Why Alpaca Sweaters Promote Sustainability and the Green Life

Why Alpaca Sweaters Promote Sustainability and the Green Life

March 15, 2018

Nothing beats the warm comfort of an alpaca sweater on those chilly evenings. While sheep’s wool is by far the more common fiber and the most frequently bought, alpaca is generally favored by those who value sustainability and green living. Most people who already know and love the material and shop alpaca sweaters do so because it is a strong, high quality fiber with a luxurious look and feel. But now you can satisfy your drive to reduce your carbon footprint while promoting sustainable growth every time you purchase alpaca apparel from a specialist retailer who sources products straight from the magical realms of Peru.

What is Alpaca Fleece?

Alpaca fleece is a natural fiber harvested from alpaca animals, typically from Peru. The fibers can be light or heavy in weight according to how the fibers are spun. To the touch alpaca has a soft feel, and is warmer than cashmere and sheep’s wool. Different types of alpaca offer various benefits; Huacaya grows a spongy soft fiber with a natural crimp thus making it naturally elastic ideal for knitting while Suri has zero crimp and is best suited for making woven apparel.  Today more designer brands use alpaca for their fashion lines. Armani uses alpaca to make suits for men and women, while other labels like Yves Saint Laurent and Gucci runways present alpaca in the form of sweaters, scarves, gloves and hats.

What Makes Alpaca a Sustainable Fiber?

One of the most sustainable fibers on our green earth is from the alpaca. Originally from the Peruvian Andes, alpaca has historically been known as the “fiber of the gods” by the ancient Inca people. In most cases when a mineral, animal of vegetable product is steeped in a history-based cultural identity, it is harvested in sustainable fashion, and when it comes to alpaca fibers this is indeed the case. Today the descendants of these ancient people make their livelihood by caring for the alpaca and harvesting their fibers. During the summer months the alpaca are shorn by hand in a safe and humane manner; the sheering does not harm the animals and they actually enjoy the process and often bound away in playful dance happy to grow a new coat.  Afterward, the fiber is sorted and sent to the big spinning factories in Arequipa to be graded, cleaned, dyed and spun into different kinds of yarn.

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How is Alpaca Fiber ECO Friendly and Green?

When Peruvian farmers (often family-owned farms) harvest alpaca the entire process from breeding to sheering is done naturally. The alpaca are bred and farmed according to their natural way of life. They live in their native environment in the highlands of Peru and Bolivia, grazing in open pastures and thus stimulating the health and growth of new grasses and plant life. Alpaca are hand-sheared in a painless humane manner and are never uncomfortable. No chemicals or machines are used to obtain their fibers, and no harmful chemicals are used to process the yarn. In addition alpaca fibers are naturally water repellent which means no artificial water repellent coatings are added to the fiber.

But human beings are part of the ecosystem, too, and alpaca is critical to the well-being of Andean highland people and their relationship to the earth.  The practice of traditional alpaca husbandry brings in critical cash that enables the inhabitants of remote rural areas to continue living on the land as they have for millennia, rather than moving to cities.  This promotes a healthy, cared-for ecosystem and preserves traditional customs and values.

When you shop alpaca sweaters, hoodies, hats and gloves you are sending the love back to Mother Earth while contributing to Peruvian prosperity and our natural environment as a whole.

 



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