5 compelling reasons to buy Alpaca
Alpaca are the most sustainable of all the fleece providing animals. There are 4 million alpacas in the world, (compared to 450 million cashmere goats.) Alpacas have soft padded feet that does not destroy the soil or vegetation roots, meaning more grasslands stay available for grazing. They also only eat surface vegetation.
In contrast, cashmere goats have sharp hooves that damage the root systems, and they pull out each plant as they graze so the native Chinese and Mongolian lands are turning into desert. Alpacas also drink less water than other breeds. Fleece from one alpaca can make 4 sweaters, in comparison 4 cashmere goats provide enough fibre for just one sweater.
90% of alpacas are bred in South America where this ancient custom has supported indigenous farmers for 5000 years. The alpacas are free to graze across large areas. Luxury cashmere has now become mainstream with 170 million items of clothing produced in 2002 to rising to 650 million in 2016. In contrast the alpaca numbers have reduced as the next generation of herders are choosing a different way of life. The larger Peruvian alpaca companies invest and support the farming families with education, healthcare and excellent working environments.
3. Eco Friendly
Alongside the sustainability the processes in producing alpaca fibre are much kinder to the environment. As the fleece has no lanolin harsh chemicals are not needed to wash and clean the fleece. The alpaca has 22 official shades of natural colour, so the use of dyes is much less common than with other fibres. If colour is needed, then most companies use plant and vegetable based dyes. Due to the lack of lanolin the fibres do not attract dust mites so are hypo allergenic and suitable for asthma and allergy sufferers.
Alpacas are rounded up each year in the spring for shearing, which not only provides the amazing fibre but removes the thick fleece before the temperatures rise in the summer months. Without this annual shearing the alpacas would suffer heatstroke and often would die. The shearing process is done as gently and calmly as possible and immediately afterwards the alpacas are released back onto their grazing lands. Alpaca are never killed for their fur as they are far more valuable as a fleece provider each year. When an alpaca dies of natural causes they will provide meat and fur to further supplement the farmers income.
5. ‘The Super Fibre’
Alpaca fibre does not have the ‘prickle factor’ due to the smooth surface of the fibres. The mainly hollow fibres of an alpaca also make them ideal for temperature control.
They perform better than cotton in humid conditions and are warmer than wool in cooler seasons. Alpaca fibre has the softness of cashmere but much more durability due the the longer length of the fibres, this means more elasticity and no pilling. A high quality alpaca product will last for years and is a great investment.