for 10,000 years for sheep. If they have to live in this climate, then it has to work – otherwise, they die.”
The properties of merino wool make it ideal for medical use.
“It’s essentially the same type of material as the hair on our head and the outer layer of the skin, so it’s really compatible with the human body,” Agresearch scientist Stewart Collie explained.
While tonnes of synthetic plasters end up in landfills each year, merino is completely biodegradable.
For Mr Smith, the goal is to change the way Kiwis – and the world – thinks about the humble bandage.
“I think it’s just something people didn’t really question until you put it into an environment like this and a material that’s made out of the same stuff you make milk bottles from doesn’t really belong here.”